Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom
HUFFis working to fight efforts by the merchants and City Council to further a police crackdown on youth, homeless and counter-culture folks downtown. In the last decade, City Council passed a variety of new laws, strengthening the anti-homeless "Downtown Ordinances". These changes gave police greater powers of selective enforcement downtown against poor and homeless people, political activists, street performers, and others.These laws include banning sitting down and peaceful spare changing on 95% of all business district sidewalks, creating an unconstitutional "move along every hour law" for political activists, performers, and poor people outlawing, hackeysacking, and "unattended property" (i.e. homeless backpacks) downtown. Additionally police have cracked own on those using erasable chalk for political messages and have criminalized street performing for donation with an open guitar case, or cap to receive money on 80% of the sidewalks downtown, and most everywhere else near a building. New laws in the last few years seriously escalate penalties for not "attending" to minor infraction tickets, especially abusive towards homeless people. Especially harsh restrictions on peaceful sparechanging include a complete ban on holding up a sign after dark, sitting with a friend while doing so, or having a dog with you.
The traditional weekly Drum Circle, a gathering spot for poor and counter cultural people in the community was driven away from the Wednesday Farmer's Market. New security guards patrol Pacific Avenue. New "no trespass" zones have been created around City Hall, the Public Library, the Riverfront and elsewhere to criminalize homeless sleepers and deter political protesters.
New homeless-hostile fencing has been put up downtown to eliminate traditional sitting areas. Change-making machines and sculptures have been installed to crate "no sitting", "no sparechanging", "no performing for donation", and "no political tabling" zones along most of the sidewalk.
A majority of the public benches have been removed and there is a one-hour time limit on how long you can sit on those remaining. City police have capriciously, maliciously. and/or selectively charged activists with "jaywalking", "chalking", and other harassment charges to punish them for high-profile protest activity downtown. Police also use Drug Prohibition laws involving felony prosecutions for sales of small amounts of marijuana, stay-away orders, the notorious PC 602.1(a) --interfering with a business, frivolous trespass ticket, and citations for singing or performing downtown. Permit Parking signs ban parking midnight to 6 AM in many areas without a permit--specifically designed to target homeless vehicles. On the West side, neighborhood vigilantes in collusion with police and ex-police bigots like (ex)- Lt. Joe Haebe have been frightening families with loud wake-up's and demands that they move on. Ignoring truck drivers sleeping (illegally) in their big rigs, these homeless harassment expeditions harass and demean the poor whose vehicles are their homes--in a town where affordable housing is a car for many.--
· HOMELESS UNITED FOR FRIENDSHIP AND FREEDOM ·