"Arcata Eye" Weekly Trashes People's Project Encampment
- Skeptical stories from the Arcata Eye, a weekly that styles itself "mildly
objectionable". It makes no mention of Arcata's anti-homeless laws, shelter
deficit, or police abuses prior to the People's Project encampment.
Following these stories are some hostile editorials from the Arcata Eye. So
much for alternatrive print media.
The basic issue of the right to camp legally somewhere is ignored. The
participation of significant numbers of Humboldt State University and
community members is blacked out. Perhaps the Arcata Eye has its eye on its
local merchant(?) advertisers? One might think the Arcata Eye, whose
previous and subsequent issues ignore homeless concerns was simply
expressing its resentment that protest was forcing it to pay some backhanded
attention to issues it was leaving to politicians and bureaucrats.
HUFF (Santa Cruz) Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
People Project's camp migrates from park to park � May 1, 2007
Kevin L. Hoover Arcata Eye Editor
ARCATA � An encampment of homeless activists that cropped up at 11th and D
streets the day after the annual 4-20 celebration was uprooted from the site
by police four days later, then bounced from place to place through the week
and wound up at the 14th Street entrance to Redwood Park on Sunday.
Sponsored by a group calling itself the �People Project� (PP), the two dozen
or more campers called for fresh attention to the plight of the homeless,
objected to what it said are human rights violations by City authorities and
demanded creation of a self-governing campground.
Members of the group claimed widespread community support for their �dignity
village� on the south end of D Street Linear park, with visitors offering
encouragement and supplies. But Arcata Police said numerous neighbors had
called to complain about noise, litter, sanitation and public safety
With camping a violation of the Arcata Municipal Code (AMC) and the campers
refusing requests to depart voluntarily, the City moved in just after 6 a.m.
Wednesday morning with APD, police officers from other jurisdictions and
Public Works personnel to clear the park.
The result was a multi-hour confrontation that ended in 18 arrests. By
week�s end, the group had reestablished a moving camp on the front lawn of
City Hall, on private property at 11th and M streets and finally at 14th and
Monday afternoon, the D Street camp beside the freeway was deceptively
serene, with warm sun shining down on inhabitants as they lolled about
playing with Legos, discussing camp business and politics in a circle and
preparing food. An e-mailed policy statement (see page A7) had invited the
public to the site, but campers were suspicious of photographers. Several at
the site demanded identification, and said that permission was required for
An older man who gave the name "Raven" said he had been homeless 31 years,
and quoted lengthy Biblical passages in support of the encampment and the
protest's aims. "If you want to be a part of us, you have to take off your
clothes and join us," Raven declared. He continued to paraphrase scriptural
citations with increasing vehemence, following a new photographer around the
camp until restrained by a female participant who deemed Raven's approach
A young man named �Mango� said the group had considered various sites,
including the Plaza, before settling on D Street Linear Park. �It�s to
protest the camping ban,� he said. �We want to have discourse with people in
Conversation ended when protest co-organizer Kim Starr recognized a reporter
and called out, �Don�t talk to him! Don�t trust him!� Mango heeded the
admonition, and when a friend nearby began to speak, shut him down. �The
lady said not to talk to him,� he cautioned.
Starr, whose elaborate protocols governing expression virtually paralyzed
the Homeless Services Plan Task Force two years ago, appeared to be
reprising her role as first among equals at the protest. A large sign
detailed expected comportment and said that those who bring �violent
disharmony or repression� were �not welcome� in the public place.
Meanwhile, complaints from area residents were piling up at City Hall. Some
expressed concern for the safety of families, public urination, trespassing,
traffic obstructions, garbage, late night noise and harassment of public
Participants in a Campus Center for Appropriate Technology organic gardening
class, toiling in the Community Garden at 11th and F streets (see page 1),
were apparently mistaken for the languorous campers just across the freeway.
�That�s a good place to grow your pot, you fucking hippies!� yelled a
passing motorist. A female gardener offered a response of comparable
amplitude, disabusing the �dumbass� of his spurious charge of marijuana
City staff reportedly held wall-to-wall meetings Tuesday to develop some
strategy for dealing with the illegal occupation of a public place.
Sanitation was lacking at the camp. A Humboldt County Environmental Health
representative inspected the site on April 23 and noted the presence of
human feces and the odor of urine along the fence bordering the freeway.
The previous Saturday, April 21, a portable chemical toilet had been
delivered at the park without authorization or permit from the City. The
vendor revealed the portable toilet was ordered by someone who listed a
fictitious address on �Halibut Street� in Eureka. For insurance reasons,
the vendor was asked to remove the toilet, and did.
Water at the nearby D Street Neighborhood Center had been turned off, as
dignity villagers were utilizing it for camping purposes. Toddler playtime
classes there were cancelled, as campers were reportedly roaming into the
inside play area.
A camper who said her name was �Active Participant� decried the
cancellations as a symptom of class warfare. �What does that say about how
they feel about safety?� she asked.
Attendees invoked the oft-mentioned �right to sleep,� saying that the City�s
refusal to provide sleeping facilities consitutes a health hazard imposed on
the underclass and, ultimately, a human rights violation. No specific
proposals were offered, though one particpant said the group wanted a
�freespace� or �commons� where people could sleep.
Campers claimed that neighbors had offered support and encouragement for the
protest, bringing food and other supplies to the site. However, some nearby
residents weren't sympathetic. 14th Street resident Tom Clark, gardening in
his yard, said he had found a condom on the sidewalk.
"I don't want it to stay there," he said of the camp. "If I was trying to
sell a house on D Street, I'd be pretty pissed. I don't think it does
anything for the college trying to increase enrollment. For a family to find
that at the gate of the college isn't helpful."
Neighbor David Millman was sympathetic to the plight of the homeless and
understood the message of the protest, but wasn't comfortable with the
encampment across the street. He said relations with the campers had been
cordial, with some notifying him of their intentions and others asking for
use of his water and bathroom, which he declined.
"It's created a lot of conversation in our neighborhood, which is a good
thing," Millman said. "My bottom line is that if they want to exercise their
rights, they've done that. But I'm not interested in a permanent squatters'
camp in our neighborhood."
"I do have sympathy," Millman said. "But when I go to take my kids to a
baseball game and find a pool of vomit in front of my van and someone
sleeping in it, I become less sympathetic."
Warnings on Monday and Tuesday that the camp must be dismantled were
ignored. A big question among campers and neighbors was when the City would
make its move, and how.
Wednesday morning, it all came down. City Manager Michael Hackett had made
the call after consultations with Police Chief Randy Mendosa and District
Attorney Paul Gallegos. Mayor Harmony Groves and the rest of the City
Council seemed disengaged with the phenomenon.
Mayor Harmony Groves cast it as executive-level business. �I understand and
respect their need to bring the issue they care about to public attention,�
she said. But given the complaints, she said a �respectful, evenhanded and
balanced� solution was required.
That solution came as a no-nonsense City take-back of the park. Arcata and
Humboldt State University Police showed up shortly after 6 a.m. and asked
the campers to leave. According to a neighbor, someone yelled �Circle!� This
apparently triggered a contingency plan, under which 16 or so participants
committed to holding the turf coalesced in a circle and locked arms. With
that, a four-hour siege was on.
Police officers flooded the camp as City workers undertook dismantlement and
collection of camp equipment and possessions. The incident commander, APD
Captain Tom Chapman, said he had �begged, pleaded and cajoled� the circle
for cooperation in departing and assisting with property collection, but
received only silence in return.
�Every effort was made to persuade the protesters to clean up and peacefully
leave the area,� said an APD press release. Members of the Humboldt County
Sheriff�s Office and District Attorney�s Office assisted under a mutual aid
As the camp was gradually stripped, the core circle sat exposed on a gray
tarp. Officers then undertook extraction of individuals. The physical
confrontation energized a crowd across D Street, which erupted in catcalls
and slogans. �Shame on you! Shame on you!� was one of many chants.
As circle members were pried apart and carried or dragged off, the crowd
would flare and surge toward the campsite. At one point, a struggle erupted
and a man arrested.
Supplementary officers were called in from Eureka and Fortuna, and the
California Highway Patrol. When the EPD officers arrived, supporters
chanted, �We know what you did to Cheri! We know what you did to Chris!�
A total of 18 people were arrested and transported to the Humboldt County
� Fifteen people were arrested on charges of refusing to identify themselves
to sign citations for unauthorized use of public grounds.
�Two onlookers were arrested on a charge of obstructing a police officer.
� One juvenile female who initially left the encampment, returned to the
scene in an alleged attempt to obstruct the arrests that were taking place.
She was arrested on a resisting charge. It was later learned the girl was a
runaway out of Oregon; she was lodged into Juvenile Hall.
� Arrestee Hans Ashbaucher was transported to the hospital by ambulance
after an apparent seizure. He was later cleared and booked at the HCCF.
Mendosa said costs to the City easily topped $5,000, along with an
unquantifiable loss of routine work for APD and other City departments.
"Nothing got done at the police department the entire day," said Police
Chief Mendosa. "We had calls we didn't answer until the next day. How do you
put a price on that?"
Some APD officers on graveyard shift since the previous evening continued
duty through Wednesday morning and were on duty for 17 hours that day. One
officer had to come in from vacation. Costs for the outside police agencies
who assisted will be borne by their respective communities under a mutual
Ensuing days saw the reappearance of the camp � sans tents � on City Hall�s
front lawn. The City took a largely hands-off policy, with police
"monitoring" the new encampment. City Councilmembers were seen using the
rear entrance to the council office, passing an opportunity to interact with
the demonstrators around the corner on the lawn.
"This is class war," said a camper named Josh. "When you take away people's
dignity, you lose your own." He had particular contempt for the City Council
and what he said was its refusal to care for the homeless.
"They are living dead people that are running this town," he said.
Mendosa said he had no interest in rousting the crowd on City Hall's lawn.
"They have a right to be there if they have an issue with their government,"
He went out to chat with the campers, but left when tempers flared. "With
the exception of a couple of people with hostile attitudes, most of the
protesters were polite and even apologetic for the hot heads," Mendosa said.
He said that some of the activists were less than cooperative in getting
their property back. "Earlier in the day the APD office staff had problems
with a few protesters while they were returning backpacks," Mendosa said.
"They were disruptive after learning our part-time staff was unable to look
through the mountain of stuff today to get specific items. We worked out
part-time staff as long as we could and had to tell the people our staff
would continue working through the stuff on Monday during business hours."
11th and M
On Saturday, the camp migrated to 11th and M streets, a site owned by the
Arcata Volunteer Fire Department.
Assistant Fire Chief Desmond Cowan appeared at the location in an AVFD
truck, and was met by an APD sergeant. Cowan notified members of the group
that they were trespassing on private property and had to leave immediately.
This briefly jammed the PP's circuitry, with one young man challenging Cowan
to prove that he was with the fire department. Starr said she would have to
consult with the group to ascertain its will, but other participants took
Cowan's notice seriously, and began to pack up.
14th and Union
The group next moved to the corner of 14th and Union streets, the entrance
to Redwood Park, erecting a massive tent out of multiple tarpaulins in the
center of the lawn. large letters in duct tape on the side say, "JOIN US."
PP�s occupation of lower Redwood Park � dubbed �liberated space� by PP �
continued through Tuesday and set up conditions similar to those that
precipitated last Wednesday�s confrontation.
People Project breaks camp, blasts City Council � May 8, 2007
Kevin L. Hoover Arcata Eye Editor
K STREET � The �dignity village� that occupied four sites in Arcata over a
10-day period was dismantled last Wednesday, as participants in the �People
Project� (PP) took their issues to that night�s City Council meeting.
The group established an encampment of 12 to 15 tents with something over 30
people on April 21, from which it was removed four days later in a four-hour
operation involving Arcata Police and several other law enforcement
The group then moved to City Hall�s front lawn for a few days, alighted at
11th and M streets for an afternoon and then re-erected their illegal camp
complex Sunday, April 29 at 14th and Union streets at the foot of Redwood
Park along Campbell Creek. A massive �tarpatorium� mega-tent dominated the
space, and campers posted numerous signs in the area, one of which
re-designated the public park as �liberated space.�
Complaints from neighbors soon began to roll in to Arcata Police, including
reports of fights, loose dogs, littering, loitering, public urination and
defecation and other problems. One neighbor said some People Project
participants spent much of their time during the four-day habitation of
Redwood Park in their colorful van, which was parked nearby with the side
door open, playing with Game Boy units.
Though the Redwood Park camp essentially replicated the illegal situation
several blocks to the west days earlier, the City did not attempt to remove
One reason may have been the unexpected expense the April 25 extraction
incurred the City.
According to Police Chief Randy Mendosa, who also served as acting city
manager last week, costs for Arcata Police and parks was around $8,000.
About $1,500 of that was applied to staff time having to deal with campers,
processing and returning their property which had been removed during the D
Street camp cleanup.
Costs to outside agencies who assisted in the extraction topped $4,000.
Wednesday afternoon, campers broke down tents, drew signs and prepared for a
march, loading camping equipment into a line of trucks and vans parked along
A PP activist with a bullhorn offered a multi-point denunciation of the City
of Arcata. She said police had used excessive force during the April 25 camp
takedown, that the City had reneged on a promise to return stored property,
that the homeless are criminalized and forced to commit �crimes of
necessity� by City policies and practices. �We don�t want anything from the
City,� the speaker said. �The People Project�s overall goal is to have a
sustainable, eco-friendly, people-run autonomous campground that�s nothing
to do with the City... We do not want anything to do with the City!�
This was too much for event co-organizer Kim �Verbena� Starr, who prompted
the speaker with a correction. �But we want them to stop chasing us!� Starr
said. �We just want to sleep!� erupted PP participants, back on message.
After a while, the group proceeded to march through town, including a few
loops around the Plaza, and arrived at City Hall for the night�s council
Arcata residents weighed in on both sides of the issue, but most speakers
supported the People Project action. Some thanked the police and the
council for dealing with the campground, complaining of human feces, barking
dogs and general lawlessness. �The People Project have brought a lawless
element to Arcata,� one resident said.
Others characterized the police response as an attack, and voiced concern
for human rights. Several speakers urged selective non-enforcement of the
Arcata Municipal Code, particularly laws prohibiting camping.
Some said sleep deprivation amounts to torture and is a human rights
violation. Others characterized the police action as a militaristic
�assault� on the homeless.
Loud applause met those who spoke in favor of PP, with jeers for citizens
who questioned PP actions. Several speakers condemned the council as
appearing disinterested and insensitive.
By one count, some 67 speakers spoke on the PP issue over hours of public
Councilmember Paul Pitino made a motion to assemble a Town Hall meeting on
the subject, which was not seconded. Mayor Harmony Groves thanked the group
for sharing their thoughts.
After listening to the barrage of speakers, Pitino said, �I know it looks
like we�re not paying attention, but all of us are doing what we can with
who we are.�
At a Thursday press conference at D Street Linear Park, Starr said more PP
actions were on the horizon. She said she�s speaking with attorneys about
the recent events.
Terrence McNally: Jerks unite in co-dependency across Arcata�s streets and
lunch counters � May 8, 2007
Countless times there have been conversations in this town questioning the
work ethic, the worth of Arcata�s homeless. Generally, it�s something along
the lines of, �they wouldn�t work a lick of work if you handed them a job.�
It happens over lunch at V&N Burger Bar, Tony�s... and Los Bagels and
Daybreak Caf�. It generally sounds bigoted, judgmental and expresses the
worst possible sentiments about people the speaker�s never spoken with.
Last week at Arcata City Council meeting and the People Project press
conferences, Arcatans heard some reasonable statements from camp proponents.
Some just want to be able to pitch a tent and not be ticketed or arrested by
this City�s police department. Beyond the logistical problems of making that
happen... well, fair enough. If not feasible, at least that�s an
Then there were those who were willing to stand up in front of this
community and state � before cameras, notepads and tape machines � that they
wouldn�t contribute to this town, whether through work, taxes or apparently
volunteerism in any recognizable capacity. It�s a war-mongering, sexist,
hateful society and they�re bowing out.
They would not work if handed a job.
After hours of public comment the night before, the People�s Project called
the Thursday press to complain some more. They made no attempt to correct
misstatements they�d posted the previous week. In the homeless PR wars, the
Project is willing to play dirty. Hans Aushbacher was not tased by Arcata
Police during his arrest, as stated in initial PP press releases and
repeated in the days to follow. He said he wasn�t. PP knew it. They left it
out there hanging.
Nobody was presenting evidence of the testicle abuse they reportedly
experienced from officers during arrest. A lot of cameras were firing that
day. Nobody had a crotch-grab picture.
Instead, the People�s Project repeatedly stated that they don�t want
anything from the City while demanding that Arcata not enforce laws they
don�t like. They do want specialized, selective treatment of laws that the
rest of us are held to.
Obviously, not all of this was well-thought out. Pointing out PP
contradictions doesn�t take a lot of effort. And on Thursday, they didn�t
have much more to say. The conference they called started late and meandered
without direction like the Wednesday march through the streets.
Tom Joad (no relation to Steinbeck�s hero, really) read a written statement.
Most speakers probably didn�t take time to work through their thoughts
�The reason folks took this space was because it�s ours to take,� one woman
said about the 11th & D public park.
�Homeowners are protective of Arcata and how wonderful it is, but it�s
wonderful because of rape and genocide,� we were informed. S�wha?
�We shouldn�t have to slave away for eight hours a day. It kills people. We
started out as nomads,� said another young woman. Not working is, �a choice.
I�m choosing to live differently. It�s a conscious choice.�
Katherine LeBlanc confirmed what lots of people have assumed when assuming
There probably haven�t been many nomadic societies where members opt to drop
out of the hunting and gathering duties for a few years while the rest of
the tribe works to support them. Who knows? Maybe a couple of the more
charismatic ones achieve shaman status and are freed to imbibe psychotropic
chemicals all day and rail against the genocidal tendencies of the rest of
the tribe. They�d have visions, for sure, but they�d better be pretty damn
insightful ones. No deep truths were delivered last week.
Plenty of housed, taxpaying, contributing Arcatans have sounded moronic,
hateful and self-absorbed at public meetings. It happens. People suck. But
its rare to hear speakers declare their right to go on sucking � off
everyone else � with as much vigor, vehemence and vileness. That�s a new
one. Even in Arcata.
After the face of homelessness presented by the People�s Project, lots of
lunchtime anecdotal hate talk was vindicated � never mind the elderly,
single-mothers and kids whose welfare still hangs in the balance.
PP is laying low for a spell. Squiggy Rubio wasn�t quite sure, or telling,
when the next demonstration will take place. The Wednesday march through
City streets was about half the size of the April 25 demonstration. The
firestorm of houseless and housed activism PP may have imagined didn�t
But Kim �Verbena� Starr let it be known that she�s meeting with attorneys
and that lawsuits, against the City of Arcata, against citizens, against us,
could be on the horizon.
Last week, at City parks and lunch tables, the jerks won one.
Terrence McNally is the Eye�s business editor and so much more.
Arcata Eye Editorial: The People Project's gangster chic � May 8, 2007
It is best in cases like this to pretend that you are stupid.
� Frank Zappa, �Heavenly Bank Account�
Addressing the innumerable contradictions and falsehoods embroidered
throughout the People Project�s (PP) rhetoric would be a full-time job and a
fool�s errand. As you�ve doubtless noticed, PP�s incoherent and selfish
doctrine shrivels on exposure to reality.
Here you have one set of grown adults (some of whom have SUVs parked down
the street from their demonstrations, plus dogs, dope, cigarettes and other
of life�s amenities) telling another set (the working people of Arcata)
that they have to support them. Lots of us are already working two jobs just
to support our own families and chosen charities, and we�re having a hard
time. Now we have to adopt a bunch of surly strangers who like to sit around
and tell us what jerks we are? Good luck with that.
Arcata to PP: Even assuming you�re sincere (as you now go into talks with
attorneys to try and cash in on your carefully engineered confrontation),
before you make any progress in getting a campground, you�re going to have
to address the central riddle you present to thoughtful Arcatans: How can
you muster unlimited resources and energy to party and protest, but refuse
to do the real work that would actually accomplish something?
Not only does PP propose no plan of any kind for creating their campground,
it wants the rest of us to figure out all the details. Oh, and pay for it.
Last year�s goofy slogan was, �We all have a belly button.� Now it�s the
�right to sleep,� as if anyone is against sleeping. That rhetorical riff
might be sufficient for the drum circle �twixt drags on the utensil, but the
rest of us aren�t willing to play stupid and pretend that�s all there is to
Since it doesn�t fit in a slogan or chant, the PP never talks about campsite
problems that City environmental workers are all too familiar with:
mini-mountains of garbage, toilet paper-topped heaps of feces, trees ripped
apart for firewood, erosive trenches dug for drainage around camps, foliage
trampled for trails to the campsites and so on and on, all left for someone
else to deal with. Speakers at last week�s council meeting actually bragged
about building homes in the woods. The �right to sleep� is not the right to
trash nature, but in Arcata�s forests, they go hand in hand. Just go up some
of the side trails and take a look, but watch out for the uncontrolled dogs.
Ostensibly, �respectful dialogue� is desired. That must be why anyone who
disagrees � or even asks that activists simply speak clearly so they can be
understood � is variously insulted, booed or snapped at and told not to
It�s a sorry testament to our educational system that a few (some in the
�peace� movement) who should know better surrender their minds to the
demagoguery of the PP. They decry violence, then proceed to commit it with
lies, distortions and insinuations against the rest of us, all to wild
applause by the mob. Associating with the abusive PP cabal rather than
actually doing something only consigns one to the non-credible category.
Civics for dummies: The people elect leaders who enact laws, which the
police enforce. Don�t like the law? Change it. And with all this newfound
enthusiasm for housing issues, we look forward to the activists�
constructive participation in Planning Commission meetings which bear on
While you�re fully entitled to be outraged at the PP�s effrontery and
destruction, it�s a mistake to let their malign machinations seduce you to
the dark side. Don�t be a hater � first, it�s wrong, second, that�s what
they want � to divide and conquer. Basically, though, hate is dumb,
unrealistic and out of character for Arcata, which is smart and realistic.
PP has succeeded in sowing division among Arcatans, some of whom fault the
City and cops for not being more heavy-handed. But again, by way of realism,
look at the full picture: the PP�s core zealots tried to engineer the
groundwork for a lawsuit and financial payout. The City�s response was
entirely appropriate. If it seemed tardy, remember that the festivities
erupted on a Saturday, which was no accident.
What if a motorcycle gang had taken over a public park for a multi-day
kegger? How long might that have been tolerated? A different gang, PP,
managed to spoof Arcata�s radar by throwing up a bunch of chaff in the form
of word-salad rad-chic slogans about homelessness, a genuine issue which
Hopefully we�ve learned our lesson and will deal more promptly but with the
same firm-but-gentle response with those who shred the social contract and
the laws the people have enacted to protect our town.
The PP is not a monolith. Yes, its Stalinesque leadership includes hardcore,
professional protesters who attempt rigid control over message and even over
who in the group may speak, when and to whom. Trying to make sense of the
PP�s bizarre rants and acts has led more than one observer to wonder whether
some aren�t government provocateurs trying discredit a worthy movement. But
PP adherents are a motley mix: impassioned young idealists having their
first brush with activism (you�ve been there, remember?); older, apolitical
homeless folks who simply find aid and comfort in the group; those with
problems that no city can solve; a couple of predatory types; and some
general hangers-on and goodtimers. They�re individuals who have succumbed to
Let�s recall recent history. Without naming names (though they�ve all been
in the newspaper over the past 10-plus years), remember that Arcata is a
tempting target for fraudsters. From time to time, we are visited by
charlatans who take control of a community institution, maybe a business and
in this case our parks, then propound high-flown ideals while actually
prosecuting a self-serving agenda. Invariably, our strong, resilient
community sluffs off these invasive exploiters. It might take time, there
may be scar tissue, but Arcata always withstands fear and falsity.
The latest batch of exploiters crapped (literally) on Arcata, offering
nothing but abuse while trying to take take take all they could. It didn�t
work and never will. In its erratic, erroneous adventure in exploitation of
a caring community, the People Project has revealed itself as little more
than a gang that has learned to spout chic, vacuous slogans.
Arcata�s greatness, its compassion and tolerance, soldiers on, undimmed.
Press releases from the People Project, unedited � May 1, 2007
Monday, April 23
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Squiggy Rubio or Verbena, (707) 407-5017
Growing Encampment Protesting Human Rights Violations Against Houseless
PEOPLE PROJECT Proposes Free, People-Run, Eco-Sustainable Campground
Thirty-five houseless people and supportive community members began a
demonstration on city property, the lawn of the �neighborhood center� on D
Street in Arcata Saturday afternoon. Later that evening, the demonstrators
set up tents to form an encampment where people have been dialoguing,
skill-sharing and sharing food during the day and sleeping at night. By
Monday many more people are participating in, visiting and supporting the
encampment. Early Monday a banner was posted over highway 101: �It�s a Crime
to Sleep Outside. Is that alright with you?�
The encampment protest has been organized by People Project to reveal the
crisis of persistent cruelty and human rights violations that houseless
people face every day and every night in this community. The goal of the
encampment protest is to ultimately generate community support for a free,
people-run and eco-sustainable campground.
Some of the signs displayed by protesters read: �Sleep Deprivation is
Torture;� �Where Would Jesus Sleep?;� and �Dignity and Respect for All.�
Houseless activist Charlie said �we are reclaiming this public space to
inspire dialogue with others in the community about the need for a
people-run, free, ecologically, sustainable campground.� �It is already
meeting a concrete need for many by providing shelter, safety and food� he
Over 200 people in the Arcata area, children, veterans, grandparents,
elderly, activists, teens, babies are without available shelter or even a
safe outside place to exist free of harassment.
One young man attested, �I got woke up by APD the other day. They arrested
me and I was beat up for no reason. The next morning both my arms hurt like
hell, and I have marks on my wrists from hand cuffs, and I had a bump on my
head, and my nose was all broken.� Even when houseless people do not get
beat up, they are rousted from sleep often between 2am and dusk and forced
to hide someplace else or stay awake.
These types of reports are common at People Project meetings where houseless
and concerned people meet Tuesday nights. At meetings people eat, share
stories, organize around human rights, support each other and create
People Project wants to be clear that the encampment action is not asking
for money or �help� from government. �We have found that to be useless� said
longtime People Project participant, reflecting on a history of local
protest and articulated needs by houseless people and advocates in local
government forums. Rather, with this action People Project seeks to connect
with caring community members and strengthen the houseless community�s
vision of a campground.
As the first protest signs went up on rainy Saturday, �Ranger Bob� Murphy of
the Arcata Police Department arrived. Murphy is notorious for ambushing
people sleeping in the forest and harassing houseless people and people that
he profiles �transient� and homeless. He promptly ordered B & B Portable
Toilets to remove the port-a-potty for which demonstrators had paid earlier
that day. Not only is it criminal to sleep anywhere in Arcata, but in
addition, there are NO public restrooms.
An interaction at the encampment with Arcata City council member Paul
Pitino, involved discussion about the illegality of the city�s policies that
target houseless people and fly in the face of the 9th Circuit Court�s
�Jones� decision in 2006.
For a community that considers itself progressive, it seems unthinkable that
there would be such an increasing number of poor and houseless people
falling victim to constant harassment and violations.
People Project believes that if the real day and night truth is known by
caring people in Arcata and surrounding areas, and if prejudices can be
broken down through the encampment, compassion, cooperation, and dignity
will flourish in the area.
Encampment participants invite the public to stop by anytime, day or night,
and support the camp and a future free, people-run, eco-sustainable
Thursday, April 26
ARCATA � The Arcata People Project Encampment that was raided by local
police on Wednesday, April 25 at the corner of 11th and D Streets is up and
running again on the front lawn of Arcata City Hall. Members of the
encampment met Wednesday evening at the corner of 11th and D Streets and
marched through the streets of Arcata to City Hall while chanting,
�Whose streets? Our Streets!� and �The People United Will Never Be
Defeated!� The encampment spent its first night on the lawn of City Hall on
Wednesday night and, as of Thursday morning, about 50 people were at the
City Hall lawn developing the camp.
The Arcata People Project supports an eco-sustainable campground for use by
houseless people in the area.
The encampments at 11th and D Streets, and at City Hall hope to raise
awareness and urge the City of Arcata to take action. The City of Arcata
must address the issue of homelessness in a serious and productive way that
allows for human rights and dignity to be maintained.
Eye Editorial: The Pointless Project � May 1, 2007
Every town must have a place where phony hippies meet
Psychedelic dungeons popping up on every street
� Frank Zappa, �Who Needs the Peace Corps?�
It�s a mistake to call the People Project�s latest fascistic,
community-trashing initiative a �hippie camp.� For one, it isn�t fair to
The Flower Children, unlike this bunch, at least had a sense of style, a
daffy idealism and some all-redeeming artistic productivity. We got some
decent music out of that bunch, much of which is now being used to sell
insurance, cars, athletic shoes and other fine products.
In contrast, the Orwellian-monikered �People Project� (PP) that squatted up
public parks last week manufactures only self-righteousness and surly
attitude, but mostly, a sense of entitlement large enough to blot out the
sun. (After inviting the public to their �Dignity Village,� participants
waxed indignant at curious questions, and said their consent was required
for photography in D Street Linear Park. Friday afternoon, a news
photographer who had been chatting amicably with a protester was interrupted
and directed by one of the higher-ups in the People Project to leave City
Hall's front lawn so that she could feel "comfortable.")
First, they aren�t serious. PP has made no formal proposal for the
campground they�re supposedly demanding. No location, funding or management
plan has been proposed. They offer nothing to work with other than slogans
The People Project�s half-assed lies are as dense as their proposals are
vapid. In PP land, the police are all thugs, the City Council oppressors and
the news media complicit. It has to be that way for them, because then
they�re positioned as the valiant freedom-fighters.
Every institution is drafted as a character in their morality play, with
virtually all non-cast members playing villains. Not since the Bush
Administration has an outfit been so eager to pretzelize reality to justify
One arrestee in the Wednesday incident was immediately reported by an
�indymedia� rad-website as having been tased by police. Ah, more memes.
That�ll help. By the time the folklore machine is done with this story, the
police will have been clubbing the group like baby seals. We've since read
accounts by PP supporters that the police were "violent." Since there were
dozens of cameras of every description at the site, we eagerly await hard
evidence of any brutality. What we really see here is desperate post-event
distortion to make it fit PP's rigid ideology.
In fact, the APD-directed multi-agency police effort showed monumental
reserve in peacefully managing a volatile situation involving a mass of very
excited people. The PP folks tried as best they could to ratchet up
tensions, and flirted with inciting a violent brawl or even a riot. It�s
unconscionable that public employees were exposed to potential injury for
such a frivolous purpose.
The conclusion independently reached by many observers was that the
�activists� wanted a confrontation, lawsuit and fatty settlement. Last time
the City cleaned up a trashed campground � �Camp Aerial� at the Marsh, one
camper sent the City a bill for $4,960. (It wasn�t paid.)
One of the asinine devices the PP uses to prop up their premise is a
penchant for non sequiturs which may just be a refusal to process linear
thought. Ask for a solid, specific proposal for the perma-camp they
ostensibly want, and you might get a lecture on Bush, global warming,
journalistic practices or, often as not, a repurposed Biblical parable of
PP well knows it can work rich veins of compassion and guilt in Arcata, a
place where extreme behavior is indulged as in few other places and the
police won�t blow your head off for it. But note the utter lack of
participation in PP by genuine housing activists, progressive political
leaders or anyone else with any record of accomplishment.
Arcata is the most dynamically democratic town imaginable. Citizen
committees guide all manner of political, economic and environmental issues
(with more to come, such as a Youth Commission and possible Public Safety
Committee), and get results. But that�s too quaint for PP dogma.
PP doesn�t bother with the tools the citizens have established for actually
accomplishing things. Nor does it respect the laws our town�s people have
approved, such as those regulating camping and dogs.
Those who are serious about improving matters put in the hours at City Hall
meetings to get community projects done � not lolling around on its front
Taking over public spaces and saying who can and can�t be there based on
looks and profession - that�s peaceful? Respectful? Welcome to dingbat
Serious people are working on the homelessness problem (see page 1), rather
than flipping off cops, rolling cigarettes and likening themselves to Jesus.
The City has invested huge financial and personnel resources in addressing
homelessness, and efforts continue at many levels. This is a tough one,
folks. For PP, it�s a good reason for a party.
Were our elected leaders to ever dismantle Arcata�s striving efforts to
provide housing and shelter, not only would the state go after the City, but
the voters would throw the City Council out on its ear, probably in a
special election. Is there a more liberal, open town in Humboldt County? The
USA? PP jams their bogus construct onto Arcata and it looks like Pete in a
Darth Vader suit.
Sadly, PP�s malignant activities besmirch Arcata�s image. To those skeptical
of our free-thinking town, the hysterical PP, as seen on TV, is all of us.
Arcata is the place weirdos go. Well, we do gain a lot from that phenomenon,
so maybe we just have to suffer the exploiters along with the more
productive eccentrics and iconoclasts.
Take heart, Arcata. That�s what will carry us through the predations of the
odious People Project and its pointless violence on our collective psyche.
Every day, we strange, wonderful, Arcatans � the ones who can � go out,
serve their fellow citizens, create wealth and contribute energy to our
wonderful local institutions. They teach school, build furniture, make art,
fill cavities, bake bread, run cash registers, care for those in need, cut
lawns, answer phones and make community.
Sometimes we have to step around grifters who spout political dogma and
divisive demagogy. So? Living that way in Arcata is still better than not
having to do so just about anywhere else.
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