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"Arcata Eye" Weekly Trashes People's Project Encampment

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  • Robert Norse
    Skeptical stories from the Arcata Eye, a weekly that styles itself mildly objectionable . It makes no mention of Arcata s anti-homeless laws, shelter
    Message 1 of 1 , May 17, 2007
      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.

      --Robert Norse
      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
      concerns.

      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
      Union streets.
      In camp

      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
      picture-taking.

      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
      "inappropriate."

      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
      the community."

      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
      employees.

      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
      cultivation.

      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.


      Showdown

      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
      agreement.

      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
      Correctional Facility:
      � 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
      aid agreement.


      Thursday-Friday

      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 said.

      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
      agencies.

      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
      it.

      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.


      March

      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
      Union Street.

      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
      meeting.


      Council condemnation

      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
      comment.

      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
      understandable desire.

      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
      beforehand.

      �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
      the worst.

      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
      ignite.

      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
      it.

      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
      interrupt.

      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
      that subject.

      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
      concerns everyone.

      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
      mob behavior.

      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
      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
      continued.

      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
      autonomous solutions.

      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
      campground.


      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
      hippies.

      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
      and admonitions.

      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
      conflict.

      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
      dubious applicability.

      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
      lawn.

      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
      dystopia.

      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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