Free Speech in Jeopardy
A panhandling ordinance will be brought forward at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Previously we’ve had an ordinance forbidding aggressive panhandling. If passed this new version will make it illegal to panhandle within 30 feet from an ATM, bank doorway, transit center, bus stop, and other place restrictions. Even if the person solicited isn’t using an ATM or at the bus stop.
When you pace out 30 feet, that length could take you across a two lane road plus parking space, a pretty long distance away to be considered intimidating. Panhandlers shouldn’t approach someone using an ATM, but everyone should be able to say “Spare change?” or “Can we bring about change?” anywhere else to anyone else in a non-threatening manner.
Let our city council know you want them to protect our constitutional right to free speech. Come to the City Council meeting Tuesday, 11/14/17, 5pm, email and/or call your councilmember and the mayor.
Mayor Steinberg email@example.com (916) 808-5300
Dist 1 – Councilmember Angelique Ashby firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 808-7001
Dist 2 – Councilmember Allen Warren email@example.com (916) 808-7002
Dist 3 – Councilmember Jeff Harris firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 808-7003
Dist 4 – Councilmember Steve Hansen email@example.com (916) 808-7004
Dist 5 – Councilmember Jay Schenirer firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 808-7005
Dist 6 – Councilmember Eric Guerra email@example.com (916) 808-7006
Dist 7 – Councilmember Rick Jennings firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 808-7007
Dist 8 – Councilmember Larry Carr email@example.com (916) 808-7008
Camping Ordinance Trial Results
Ashmore et al vs City of Sacramento trial was challenging the city’s camping ordinance as being selectively enforced. The case began eight years ago stemming from multiple arrests and citations of a group of homeless people that formed a Safe Ground tent community. Attorney Mark Marin and his team that was challenging the City’s camping ordinance brought forward excellent witnesses including originally homeless and supporter plaintiffs, homelessness experts, a psychiatrist, and people that camped out at well-known events such as Camp Pollock and Fairytale Town camp outs, and Black Friday. Even the City brought forward a former police officer witness that testified homeless people are often harassed by law enforcement and have no other options. The city’s camping ordinance was upheld by a jury of twelve, with only three jurors voting that the ordinance was selectively enforced.
What comes next? SHOC and allies continue to fight to end this unjust law. Historically laws that sought to criminalize people in order to exclude them from public spaces or segregate them, such as Jim Crow laws, “Ugly Laws” which excluded people with disfiguring disabilities, “Anti-Okie” laws that excluded poor people from entering California, have all been overturned and we now cannot image these laws as acceptable. Overturning those laws took sometimes decades of hard work. Likewise our fight is far from over. The future includes legal battles, legislative enactments, public education, protests, marches, and reaching enough people who will finally understand that getting rid of homeless people happens only by ending homelessness.
Links to media about the trial:
Davis Vanguard Historic Homeless Trial Begins – Opposing Sides Tell Different Tales (Cres Vellucci) Sacramento News & Review Left in limbo – Homelessness on trial: – Separate and unequal – Motions sickness Sacramento Bee Jury sides with Sacramento – Does Sacramento unfairly apply its camping ordinance – I’ve watched people die outside – Homeless campers suing the city of Sacramento ABC Jury: City of Sacramento didn’t enforce anti-camping ordinance only on homeless – A timeline – Lawsuit against Sacramento – What are the details? KCRA Jury: Sacramento didn’t discriminate – Homeless advocates sue Fox Jury Rules in City’s Favor – Trial Over CBS Lawsuit Against Sacramento Capital Public Radio Jury Sides With City
SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS CHANGE TO THEIR ANTI-PANHANDLING ORDINANCE
Currently aggressive panhandling and soliciting for donations from a median or off-ramp of a freeway is against the law. Their proposed changes would make it against the law to panhandle within 30 feet of an ATM, financial institution door, transit center, bus stop, driveway to a business, or directly from someone sitting in an outdoor café.
SHOC (Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee) has been attending community meetings, City Council and Law & Legislation meetings trying to convince them that these new additions infringe on protected free speech, to no avail.
If you pace out 30 feet, it’ll take you across a two lane street including car parking. The ordinance would make it against the law to ask anyone within 30 feet from an ATM, even if that person is not planning to use the ATM machine. 30 feet equals 60 feet up and down the sidewalk with the starting point at the center. Can you imagine trying to intimidate a pedestrian from 30 feet away? Having to shout out “HELLO, OVER THERE! YES YOU! GIVE ME MONEY….PLEASE!!!” “What?” “I SAID….”
At the same time it does not make it against the law to ask a stranger what time it is, or comment how you like their shoes within 30 feet. You can still legally approach someone at the ATM machine and say, “Did you watch the game last night?” Just don’t say you are poor and in need of some spare change.
These changes have been approved by the Law & Leg Committee and will go soon to Sacramento City Council for a vote.
Angels of the Fields’ Scholarship Recipient
From Orchards to a Different Field
by Sally Ooms
In a trailer, tucked between a Sacramento River levee and Bartlett pear orchards, Gabriela Leon Cerriteno talks about her 19 years of life to date.
She will embark upon a college career in four days. She’ll drive at least 45 minutes from this spot, her family home, to Cosumnes Community College classes that start at 7:30 a.m. She will work toward her hoped-for degree in psychology. While she would never demean her parents’ professions as farm workers, like so many rural kids, she wants to take a different path.
Her last semester up river at Clarksburg’s Delta High School, she did a project for her English professor and met professionals in the field of psychology. They piqued her interest. “Psychology is so broad, I could use the degree for anything. But I am leaning toward clinical psychology,” she says.
Gabby received a scholarship through Angels of the Fields, a Delta-based volunteer group that helps farmworkers, their relatives and their children with a variety of basic needs—from finding adequate and safe shelter and nutritious food to providing transportation, especially to medical facilities. There are no health clinics in the Delta.
In addition, Angels of the Fields hosts several special events for farmworkers. Their biggest is a free Christmas party with carnival-style game booths, presents for all, a visit with Santa and lots of food. All gift toys and clothing are new items, and are sometimes the only things the kids will receive for the holidays.
Gabby knows the event well. “We always signed up to go there,” she remembers. “In my sophomore year, I started volunteering and worked the carnival. I volunteered for three years, at a booth or handing out snacks.”
Gabby first lived in Locke, an old Chinese community 7 miles down river from their Courtland location. But when the family of two adults and three children grew by one, the house there was too small and they moved. All the children have helped their father in turn with various aspects of trimming trees and harvesting fruit. “December is the season to trim trees, but when I was little my Dad didn’t trust me with the scissors, so I picked up sticks and branches and lined them up for the tractor,” Gabby says. “This last year, I got a job with a local food truck. I worked there from Monday through Saturday, 10 to 6 every day. I don’t like asking my parents for money. Except, they will be feeding me still,” she laughs.
Gabby’s father works for nearby Amistad Ranch where he does irrigation and pruning. She knows a lot of the workers at Amistad because they were so close. “In the summers, we would go for lunch break and hang out, or bring water. We were their little angels. And we helped them out in the winter season too.”
She sees her father now taking on what she calls “double work” because he has had to train to do a lot of new technology. He also is responsible for training others. “Pipes break down. He has to show them how to repair them.” Her mother started working outside the house about four years ago picking fruit. “She goes from place to place. You never know where she’ll be working—with my brother to pick pears, or grapes, kiwis. She picks cherries. We have green tomatoes and avocado trees here. That’s her job at home.
“Sometimes she switches to pear tree pruning. My brother and I would work with the two
of them and we brought my younger brother and sister, just to show them that it was not easy. I used to have longer hair. One day it got stuck in this huge spider web. (She swirls her hands around her head). I said, ‘I’m done.’ I told them: ‘I’ll clean the house. I’ll make it sparkle. I will do my homework, but no more pruning.’ Then, when they were leaving to prune, they would tell me, ‘You do well in school or we’ll take you.’”
Gabby was born a year after her mother came to the United States from Mexico. “I was unexpected. They were not prepared,” she lets on. “I am their experiment here.”
Gabby says she was not too outgoing in high school. She has friends but none of them really come from a farm life like she has. “I liked Latino Club. I was in that for three years. I really liked helping out, but we never went on any trips.”
In May, she went on her own to visit her parents’ hometown in the state of Michoacán for two weeks. “I saw relatives I’d never met. All the family. There are barely any here (in the U.S.). My cousins are very young and I was the only girl. Lots of boys.”
Now she hopes to travel far and wide. “I want to travel the world, make a difference, especially in small communities.” But first Gabby plans to finish her bachelors at the University of the Pacific, and then pursue her dream of a doctorate in psychology.
Angels of the Fields contact information: AOTF02@gmail.com
Farm to Every Fork Benefit Helps the Hungry, Urban Growers, Farm Workers
By Sally Ooms farmtoeveryfork.org
The fourth annual Farm to Every Fork benefit dinner is coming up, with money going to help those in our community who are facing food insecurity. The three beneficiaries this year are Oak Park Sol, Delta-based Angels of the Fields and the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Project (SHOC), which publishes Homeward Street Journal.
The dinner has a change of venue and will be at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, from 5-8 on Sept. 9. Go to farmtoeveryfork.org to donate, become a sponsor or buy tickets. The event includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer followed by a healthful, gourmet dinner. Other features are a silent auction with amazing offering, and a raffle with equally fantastic prizes. Sister Libby Fernandez, director of Mercy Pedalers and formerly head of Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, will be the guest speaker.
David Andre, an active member of Sacramento’s homeless community, told me about the edible garden SHOC has newly sponsored at the corner of 13th and C streets. Andre dubs himself “Main Waterer” at the garden, which is loaded with organic plants producing “tons” of cherry tomatoes and squash at the moment. He says the garden supplies lots of fresh produce for the Community Dinner Project at City Hall every Tuesday, to the people who tend the garden, and for neighbors who are volunteer cooks and create meals in their homes to share.
The 20×100 foot plot is owned by Cat Williams, a SHOC board member, who donated it to the cause. Andre says about five people are instrumental in growing, watering and weeding right now. “People come and go” but all learn the concept of team building and how important it is to grow organic food. “We use a more enlightened concept for weeding,” Andre says. With water conservation in mind, garden members leave many of the weeds and discourage them by adding mulch layers on top. Andre is a fan of using cardboard for mulch layers as well. He likes that they are recycling cardboard in the process.
The garden also offers a place for people who own houses in the area to wander around. “They enjoy it,” Andre says. “We are giving them land to walk on. They can spend a whole afternoon in the garden if they want to.”
Andre also has contributed fruit trees to the garden that he personally sees to. He is a Sacramento native and when he lost his house, he put his peach tree into the back of his truck and grew it there. “It was my statement,” he says. “I made friends that way too.”
Now he gives trees away, like fruiting mulberries taken from cuttings of ancient trees in Miller Park. It has been a pursuit since he was a baby. He created a ceramic piece he calls “Baby Head” and put it into the peach tree. “As the tree grows, I grow.” You might say he is like Johnny Appleseed, except he deals in already sprouted trees of many varieties. “It’s one of my callings.”
Andre’s next endeavor is to introduce small peppers into the garden. The pepper plants are direct descendants of plants his great great grandparents brought from Spain at the turn of the last century. “They have not been hybridized,” he says proudly. Thus they fit the concept of the SHOC garden—to keep things biologically pure.
Visitors to the garden are welcome. Come see what kind of joy a nice plot of urban land can bring, along with bellies full of great food.
Dear Friends of SHOC,
City of Sacramento officials have decided to move forward establishing a policy that Sacramento Police Department officers are not to confiscate the survival property of anyone living outside. This decision itself comes after years of advocacy from SHOC and others and tragically, two deaths on City Hall property in January. We are thankful the City wants to take steps forward. The root of these confiscations lies in Sacramento’s Anti-Camping Ordinance, as it is there where items such as sleeping bags, tarps, and bedrolls are defined as unlawful camping paraphernalia and their use or the use of a tent, defined as unlawful camping.
We know these items help our neighbors to survive the elements and that we’ve ever had these anti-homeless laws on the books is shameful. The city is building a policy through the City Manager’s office and using General Orders to the police to implement. This means they will not address the ordinance or the status it gives to these items as illegal. People will continue to receive citations ($230!), bench warrants and at times, arrest for the possession of these life saving items and existing in public space, even if their things are not taken.
Call City Manager Howard Chan today, 916-808-7488, and your district council member. Thank them for their intention, and remind them that continued criminalization is not the answer! Encourage them to make decisions that are rooted in the voice of people experiencing homelessness, who’ve been fighting for far too long for the right to survive, to exist, and have property. This policy shift will likely be on Tuesday’s City Council meeting agenda, so get those calls in!
For the Sacramento community, we know April 1st is the day that Winter Sanctuary ends, it’s also the day funding runs
out for the new warming centers at 11th St. and Wind Youth Services, which means it is the day that our neighbors are hitting the street again. Help us raise this awareness. This year’s event is being planned by SHOC and the Sacramento Youth Council, both groups comprised of homeless and formerly homeless leaders. We are excited to partner with young people as we push for a better future! We will have art, music, discussion panels and more! Please take the time to support our work!
In Solidarity, Niki Jones