Friday, June 10, 2011

Homeless activist and lawyer
jailed for six months for Sleeping Protest

Two men arrested during a lengthy homeless protest last year on the steps of Santa Cruz County Superior Court and City Hall have been sentenced to six months in county jail.

Homeless activist and attorney Ed Frey, 69, and Gary Johnson, 47, were "remanded into custody" directly from the courtroom.

The case began July 4, 2010, in what activists called Peace Camp 2010. Initially, a group of more than 50 began sleeping and holding signs and more on the courthouse steps. It lasted roughly three months, before sheriff's deputies began warning, ticketing and arresting protestors under a criminal misdemeanor law for unlawful lodging and the protest died.

The judge offered a sentence of community service and probation plus an agreement they don't camp at the courthouse. But the two men declined. Johnson said he could not abide by the probation directive to "abide by all laws," asking "How can I take probation to obey all laws, when you've defined 'sleeping' as lodging to the jury, making it a misdemeanor crime? How can I not sleep for six months during probation?"

Because the law targets sleeping in public for those who don't have a home, Frey had challenged its essence on constitutional, human rights and other grounds.

Read the San Jose Mercury News report here. For a lot more detail, check out Becky Johnson's post at One Woman Talking here.


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