Several arrested during camping protest
Protesters demonstrating against Sacramento’s urban camping ordinance were back at City Hall on Sunday after being dispersed by police on Friday.
About six people were sleeping and chatting on the sidewalk Sunday, despite frosty morning temperatures. Organizers vowed to continue their occupation until city leaders are willing to repeal an ordinance that prohibits homeless people and others from urban camping.
“We’re homeless, not brainless,” said a woman who identified herself as Suzy Sunshine.
Sunshine said she moved from Los Angeles to Sacramento in July to seek safety from domestic violence. After spending all her money, she found herself on the street.
Nearly 50 police officers converged on the I Street government complex late Friday and into the morning Saturday to remove protesters, who had occupied the site since Dec. 8.
Sacramento police said four people were taken in for resisting arrest or illegal camping, and one on an outstanding warrant. Three others were cited for illegal camping and then released, and two others voluntarily agreed to go to a shelter.
Sunshine, who was not arrested, said she ran away when the officers showed up.
On Sunday, police were nowhere to be seen. Officer Justin Brown, a department spokesman, said patrol officers would continue to monitor the protest.
Officials will continue to enforce the camping ordinance, said city spokeswoman Linda Tucker. But enforcement activities would depend partly on the protesters’ actions.
“They have a perfect right to be out there as long as they are not violating the camping ordinance,” she said. “There’s a threshold that the protesters will need to cross.”
Several slogans were scribbled in chalk across the sidewalk, including one message that read “Everyone should be sleeping. No one is going to hurt you.”
The homeless issue has simmered in Sacramento for some time. The 3rd District Court of Appeal last February mostly dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the city’s camping ordinance. But the court did open the door to challenging the ordinance on the grounds that it has been enforced unfairly against the homeless. That would violate the equal protection provisions of the U.S. and California constitutions.
Activist A.J. Gunn said people are likely to return after a few days. “There will be a regrouping,” he said.