Occupy Santa Cruz’ encampment lies uniquely on both city and county government. Until recently both governments responded with similar disdain that many cities have shown toward their citizens rallying against vast economic inequality. Now though a split has emerged between these two governments. The city filed an injunction against the campers on the city side. Lawyers representing Occupy Santa Cruz managed to move the venue to Federal Court. The city is now attempting to remand the case back to state court. The hearing is expected to take place in January. Meanwhile the county has managed to change course by 180 degrees. In my previous post I discussed how the County was moving to evict OCS. Now the county is settling into something akin to a live and let live policy, at least for now. OCS has been allowed to remain on country property as long as some rules are observed including keeping signs off county buildings. How long this will last no one knows but at least for now the county’s position is a welcome contrast to the city’s.
On Sunday I dropped off my second package of supplies to OCS’s extremely friendly supply officer. As we were walking across the encampment she told me of OCS effort to integrate more fully those who were homeless supporters of OCS and those who had a regular place to sleep. She talked about trying to remove the stigma that comes with the label homeless. Having been homeless myself I can speak to the complete idiocy of the stereotypes placed on the homeless. Being homeless is a great of work. Waking up every morning taking a minute or two to remember where you are and how long you can stay there is stressful. As is trying to figure out where you will go next once your current spot is no longer viable. OCS supply system has become extremely well developed. All regular residents have registered and listed exactly what they need. As supplies come in from Occupy Supply and elsewhere, they are distributed according to the list. Seeing OCS members line up eagerly to receive supplies was extremely gratifying.
I attended my first General Assembly. This is what democracy should work like. Herding cats has never been done so masterfully or with such respect. A wide variety of people where at the GA: newcomers, curious passersby, OCS members who have been there since day one, students, professionals, the young, and the elderly. Each department reported on its activities and concerns. GA attendees were encouraged to speak on concerns or offer suggestions. A few of the mentally ill, who may have possibly been unmedicated, brought things to a standstill by veering off on tangents. The facilitators treated them with respect while bringing things back on track. A member of Occupy Oakland was there giving some suggestions and tips that OCS could implement. A local choir sang at the end of the assembly for all those gathered. (more…)