Restrooms & Teri DuBose and her take-back-the-plaza group

Below are two letters covering some recent developments in several realms.  Anyone interested in organizing around restroom/homeless issues, please contact us.  What’s happening is inhumane and then some.

To the E-R, 7/11:

It seems that good is barely out of bed while evil has already made three trips around the world.

Your recent coverage of the possible Peet’s coffee shop closure leaves readers with the impression that “vagrants” are to blame.  I’m in Peet’s many times every week and I’ve talked with staff about “vagrant” impacts for years.  I’ve also observed, first hand, how much impact the poor/disabled/homeless have on the business. It’s minimal, but the apparently very well heeled landlord, who owns much of downtown Chico, is bound by some commercial code to demonize the homeless at every opportunity. Then we have an E-R editorial asking the city get some restrooms open.  Great idea, because the homeless are now

Then we have an E-R editorial asking the city get some restrooms open.  Great idea, because the homeless are now locked-out for ten hours each day.  But, why does the E-R care?  Is it because so many people, living brutal lives, are further punished, humiliated, degraded and criminalized by having no place to legally urinate and defecate?  No. Instead, it’s the inconvenience Bank of America or Morgan Stanley might experience when some poor soul takes a dump on their stoop.

Lastly, we have news that Michael Madieros and Ron Reed are opening a legal clinic for the homeless–with lawyers available three hours a week.  But, Madieros is a vocal proponent of criminalization, the very engine of legal entanglement and misery for the homeless. Something doesn’t add-up.

To the CN&R, 7/11:

I appreciate the CN&R’s coverage of civil rights issues affecting the homeless in the public space–specifically Chico City Plaza.  I have no doubt a battle is underway, as many in our city government and commercial sector seek to “take” the public space from “vagrants.” (Where they are supposed to go is never explained.

While I was quoted as saying I was “surprised” that Teri DuBose and her take-back-the-plaza group provided “bottled water and Otter Pops” to the homeless, it was never my impression that the take-back group intentionally provided anything to the homeless.  They don’t.  Affirming homeless people in the public space is clearly not their mission.

On the other hand, Chico Friends on the Street has delivered many tons of food, clothing, blankets, tarps and toiletries to the street, during the last year-and-a-half.  Our involvement has made us ever more aware of the profound lack of support for the visible poor.

In that regard, the homeless are now shut-out of public restrooms for ten hours of every day, while public urination and defecation are crimes. People need restroom access 24/7; this is a non-negotiable human right.  Anyone interested in engaging our city council on this issue, please contact: [email protected].

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CN&R LTE/Battle

Dear Editor,

I appreciate your coverage of civil rights issues affecting the homeless in the public space–specifically Chico City Plaza.  I have no doubt that a battle is underway and that many in our city government and commercial sector seek to “take” the public space from “vagrants.” (This is exactly the kind of direction recent visitor and nationally known homeless demonizer Robert Marbut would advise.)

At the July 5th Chico City Council meeting, I asked the council to immediately resign and rather than “stand down” from completing my public comment, I opted for removal by the Deputy Chief.

I advised the council to resign, as they are in breach of their oath of office, requiring adherence to the U.S Constitution.  Our council supports laws criminalizing the possession of necessities by the homeless (violating the 4th Amendment), laws criminalizing sleeping (violating the 8th Amendment) and–inflicting more “cruel and unusual punishment”–the council is now failing to provide restroom service, during eight hours of every day. This, while public urination and defecation remain misdemeanors and the homeless are subjected to ongoing arrest and jail time.

If you would like to help organize resistance to these policies, please contact: [email protected]

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Patrick Newman Addresses the Chico City Council, July 5, 2017

The following is an abbreviated version of a “public comment” I attempted to read at the Chico City Council Meeting on July 5.  Being “off topic” and refusing to sit down, I was escorted from the council chambers. The video of the event is recorded below. 

“Rather than proceed with further business, I hereby advise the Chico City Council to resign forthwith.  This council is in breach of the U.S. Constitution, which you are sworn to uphold.

Among the many ways you, the Chico City Council, have criminalized the life sustaining actions of the homeless, you have criminalized the possession of clothing, blankets, tarps, food and medicines with draconian “storage” laws. This is a breach of the Fourth Amendment, prohibiting unreasonable seizure. You have further criminalized sleeping, which the U.S Justice Department has called a breach of the Eighth Amendment, prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishment.”  And, in another breach of the Eighth Amendment, you have made the act of eliminating bodily waste a crime, while cruelly denying public restroom access. As you know, there are no 24 hour public restrooms in the City of Chico.

You have made public restroom access unavailable for eight hours of each day and you have made public urination and defecation a crime, for which a person may be arrested and held in Butte County Jail.  This is the very definition of “criminalization.”  A person must urinate and defecate in order to survive.  And, since they will inevitably need to urinate or defecate during the eight hours in which you have removed restrooms from service, they must engage in criminal activity in order to survive.

Also, you have, through gross incompetence, created a “sanitation emergency,” in which urine and feces will unavoidably be deposited in and around the public space. You are thereby endangering the health of the public you are sworn to protect, when remediation is clearly available.

Again, in view of the above cited incompetence and ongoing violations of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, I advise you to resign forthwith.”

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