Humboldt County Sheriff's Department Refuses to Comply with California Public Records Request

BACKGROUND

KMUD news, May 12, 2008:   http://www.box.net/shared/iz6j5tdy3x  begin at 6 min, 21 sec

May 24, 2008:  Recent County Raids on Houseless People Spawns Forming of Community Group from North and South Humboldt

Recently, during record-hot weather in Southern Humboldt, the County Sheriff''s Department openly declared and began an aggressive attack , an "operation", criminalizing and displacing 'houseless' people who live outside in Redway and Garberville.   People sleeping on private land, with permission from the owner, were arrested for trespass.  People sleeping on public land, while no shelter exists in Southern Humboldt, were also arrested for trespass!  The Sheriff's stopped people profiled as "homeless" who were walking in town, and questioned them, intimidated them, told them they if they returned to their sleeping places, they would be arrested.   They also told these same people (in 100 degree weather) that they had 3 options: jail, the mental hospital, or leaving town.  And the deputies confiscated their survival, medical, and personal gear.

In Northern Humboldt, a slightly more urban setting, there are no legal places for a person to sleep without paying money.  Continuous harassment by police and city municipal codes attempt to prohibit particular people (wearing a backpack, looking houseless) from resting on public lands, from sitting in public places, and from having pets.  The only "shelters" that exist are unavailable to most houseless people, and recently, a well-organized camp in Redwood Park was raided.  Every night and day, people without shelter are criminalized for carrying out necessary life-sustaining conduct.  Regularly the police confiscate, destroy, or hold onto peoples' survival gear, their humble and only possessions.

There is not enough housing or services for every homeless person in Humboldt, yet officials take the meanest approach possible, forcing people out into town and ordering them to keep moving or go to jail!

We can expect more veterans of war and victims of the mortgage crisis to be a rapidly increasing part of the houseless population.

Last year (2007), local group PEOPLE PROJECT, through an organized encampment protest on "public" land,  exposed for many, the current conditions and policies inflicted against people without conventional shelter.  The City of Arcata and Arcata Police, in conjunction with the Sheriff'sDept., the District Attorney's Office, and 5 other police agencies, led an unnecessary raid on the encampment protest after a long night of heavy rain.  The encampment was providing otherwise safe rest for 55 people of all ages.

There is not enough low-income housing in any town of Humboldt County (or in any community). There is little to no shelter space, and no campground exists where people can safely sleep without harassment from police.  And the policies of cruelty, which attempt to disappear many people in our communities, perpetuate civilian violence against such vulnerable people who, without housing, must survive in full sight of the public.  Youth are taught, through shameful example, to treat houseless people inhumanely and speak to them without decency or respect.  Meanwhile, rampant prejudice spreads and excessive tax dollars are wasted on 'zero tolerance policing' as business people, parents, politicians, and police blame houseless folks for every local problem, from riverside garbage (i.e. dumped refrigerators) to teenage drug addiction!

Women in the community, from Northern and Southern Humboldt, have been documenting abuses against houseless people and speaking with various folks about the increasingly oppressive climate.  They have many years of experience and knowledge regarding local laws, county history, police activity, gentrification, and most importantly, the houseless 'experience' in Humboldt County.  Ongoing raids on public and private lands are displacing community members. 

The County has been criminalizing and displacing, not only houseless folks, but also poor people living on private rural properties ("code enforcement" victims) and Indian reservations, in addition to undocumented immigrants.  We acknowledges the intersections of these situations and the need to address all actions which target the most vulnerable people in our communities.

 

June 19, 2008

So, as you know, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department has been continuing an aggressive attack on people who live outside in the Redway Garberville area, which started during the hottest week (week of May 12) in years.

Recently, got hold of a document (if you could call it that) which the Chamber of Commerce and the cops put out in 2006 to businesses in that area, so they could tell people that they are being arresting, harrassed, "moved along", and having their possessions stolen (and/or thrown over a cliff- true story) etc  DUE TO COMPLAINTS BY BUSINESS AND LAND OWNERS!  The Sheriff's have arrested and moved people off of land which the people had permission to be on; the cops have made other RIDICULOUS documents that warn people to stay away from their sleeping area or be arrested for trespass on private property.  Some of that "private property" is actually Humboldt County (aka "public") property!  Sheriff's actually wrote HUMBOLDT COUNTY in the space for "private property owner" on at least one of their absurd documents.

 

Oct 27, 2010

Emerald Region Poor People's Campaign

STAND UP GET UP Once again, the rain is a sign for police action against the poor.
Wed, Oct 27, camps have been raided here in SoHum. Shamefully, Deputies and California Highway Patrol have set up checkpoints in Redway and street sweeps in Garberville as well. Those without I.D.s showing local addresses are warned to leave the area or face arrest.

Numbers of people were arrested and others issued tickets. Reportedly the police are promising 20 or more officers for Thursday, Oct. 28. Opposed to a police state for the poor who don't have the proper papers? Fed up with a County where the police and some hardline merchants and some hippy gentry make policy and NOT elected officials and their administrators?

This a Civil Rights issue. Poor people are the objects of an organized campaign where "homeless" is a shorthand to hate speech.

As we are told repeatedly, most Americans are two paychecks (or one mortgage or rental agreement) away from, this locally criminalized "homelessness". This an unabashed war on the poor, starting at the bottom.

The choice is obvious - to identify clearly with the Civil Rights of poor people and stand in support.

****

 

BELOW IS A 2008 PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST TO HUMBOLDT SHERIFF'S,  REGARDING ITS OFFICERS' ABHORRENT TREATMENT OF AND SCHEMES AGAINST HOMELESS AND TRAVELLING PEOPLE.  The request is still active, and you can check out every document so far by linking at the bottom of this page.

June 16, 2008

 

Sheriff Gary Philp
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department
Records Supervisor
Records Section/Division
604 C Street
Eureka, CA 95501

Via hand delivery and certified U.S. mail

 

Re: Request to inspect records pursuant to the California Public Records Act, Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 6250 et. seq.

 

Dear Sir/Madam:

 

Pursuant to California Public Records Act, Cal Gov’t Code §§ 6250 et. seq., the undersigned taxpayer citizen hereby requests to inspect and receive copies of the below-enumerated public records.

 

The undersigned requests that no documents material to this request be destroyed or deleted, but that they are instead preserved until inspection as requested herein has been completed and all disputes regarding the availability and production of documents have been finally resolved.

 

Cal Gov’t Code §§ 6253(c) provides, “Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from the receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefore.” The burden of demonstrating that any record is exempt from disclosure is upon the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.  Braun v. City of Taft (1984) Cal.App.3d 322, 201 Cal.Rptr. 654.

 

The undersigned insists upon a response from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department meeting the requirements of § 6256 within the statutorily prescribed time limit. Should you not timely respond, I shall deem my request denied and proceed with appropriate legal action to compel disclosure. Should such action become necessary, I shall seek costs and attorney’s fees against the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department. All responses and any other written correspondence pertaining to this request should be addressed to Kevin McGrath at the abovementioned address.

 

Should you contend that portions of any of the below-described documents are exempt from disclosure, I request that you expurgate only such portions as you establish are exempt and produce forthwith for inspection the remainder of the requested documents. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(a) (“Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be available for inspection by any person requesting the record after deletions of the portions that are exempted by law.”)

 

I request that in releasing documents responsive to this request you indicate to which particular request the documents pertain. To the extent you claim an objection to or privilege against releasing any requested document, specify the particular request to which the objection or privilege pertains.

 

I seek a waiver of fees in this matter. The requested information will not be used in any manner for profit, but solely to evaluate official policies affecting the public’s health, safety, civil, and human rights. However, I ask that this application for a fee waiver not delay processing this request. In the event that the application for a fee waiver is denied, please explain the basis therefore, and I shall either pursue an appeal or pay all reasonable search and copying fees.

 

In addition to providing the above-requested and statutorily required response, and release and copy of documents, please call ########## to arrange with Kevin McGrath a date and time at which below-described documents can be inspected.

 

In the event that you are not in possession of any of the documents material to this request, please disclose the name and contact information of persons, organizations, and/or agencies that are or may be in possession of such documents.

 

DEFINITIONS

As used herein-

 

(1)  the term “WRITING” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, email, text messages, radio logs, phone logs, meeting schedules, agendas and transcripts, memorandums, planners, and every other means of recording upon any form of communication or representation, including but not limited to notes, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, magnetic or punched cards, discs, memory cards, drums, servers, and other documents.

 

(2)  the term “DOCUMENT” means any writing containing information and requests relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department [HCSD].

 

(3)  “Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department” or “HCSD” refers to all agents, units, bureaus, divisions, teams, and any other organizations of and/or under the authority of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.

 

 

DOCUMENTS REQUESTED

 

1.   All documents setting forth guidelines, policies, practices, or standards the HCSD has adopted and/or follows regarding homeless and/or transient persons.

 

2.   All documents regarding and/or generated by HCSD’s “illegal camping” operation which, according to Brenda Godsey on KMUD’s May 12, 2008 news broadcast interview, began on May 12, 2008.

 

3.   All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to the present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and the Garberville Redway Chamber of Commerce regarding homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping or camping outside, and/or people sitting on public sidewalks.

 

4.   All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to the present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and any private property owners in the Garberville Redway area regarding homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and/or people sitting on public sidewalks.

 

5.   All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to the present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and any private property owners in the Garberville Redway area regarding people on private property against the property owner’s wishes.

 

6.   All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to the present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and any of the Supervisors of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors regarding homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and/or people sitting on public sidewalks.

 

7.   All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to the present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and the Garberville Redway area Chamber of Commerce regarding people on private property against the property owner’s wishes.

 

8.   All documents reflecting communications since May 12, 2006 between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and the Garberville Redway area Chamber of Commerce regarding people sleeping and/or camping outside.

 

9.   All documents reflecting communications since May 12, 2006 between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and the Garberville Redway area Chamber of Commerce regarding people sitting on public sidewalks.

 

10.  All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and agents of any California State and/or Humboldt County park service regarding people sleeping and/or camping outside.

 

11.  All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and agents of any California State or Humboldt County park service regarding homeless and/or transient people.

 

12.  All documents reflecting communications on or since May 12, 2006 to present between Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and agents of Humboldt County Health and Human Services regarding homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping or camping outside, and/or people sitting on public sidewalks.

 

 

SECTION 6253.1 REQUEST

The purpose of this request is threefold: 1) to permit public scrutiny of the HCSD customs, practices, and procedures material to contact with homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks; 2) to permit public scrutiny of the specific actions of HCSD in the Garberville Redway area in relation to homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks; and, 3) to evaluate the need for additional training, guidance, oversight, and monitoring regarding HCSD interactions with homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks to prevent the violation of said peoples’ rights (rights established by law, by the California and United States Constitutions, and by international treatises)

 

The undersigned requests, pursuant to Cal Gov’t Code §§ 6253.1, that the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department-

 

1. Assist the undersigned to identify records and information that are responsive to this request or to the purpose of the request, as stated.

 

2. Describe the information technology and physical location in which the records exist.

 

3. Provide suggestions for overcoming any practical basis for denying access to the records or information sought.

 

 

Sincerely,

Kevin McGrath