Put a moratorium on enforcement of Sacramento’s anti-camping ordinance

I worried this past Monday night inside City Hall would be another explosive meeting between electeds and Right to Rest homeless activists. It wasn’t. In fact, it was productive.

The council members on the city’s special homelessness subcommittee, led by Jay Schenirer, invited stakeholders to speak. They knew many would chastise them. And people did. Sister Libby Fernandez of Loaves & Fishes demanded that the city repeal its “anti-camping ordinance.” Not every day a nun reprimands you for bogus policy. But props to Schenirer and the two other council members, Jeff Harris and Steve Hansen, for taking it and listening. (Read my story on this on page 8.)

The behavior inside council chambers on Monday was a welcome change from what’s happened in recent weeks out front of City Hall. I’ve seen protesters insult cops’ mothers. I’ve seen a cop smack a video camera held by an activist. And I saw video of a man nicknamed “Que”: Lawyers called police tactics during his arrest an “Eric Garner choke hold” (read page Raheem F. Hosseini’s essay on page 10 for more on this incident). That statement’s an insult to Garner and his family—it wasn’t a choke hold—but the arrest wasn’t necessary, either.

There was a fragile peace between cops and protesters when the Right to Rest occupation began at City Hall in early December. It’s now decayed.

Before something awful happens: Put a moratorium on enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance. Have the protesters agree to leave City Hall. Let the cops do their jobs instead of monitoring and arresting activists. Give city staff time to analyze anti-camping ordinance data.

Let’s have a rest. Please.