Saturday, October 24, 2009

The dismissed charges against the C Street campers

There was an article in Friday's Bee that a homeless friend and I greatly disbelieve.

The piece, " Sacramento County DA drops homeless camping charges," is disbelieved since it is absurd to suppose, as must be inferred from the story, that the DA's office was continuing to contemplate prosecuting illegal campers at attorney Mark Merin's C Street property after already dismissing charges against Merin, who is their lawyer and the property owner who conceived and directed the homeless actors in a conspiratorial crime of illegal camping. [Oh, all right. As conspiracies go, this wasn't a huge deal. Admittedly.]

Let us backtrack and recall briefly the history of the C Street camping misadventure:
On August 21 homeless people involved with the so-called Safe Ground Campaign set up tents, provided by Loaves & Fishes, on a small parcel of property on C Street near 13th owned by Mark Merin.

On September 11, City Attorney Eileen M. Teichert asked for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Merin to close the camp.

On September 19, Mayor Johnson met with campers at the site, persuading them to leave in exchange for his pledge that he would pursue solutions to homelessness in the city. [Of course, had Merin asked the campers to leave, they'd have done so immediately.]

A September 22 story in the Bee, titled "Camp closure won't end Sacramento homeless issue," tells us that Homeless World Sac consigliere Mark Merin was off the hook for ringleading the C Street misadventure: "According to an e-mail from City Attorney Eileen Teichert to Johnson and the City Council, the city and Mark Merin – the attorney who owns the vacant property and was being sued by the city for allowing the campground – agreed to the terms of a settlement to the case Friday."

Yet a small fly was abuzz around Merin's head. The story tells us: "Still on track is a lawsuit filed by Pedro Hernandez, who lives next to the lot and is suing Merin. Hernandez's attorney could not be reached for comment Monday, but Merin said that suit 'would make no sense.'"
But, truly, it's Friday's story that makes no sense.

Only now are the C Street campers' 32 citations being dropped by the DA's office!?  The big fish [so far as this small-pond story goes] was Mark Merin, who was off the hook four weeks ago.

The campers did as Merin or the safe ground logistics committee [which included Mrs. Merin] instructed.  The campers are all guppies; not the big fish.  Grunt soldiers, taking orders, in the campaign, controlled by the Sac'to homeless-help industry and a couple of P Street lawyers.

Did cowardly Merin first save his own skin, leaving the campers to dangle in the DA's net?  It quite possibly wasn't like that.

Here are other scenerios:
  1. So long as the campers were still charged with a crime, it benefited Merin with his effort to settle the suit with the neighbor, Pedro Hernandez.  Thus, charges against the campers were left out there to cause Hernandez to think something was being done to punish those who tomented him.
  2. Charges against the campers were left on the books for a period of time until it was clear they weren't returning to the C Street location. And, possibly, to send a message to the campers from the DA that in any "next time" the DA's office won't be so kindly.

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