Nearly two weeks after their arrest at a civil protest in Puyallup’s main downtown park, six activists for homeless people were arraigned in Puyallup Municipal Court on Thursday.
Among them was Ted Brackman, a vocal advocate for homelessness services in East Pierce County.
Brackman and the others pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges that they violated the city’s park ordinance. Their next court appearance is set for July 6.
They were arrested around 3 a.m. May 16 during a symbolic sleep-in at the end of a public seminar about a lack of services for homeless individuals in the area.
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Puyallup police Capt. Ryan Portmann said Friday that the group was arrested for “remaining in the park after hours,” a misdemeanor offense that could result in fines, community service or jail time.
The public seminar that started in Pioneer Park the night of May 15 was permitted, but the permit expired at 10 p.m. Portmann said the protesters, who pitched tents in the park to camp overnight, were arrested without incident to avoid any problems with the farmers market the morning of May 16.
“Those hours signs are posted throughout the park,” he said. “We couldn’t allow the protest to disrupt the farmers market.”
Brackman says the city’s code, combined with a lack of shelters and other resources, has made it “illegal” to be homeless in and around Puyallup.
City officials disagree. They say police officers work to connect homeless people with available community resources.