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Supreme Court May Decide If Homeless People Can Sleep On The Streets, Imperial County’s Andy Ruiz Defends His Heavyweight Belt, And What’s Happening This Weekend

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Can homeless people legally sleep in public places? The U.S. Supreme Court may take up the issue, which could have far-reaching implications in San Diego and other California cities grappling with the state’s homeless crisis. Andy Ruiz’s improbable win as the heavyweight boxing champion last June is inspiring young people in Imperial Valley to follow his footsteps. And, a round up of this weekend’s top events from the annual December Nights holiday festival at Balboa Park to Little Fish’s Comic Savvy.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Should homeless people have the right to sleep on the street. The U S Supreme court today is considering whether to jump into that debate. A coalition of civic groups, many from California are asking the court to consider taking an appeal of a ninth circuit court decision. That ruling prohibited laws aimed at stopping homeless people from sleeping on the street if there is no alternative shelter available. Journey me is Los Angeles times Supreme court reporter David Savage and David, welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 00:29 I'm Erin

Speaker 1: 00:30 now. This case didn't start with homeless people on the streets of LA, but rather with an ordinance up in Boise, Idaho. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 2: 00:39 Yeah. She wouldn't think that was the obvious place for a fight over the homeless. Um, there was a 2007, 2008. This case goes way back. There were some, several homeless people were given fines, 25, $75 for violating the camping ordinance. Some legal aid attorneys brought a lawsuit, uh, in the courts, basically contending it was unconstitutional to punish these people because they had nowhere to live no home. And, um, and, and they ended up winning a major ruling from the ninth circuit court of appeals that said it's cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth amendment to punish or use the criminal laws against people who are sleeping on the sidewalk or camping on the sidewalk and have no other place to live.

Speaker 1: 01:34 And it was a rather sweeping sort of a ruling from the ninth circuit, wasn't it?

Speaker 2: 01:38 Yes, because it basically says if the ninth circuit has the jurisdiction and stands in California and eight other States on the West coast, if it's unconstitutional, then every city in town has a problem with, you know, they can't enforce ordinances against camping and public parks or camping on the sidewalks for weeks on end because almost none of them can say to the court, Oh, we have adequate shelter spaces for every homeless person who could want one.

Speaker 1: 02:08 Now there are at least 20 friend of the court briefs filed in an effort to get this ruling overturned, including from San Diego and LA and several other California communities. What are some of their arguments?

Speaker 2: 02:21 Well, their big legal argument is that the constitution really doesn't have anything to do with this, that it's almost never in the courts history of the, has the court used the eighth amendment cruel and unusual punishment to strike down a law. And you know, everybody knows the eighth amendment from for example, death penalty cases, whether it's cruel to put somebody to death who if their head of mental disability, but the ninth circuit applied the eighth amendment to say all these laws are unconstitutional because you're punishing a person because of his status and he has no way to, anyway, it's a little bit of an unusual legal rationale. And then the second reason of course is what we're talking about that it has a big practical impact that um, a whole lot of cities say we need some authority, some discretion to keep our sidewalks open and to limit, I don't know, camping or limit people from sleeping on the streets in certain places. So we need that authority and it's a big deal if all those laws cannot be enforced.

Speaker 1: 03:25 Now, San Diego is dealt with deadly consequences of having homeless people camped on the streets with inadequate hygiene facilities. 20 people died two years ago in a hepatitis a outbreak. Right now San Diego is making a major effort to provide adequate alternative shelter. But the problem of street living in Los Angeles is even worse. Can LA even hope to provide alternative shelter?

Speaker 2: 03:50 No, not for all the people. I mean, they, they, they are building more shelters. They have more spaces, but there's something like 36,000 people living on the streets and, and the city may have, uh, a couple thousand, 9,000 shelter spaces. So no, there's no way that they can provide shelter to all those people. And so as I say, this court ruling seems to say you can't really use, the city can't really enforce the laws on the sidewalk, uh, because it's, it's cruel in sense, unconstitutional.

Speaker 1: 04:22 One of the arguments against this ruling that you're talking about this cruel and unusual ruling from the ninth circuit is that it's vague. And as you're saying unworkable, for instance, does it address things like situations where homeless people don't want alternative shelter?

Speaker 2: 04:39 No. Um, you are right about the point that it's, it is sort of vague and uncertain because the ninth circuit on the one hand said these laws cannot be enforced. But then some of them seem to think, Oh, we didn't really mean no laws enforced because it's a little bit unclear. Yes. What if there's a shelter available and the person says, Oh, I don't want to go there. Can the city say, well, you can't sleep on the street if there's a shelter space available that's unclear. It's unclear if they've got, if you've got a campsite that's been there on the streets for a long time and it's interfering or blocking, some city officials say we can still use the laws to limit, um, camping or limit, uh, where people sleep. But that's a little bit unclear too.

Speaker 1: 05:24 The Supreme court justices are today considering whether to take up this appeal. What does that mean? What does it involve? Will they be hearing arguments?

Speaker 2: 05:34 Oh, that's what they have to decide. So they meet every Friday, essentially to go over pending appeals. Uh, they will talk about this. This one has a good chance of getting granted because for the reasons we said, there's a whole lot of interest in the case and a lot of practical. So they vote, uh, it takes four votes to grant a case if they're going to grant it. And as I say, I think it's, they won't announce it for another week. They hold them over for a week for a second discussion. Just, it's a procedural thing to make sure there's no flaws. If they grant the case, they will hear it in the spring, maybe March, April, and then issue a ruling. By June,

Speaker 1: 06:14 I have been speaking with Los Angeles times, Supreme court reporter David Savage. David, thank you very much. Good to talk with you.

Speaker 3: 06:26 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 Six months ago. Imperial Valley boxer, Andy Ruiz shocked the world when he became the heavyweight champion. Upsetting the heavily favored Anthony Joshua with their rematch set for this weekend. KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler met with young boxers in Calexico, a region that has moved from the periphery to the very center of the boxing world

Speaker 2: 00:25 after school every week, day 14 year old Genesis Garcia comes to a converted warehouse a mile from the us Mexico border in Calexico. There's a ring, a few punching bags, and a lot of jump ropes. The Baja boxing club is where Garcia's own title quest begins.

Speaker 3: 00:42 I like once you're in the ring and just the adrenaline when you start fighting.

Speaker 2: 00:48 Garcia is already the national champion for our age group and weight class and regularly spars with boys her own age and much older girls.

Speaker 3: 00:57 If you don't get punched, you're not going to have the motivation punch back. You know, if you're gonna look bad, if you don't punch back

Speaker 2: 01:04 like the two dozen other boxers in the gym on Thursday night, ranging in age from five to their early twenties Garcia looks up to the 30 year old heavyweight champion and you were weeds who like them, learn to fight on both sides of the border.

Speaker 3: 01:17 It felt great because it put the city on the spot. Imperial Valley Garcia

Speaker 2: 01:26 spars with Alex [inaudible] and seems to smile a little every time she gets punched before immediately recovering and punching back. The 15 year old GaN slightly bloody after a flurry of punches from Garcia is preparing to fight in Mexicali on Saturday just hours before Ruiz fights across the world in Saudi Arabia where Rees's rise helped propel Guian in the ring.

Speaker 3: 01:49 Motivates you like to become like a champion one day. Like from here from Imperial Valley.

Speaker 2: 01:57 Boxing remains popular in the Imperial Valley even as the sport has lost popularity nationwide. Still many boxers here feel as if the region is overlooked even as it's punched well above its weight. For years. RO Lao has run the bajo boxing club for over 10 years. Like everyone else who grew up around boxing on the California Mexico border. He knew Ruiz from his earliest fights. He says that Ruiz has shown the fighters that you can do anything. Nothing is impossible in life. He believed that he could be champion and now he is. It's entirely possible that another champion could come out of the Valley. 13 year old Sarah, he Sanchez first came to the gym with her older brother over a year ago. She describes her style of boxing as fought the daughter.

Speaker 3: 02:43 You throw a lot of punches, you go forward and you keep on going.

Speaker 2: 02:49 Sanchez also has a big fight set for this Saturday. Her words of advice for Andy Ruiz.

Speaker 3: 02:55 Well, good luck. Try your best and we'll you can do it.

Speaker 4: 03:00 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 03:00 the bell rings after two hours of training as the young boxers set off into the desert night, some are heading to Mexicali for another training session. Others had homework on Saturday. Their eyes will turn to a match across the world. As the first ever Mexican American heavyweight champion tries to defend his title and prove to the world that the road to boxing greatness now runs through the Imperial Valley. Max Roven Adler, K PVS news.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Holiday activities start ramping up today as the 42nd annual bell boa park. December nights gets underway. The free holiday festival runs tonight and tomorrow. But remember, parking can be a challenge. So plan ahead if you want to look past the weekend. Blind spot collectives production. Danny's story was created with San Diego LGBTQ plus youth performances are set this month at various high schools and at the Lyceum theater on December 11th and KPBS arts reporter Beth Huck Amando suggests another event, little fishes, comic savvy holiday edition. She speaks with little fish comic book studios, executive director, Alonzo nuñez to explain what us savvy is all about.

Speaker 2: 00:46 Alonzo, you run little fish comics on klahoma Boulevard. Explain to people what this is if they've never been there.

Speaker 3: 00:53 Yeah, so a little fish complex studio is a nonprofit comic art studio and advocacy group, which kind of put an English means that, uh, we teach classes, we run camps, all the kind of cool, fun art studio stuff that you would expect. But then we do a lot of advocacy for, uh, comic books in general. So we run, uh, community events. We, uh, have different partnerships around the city to involve the community, to involve schools. Uh, it kind of to convince everyone that comics are a legitimate art form, that they can be educational, that they can be fun and that they are a true American art form.

Speaker 2: 01:29 And I've been to your shop or your place and there are frequently a lot of kids there. So what kind of stuff do you do with kids in terms of allowing them a chance to draw or to read comics?

Speaker 3: 01:40 Uh, we often have kids in there, even throughout the day, you know, uh, we have different, uh, groups that are homeschooled. We might have a girl scout girl scout troupe. Uh, the girl Scouts have a badge in comic book art making, which is amazing. So they'll come in, uh, we'll get en to welve kids in for that. They'll sit down, uh, I'll teach them the fundamentals of making comics, me or ne of the other instructors. Uh, and then they'll go out with a badge throughout the week. Uh, students come in and they get the fundamentals of comics from, uh, writing comics to drawing comics. To the collaboration of comics, which is really important to me. So they learn how to collaborate. So ne student might do the initial pencil drawing, they pass it over to another student to ink, they pass it to another student to color so that they learn the kind of uh, the joy of kind of artistic collaboration from a young age. Uh, when I was, when I was young, I just remember being almost like a Hobbit in my bedroom, you know, over a desk with a ballpoint pen. So I like to open it up as much as possible cause for me going to art school, a big part of it was uh, seeing what everyone else was doing. And so we like to keep that collaborative spirit kind of just uh, embedded in the studio.

Speaker 2: 02:45 And ne of the things you do on a regular basis is something you call a comic savvy and you have your holiday ne coming up. What is a comic savvy?

Speaker 3: 02:53 So a comic savvy is a chance for students, teachers, professionals, but also just lay people that love comic books to come into the studio. Right. I often feel bad because, uh, parents, uh, or younger siblings or even older siblings that maybe aren't artistic will come in for a family member's class just to drop them off or to see the studio and they look around and they go, this is amazing. But, uh, we realized early on that there was a desire for little fish to be a community hub. And so, uh, every, every month or so we opened up the doors. We buy donuts, we have free comic books. And beyond that, it's a chance for people to come in, see the space, talk shop, you know, uh, whether they be professionals, fans, uh, students, uh, and just get to, uh, get to see the space to explore it.

Speaker 3: 03:39 We have people that come in and all they want to do is just sit and like read from our library for hree hours. Right. And some people, some students will come in and they're like, I've been wanting to read the stack of books. They just take the stack of books. They go up to our reading room and they're just there for hree hours. They're like, they grab a donut. They're like, don't talk to me, don't bother me. Right? This is is my time. But so we leave it open for whatever people want to do with the studio in those hree hours.

Speaker 2: 04:01 And this is a free event.

Speaker 3: 04:02 It's a free event, uh, absolutely free. Uh, all ages. Uh, families are welcome. Welcome to come. We'll have a big butcher paper out for people to draw on and uh, kind of create.

Speaker 2: 04:12 Now this is your holiday events, so it's meant to have a lot of holiday cheer. However, we just lost obert Scott who was the owner of the wo kamikaze bookstores, ne in Liberty station, ne in Claremont. He'd be passed away. And this leaves a big question Mark for our pop culture community. I mean, it's a great loss of him as a person, but also he's run these wo stores. What does it mean for the comics community? Um, if the future of those stores is up in the air,

Speaker 3: 04:43 it's hard. Whenever something like this happens, um, it's always big. But Robert feels particularly big. Losing him. It's, I mean there's the logistics just of it being wo stores, not ne store, but Robert was such a presence in San Diego as not just a retailer, but he occasionally published books. Um, and he was always incredibly generous and open with his studio's use as a community space. Um, I worked with a school last year and they had their book published and just complete without, without me had approached him to see if they could set up a table out front to sell their, uh, their comic. And of course Robert being the generous soul that he was said. Of course. Absolutely. And so they sold their comic in the evening. It's, it's frankly, it's going to be hard. Beth. It's San Diego is a big city and our, our nerd community, our pop culture community has a lot of generosity of spirit.

Speaker 3: 05:34 Hopefully someone can step up and kind of maybe take over those stores would be the best, uh, the best back cause those stores are really anchors for the communities of, of Claremont. And then over in Liberty station, uh, what he was building along with, uh, IDW being foundation. There was a really great kind of nerd hub. Um, and it, it would be incredibly sad to see that, to see that go away. I'm hoping that someone, um, can fill that. If not, um, I hope that kind of like when villainous layer was forced to close a couple of years ago, that community, uh, finds another kind of bedrock somewhere in San Diego. That'd be my, that'd be my hope.

Speaker 2: 06:18 And we also are at a time when mysterious galaxy may also be forced to close. So it feels like particularly sad time for people who love books that are not necessarily of the mainstream.

Speaker 3: 06:30 Absolutely. In LA bodega just, uh, had to, had a, um, was forced to move out the end of the month. Uh, the gallery down in Barrio Logan, of course, it feels like a pop culture community in San Diego is, uh, up in flux a little bit right now. Um, right. Uh, it's often said that it was a, a, a curse, not a, not a hope. May you live in interesting times. Right. It feels like San Diego is in interesting times right now. Right.

Speaker 2: 06:56 All right. Well I wanna thank you for talking about little fish. Absolutely. Thank you. That was Beth Armando speaking with Alonzo nuñez of little fish comics. Tonight the studio is hosting its comic savvy holiday edition from ven tto n tthe event is free.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.