Federal move to seize 2 Novato pot-club buildings

by Vivian Ho
SF Chronicle, April 26, 2012

Federal prosecutors are moving to seize two Novato buildings that house medical-marijuana dispensaries, following through on warnings they began issuing last fall when they announced a campaign against California’s pot clubs.

The U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco went to federal court Monday asking that the landlords of the Green Door Wellness Education Center and the neighboring Green Tiger dispensary forfeit their properties on Redwood Boulevard. By Wednesday, Green Tiger had already closed.

Federal prosecutors have sent letters to at least 300 dispensaries in California, threatening prosecution and asset forfeiture for allegedly violating federal law against marijuana distribution, said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group.

About 300 dispensaries have voluntarily shut down, including five in San Francisco, Hermes said. Some had been pressured by federal prosecutors, and others were scared off by the government’s campaign, he said.

But Hermes said he could “count on one hand” the number of asset forfeitures the federal government has pursued.

“It’s rare for them to act on their threats, period,” Hermes said. “I think they’re trying to make an example to the broader population.”

Sara Zalkin, an attorney who specializes in marijuana cases, said she knew of no previous instances in which federal prosecutors have gone to court to seize a dispensary landlord’s building.

“They sent letters threatening landlords, basically saying that they were putting them on notice because they believed there were controlled substances being stored or distributed on their properties,” Zalkin said. “But I have not personally experienced or heard of the feds actually moving toward forfeiture.”

Under state law, distribution of marijuana for medical use is legal, but it’s illegal under federal law. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco declined to comment on the Novato cases.

The complaints prosecutors filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco cite alleged violations of federal law and municipal zoning codes.

Lawrence Pebbles, director of the Green Door Wellness Education Center, said he plans to continue business as usual until a judge tells him otherwise. He’s had a tense relationship with his landlord, David Cesena, in the past – Cesena recently tried to evict him, but a Marin County Superior Court judge ruled against him.

Cesena could not be reached for comment Thursday. Neither could Green Tiger’s landlords, Kerry and Martin O’Brien.

Pebbles opened his dispensary in April 2010. He said his client list has grown to almost 1,800, with 20 to 30 regulars a day.

“Without a legitimate, safe access, patients will be forced to seek alternatives, which are less safe, less accessible,” Pebbles said. “There’s a higher level of vulnerability when you have to go to the black market.”

He added, “There are a lot of arguments in both directions, but all I know is that prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it doesn’t seem to be working for cannabis either.”

Judge says the prosecution “Might have some problems” with case against Bank Takeover

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 25, 2012

Original Post

  SCPD police evidence photo of Councilmember Katherine Beiers leaving the scene of the crime at 75 River Street at 3:31PM on December 1st

 

NOTE TO READER: This excellent article by Brad Kava of the Santa Cruz Patch contains many details of Monday’s April 23rd preliminary hearing for four of the Santa Cruz Eleven. However, Gunter did not testify to damage Kava describes as “tearing up pipes, damaging electrical fixtures, writing on walls,” nor have any of the over 600 photos provided to defense attorneys shown this. Gunter on March 13th described “graffiti inside the elevator” but no photo of that damage has been turned over to the defense. The ONLY  graffiti shown in police photos was on the air conditioning ducts on the ROOF. Gunter also testified that the property manager told him over the telephone that the work had been completed “by 5 contractors” but that he did not have copies of those work orders and had not followed up by contacting any of the contractors directly. None of the bills for damages have been turned over to the defense as of April 25th, almost 3 months after charges were first filed and almost 5 months after the building was “vandalized.”   In the meantime, one defendant has attempted suicide, two defendants have been denied the ability to renew their teaching credentials, several defendants have spent thousands of dollars on bail money and private attorneys. One defendant may have lost her housing due to these charges. Another defendant must travel by public transportation for 3 and a half hours each way to attend each hearing. All citizens must worry about walking in a march or attending a meeting, fearing that they too will be arrested for felony “aiding and abetting” should another person at the meeting or march actually commit a crime.

                                                   — Becky Johnson, Ed.   (full disclosure: I am a defendant in this case)

  “Squat the World” graffiti at 75 River Street SCPD evidence photo, Dec 5, 2011

Judge Says the Prosecution “Might Have Some Problems” With Case Against Bank Takeover Defendants

Santa Cruz, Ca. — At the first day of a preliminary hearing, Santa Cruz County Judge Paul P. Burdick asked the prosecution to come up with some arguments about why he should carry the case to trial.

 

In a surprising development, a Santa Cruz County judge told a courtroom Monday that the state’s case against four protesters accused of trespassing and vandalism last November at the vacant Coast Commerce Bank appeared to be lacking sufficient evidence to go to trial.

“I have to say that at first blush ‘The People’ might have some problems with these four defendants,” Judge Paul P. Burdick said at the end of the first day of preliminary hearing. The four defendants – Franklin Alacantara,  Edward Rector, Grant Wilson and Cameron Laurendau – have been charged with felony conspiracy to commit vandalism, for being part of a takeover of the vacant bank at 75 River St. Nov. 30, which left the building with $22,000 of damage.

If convicted they could be sentenced to three years in prison and a fine that would cover the damages, according to prosecutor Rebekah Young. The prosecutor has claimed that by trespassing in the bank building, the suspects are guilty of the vandalism that resulted. She has filed a conspiracy charge that she says ties the trespass to the vandalism.

Four public defenders arguing against her said that because this is a first amendment protest, a higher standard of proof is needed, such as direct evidence of a crime.

More than 100 people were in and out of the bank building during the protest, according to testimony Monday. However, District Attorney Bob Lee and Santa Cruz Police only came up with enough evidence to charge 11 people. The DA’s office even posted pictures and videos on YouTube and Facebook asking the public to help identify suspects.

Evidence presented Monday seemed shaky during testimony by two Santa Cruz Police officers.
Officer William Winston said he saw two of the suspects going in and out of the bank building, but didn’t witness them doing any vandalism, nor could he say how long they stayed in the building. Detective David Gunter saw none of the suspects at the bank, but as the officer put in charge of the investigation, he recognized them from videos and pictures taken by other officers.

However, he too could provide no evidence that they stayed in the building after being told to leave, one of the requirements for trespass. Nor could he provide evidence that they had met and organized the takeover, which would document the conspiracy charge.

“They are trying to scoop up too many people into a net,” said defense attorney Jamyrson Pattori, after the judge asked the prosecutor to present more legal arguments via email before oral arguments continue Wednesday at 10 a.m.. “Some people were just looky-loos and some kids were just attracted to the music. They are just trying to incorporate everybody.”

Judge Burdick asked Young, the prosecutor, to supply him with an email listing cases setting precedents for her arguments to be received by him and the defense attorneys by noon Tuesday. Then, the preliminary hearing would continue Wednesday.

A preliminary hearing is the chance for the judge to decide if there is enough evidence to hold a trial. Two of the 11, Alex Darocy and Bradley Stuart Allen, will be tried May 29. The others are still pending preliminary hearings.

Some other suprising things emerged in the hearing.
*The prosecutor asked to use photographs taken inside the bank by the defendants because, she said, they were better than the ones submitted by police.

Her request was denied because the photos were used in the hearing of Darocy and Allen, and hadn’t been given to defense attorneys as part of discovery in this case.

*Police had three grenadiers standing by on November 30 prepared to launch chemical weapon grenades into the bank, if needed. Detective Gunter was one of them, but he said he was sent away after a short time appraising the takeover.

*The estimated cost of the damages dropped from $30,000 to &20,000-$22,000, after police asked the banks lessee, Wells Fargo, to provide itemized accounting of the repairs needed to fix the damage done by vandals who tore up pipes, damaged electrical fixtures, wrote on walls and piled up furniture to block doors.

*District Attorney Bob Lee assigned one of his newest prosecutors to the case. Rebekah Young, a former TV journalist, only started working for the office in December and this is her first big local case. She had no investigators or backup attorneys at her table, something unusual for such a high-profile case.

*It took the District Attorney three months to file the 11 charges in the case. They were filed February 9. The takeover started November 30 and lasted a couple of days.

WILPF passes Letter of Support for Santa Cruz Eleven

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 25, 2012

Original Post

Ligue Internationale de Femmes pour la Paix et la Liberté
Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad
Internationale Frauenliga für Frieden und Freiheit

Santa Cruz Branch

P.O. Box 61 Santa Cruz, CA 95063           E-mail: wilpf@wilpf.got.net                Website: http://wilpf.got.net

Statement of Support
April 20, 2012

The Santa Cruz Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)  condemns the action of local law enforcement in attempting to prosecute eleven local activists who are alleged to have occupied the long-deserted bank building at Water and River Streets last fall.

Four of the defendants are journalists, who were present to report to the community on the protests.  The First Amendment is clear on the rights of journalists to observe and print their findings; the charges against them should be dropped immediately.

It is also apparent that some of the defendants have been targeted for arrest (out of the hundreds who went in and out of the building over the several days of the occupation) because of previous brushes with law enforcement officials. The Constitution forbids charging people with crimes on the basis of their identity or past actions.

Santa Cruz Occupy, a grass-roots movement to attempt to change our extremely unfair economy and end the corporatocracy that now has de facto control of our country, has injured no one, and like all citizens, has a right to be treated with fairness and respect.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
P.O. Box 61,
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Judge still mulling charges against 4 accused in takeover of former bank

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 24, 2012

Original Post

 SCPD police photo Dec 1, 2011 at 75 River Street

 NOTE TO READER:  Judge Paul Burdick refused to allow Assistant DA Rebekah Young to use photos which were never provided to the defense. Despite over 600 photos being turned over to defense attorneys, none of the photos Young intended to use in court on Monday were among them. Defense attorneys also sought video footage shot from the police car of Officer William Winston and Officer Forbus, mentioned at the Preliminary hearing on March 13th for Alex Darocy and Bradley Allen, but yet to be produced. Also, footage of defendant, Cameron Laurendau was referred to by Det. Guntner on the stand, but had not been turned over to Cameron’s attorney despite being 4 and half months AFTER the crime and over two months since the indictments were handed down. Interestingly, Guntner testified that on Dec 2nd when he accompanied Officer Hedley in posting “no trespassing”notices, that none of the officers spoke to the defendants.  Yet, in the video posted by DA Bob Lee online on youtube, you can clearly SEE a police officer discussing something with defendant Laurendau, after he’s exited the building (and within 2 minutes of officers posting the notice), an act which Guntner testified “never happened.” Inexplicably, the clip has been stripped of its soundtrack so the public can’t know what the content of that conversation was.  The preliminary hearing continues on Wednesday at 10:00AM in dept 6.  The remaining defendants, myself included, face a preliminary hearing on May 29th at 1:30PM in Dept. 6.  — Becky Johnson, Ed.

 

Judge still mulling charges against 4 accused in takeover of former bank

Posted:   04/23/2012 07:42:51 PM PDT
Protesters link arms as the face off with Santa Cruz police last… (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ – A judge declined Monday to issue an immediate ruling in the case of four people charged in connection with the takeover of a former bank last year to allow more time to research the legal issues involved.
“At first blush, I think the people may have some problems with these four defendants,” Judge Paul Burdick said, after hearing the prosecution’s evidence in a preliminary hearing Monday.
Cameron Laurendau, Franklin Alcantara, Edward Rector and Grant Wilson are among the 11 people charged after the takeover of the former Wells Fargo Bank at 75 River St. in late November and early December. They face felony charges of conspiracy and vandalism along with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing.
Detective David Guntner of the Santa Cruz Police Department, who led the investigation into the nearly 72-hour takeover, testified about the evidence, primarily photographs, used to identify those charged.
“Who vandalized the bank?” Alcantara’s attorney, Jesse Ruben, asked.
“I don’t know,” replied Guntner, who said he viewed video of Alcantara entering and exiting the bank, but he didn’t know how long he remained inside.
Those involved in the bank takeover left peacefully after nearly 72 hours of negotiations with police.
Burdick said the case posed a number of legal issues, including a lack of evidence proving the four defendants entered the building after being requested to leave. He ordered all four defendants, their attorneys and prosecutor Rebekah Young back to court Wednesday, when he’s expected to issue a ruling on whether to hold the four to the charges.
Supporters of the so-called Santa Cruz Eleven have said the District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the constitutional right to protest. In a letter published in the Sentinel earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Santa Cruz County chapter called for the charges to be dismissed.
Last month, a judge dismissed the vandalism charge against two other defendants, Alex Darocy and Bradley Allen, but held them to charges of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespassing. The two, whose attorneys say they were at 75 River St. acting as journalists, are scheduled for trial next month. A preliminary hearing for the other five defendants is still pending.

Judge still mulling charges against 4 accused in takeover of former bank

JESSICA M. PASKO

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   04/23/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A judge declined Monday to issue an immediate ruling in the case of four people charged in connection with the takeover of a former bank last year to allow more time to research the legal issues involved.

“At first blush, I think the people may have some problems with these four defendants,” Judge Paul Burdick said, after hearing the prosecution’s evidence in a preliminary hearing Monday.

Cameron Laurendau, Franklin Alcantara, Edward Rector and Grant Wilson are among the 11 people charged after the takeover of the former Wells Fargo Bank at 75 River St. in late November and early December. They face felony charges of conspiracy and vandalism along with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing.

Detective David Guntner of the Santa Cruz Police Department, who led the investigation into the nearly 72-hour takeover, testified about the evidence, primarily photographs, used to identify those charged.

“Who vandalized the bank?” Alcantara’s attorney, Jesse Ruben, asked.

“I don’t know,” replied Guntner, who said he viewed video of Alcantara entering and exiting the bank, but he didn’t know how long he remained inside.

Those involved in the bank takeover left peacefully after nearly 72 hours of negotiations with police.

Burdick said the case posed a number of legal issues, including a lack of evidence proving the four defendants entered the building after being requested to leave. He ordered all four defendants, their attorneys and prosecutor Rebekah Young back to court Wednesday, when he’s expected to issue a ruling on whether to hold the four to the charges.

Supporters of the so-called Santa Cruz Eleven have said the District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the constitutional right to protest. In a letter published in the Sentinel earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Santa Cruz County chapter called for the charges to be dismissed.

Last month, a judge dismissed the vandalism charge against two other defendants, Alex Darocy and Bradley Allen, but held them to charges of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespassing. The two, whose attorneys say they were at 75 River St. acting as journalists, are scheduled for trial next month. A preliminary hearing for the other five defendants is still pending.

Treading on the Occupation

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 18, 2012

Original Post

Santa Cruz County has chosen to interpret gathering in a long empty building as a felony, so as to ensure the sanctity of corporate possessions. The current charges consider dialog as conspiracy and support as aiding and abetting.  Occupy is regenerating in New York. And in Santa Cruz?

Treading on the Occupation
by Sylvia Caras
Sunday Apr 15th, 2012
From: Indybay.org/santacruz 
Santa Cruz County has chosen to interpret gathering in a long empty building as a felony, so as to ensure the sanctity of corporate possessions. The current charges consider dialog as conspiracy and support as aiding and abetting.

The District Attorney has posted online video and photos, asking residents to identify those not so far charged. I’m reminded of the Salem Witchcraft trials, informers during World War II, McCarthyism. Since when do we encourage friends to betray friends? To ask friends to tell on each other?

Speech and assembly are sacred principles in the United States, and respect for law under girds our social cooperation. But believing that assembly is conspiracy and possessions of corporations are entitled to the same courtesy as human beings is an unbalanced use of the authority of elected office. Law is based on common sense and subject to change as society changes. And society is changing very fast.

Those involved in social protest are not slackers. Quite the opposite. They are working hard to educate, to make sure even those who are very very busy are aware of how badly governance is functioning. Common law adjusts for the common good; governance needs a major adjustment.

Law enforcement nationally was disrespectful to Occupy, tread on encampments, bullied earnest speakers. Locally Santa Cruz imposed a curfew on assembly.

Domineering constraint is apt to trigger the desire to do more of the thing suppressed. So far this intimidating strategy has frightened many, reduced the size of the Occupy Santa Cruz General Assemblies, and lead to loss of licenses and credentials.

Occupy is regenerating in New York. And in Santa Cruz?

Support the Santa Cruz Eleven!  Log onto santacruzeleven.org to sign the petition.

In memorium: Robert “Blindbear” Facer, Teepee visionary, Sleeping Ban opponent

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 16, 2012

Original Post

Personal reflections on Robert “Blind Bear” Facer by Becky Johnson

April 16, 2012
 Robert “Blindbear” Facer Jan 2010 photo by Becky Johnson
Santa Cruz, Ca. — Amish minister, traveler, and Sleeping Ban opponent, Robert “Blindbear” Facer passed today after a brief hospitalization in Monterey.  Facer was 58 years old.  I met Robert Facer a few years ago and he immediately impressed me as being a unique character on the streets of Santa Cruz.  While he did enjoy the herb of choice, he never drank alcohol, and was always clear-headed and purposeful.
I never saw him when he wasn’t barefoot with a raggedy hat with a feather stuck in it.  As an Amish minister, he refused to use modern transportation and would have to plan days in advance to visit Capitola or elsewhere.  He told us he came to Santa Cruz by coming down the coast in a canoe he’d made by hand.  He constantly ran into problems with law enforcement as he continued to attempt to build an Amish temple on the flood plane of the San Lorenzo River out of driftwood, and other natural materials.  He came to HUFF meetings, and patiently waited his turn for his item to come up on our agenda. It was always the same item: a teepee.
 Robert “Blindbear” Facer’s teepee springs up at the start of Occupy Santa Cruz in October 2011. Photo by Donna Deiss
While HUFF officially endorsed his mission to build a teepee in Santa Cruz, we had little hope it would spring into being for longer than a few hours at best.  But when Occupy Santa Cruz moved its encampment to the northern end of the benchlands along the San Lorenzo River, Robert Facer, along with helpers Gail Page and his attorney, Ed Frey  got consensus from OSC to build an “art project” and within hours, the full size teepee was erected.
Robert Facer himself painted a red cross on the teepee, which to most indicated a medical tent.  I’m not sure that’s what HE meant.  He then allowed others to decorate the exterior, with one restriction: no words.  I expected Robert, a homeless man, to move in and take residence in the teepee, but he never did.
It became a shelter for those who arrived who had nothing at all. It was cool, even in the hot sun as it provided shade but adequate ventilation. And it was easily closed to keep it fairly warm and comfortable after dark.  Facer used 22 bamboo poles and covered the exterior with a lightweight plastic covering used by growers for greenhouse operations. The end came when police crushed the encampment on December 8th 2011 and police trashed the teepee and Zach Friend announced in the press they had removed “8 tons of garbage.”
Officer Inouye issues a $425 citation to Facer who didn’t sing a word. photo by Becky Johnson
I have very few photos of him, despite his obvious photographic appeal. As an Amish man, he believed that allowing his photograph to be taken was wrong.  He asked me to not photograph him, so, that every time I DID photograph him, I was filled with guilt.  Now each photo is precious.
Facer was involved in two court cases that I am familiar with. First, Attorney Ed Frey took his sleeping ban ticket to court, and once convicted for sleeping out of doors while keeping an eye on his canoe, Frey took Facer’s case on appeal.  In part, Ed Frey started his Peace Camp 2010 because the court had inexplicably postponed Facer’s appeal for five months.  Facer later lost the appeal because the court ruled he could have gone to a shelter, and therefore had no right to sleep in a public place.
Facer was also convicted for unreasonably disturbing noise when he very lightly played a small drum and didn’t sing a word.  The Song Crime Massacre of 2010 had police citing 4 people, two who sang a few songs in the middle of the afternoon in the Free Speech Zone in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz. One woman who came down to see what the commotion was about, and Robert “Blindbear” Facer.
The photo I have is from when he was issued a $425 citation for not singing a word.  He was later convicted by Commission Kim Baskett for “conspiring” to disturb workers inside BSSC, a “crime” Baskett invented since there was no testimony given to support this claim.
I last got an e-mail from Robert Facer saying he was in Monterrey. He must have walked or canoed there. As an Amish person, Facer didn’t believe in modern transportation. Ironically, he told us he can use cellphones and the internet. He always made us wonder.  This morning, Ronee Curry posted the sad message that Robert has passed. Our community is lessened by his loss, less colorful, less thoughtful, and has one less warrior fighting for justice.

God Bless you, Robert Facer, and goodbye, my friend. And thanks to you for your visionary Teepee, your message of compassion for each human being, and all of the wisdom you brought to us.

Comments on DA Bob Lee’s Witch Hunt

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 16, 2012

Original Post

The Santa Cruz Eleven are charged with 23 felonies and misdemeanors for their presence at a peaceful occupation of a long-vacant bank, leased by Wells Fargo Corporation. A petition urging DA Bob Lee to dismiss the charges can be found here.

Some of those who signed the petition have also left comments. Here is a selection:

I think that given the circumstances, and the spirit of solidarity that these protestors demonstrated for a cause that supports our ever increasing population of poverty stricken Americans. It has become important to tolerate different nonviolent forms of protest. These people were protesting the fact that the Banking system was bailed out with money contributed by the Tax Payers of the United States, yet they have foreclosed on many working citizens in our neighborhoods. I think occupying an empty bank fits right into this theme, and did do not much damage or hurt anyone. By dropping these charges, it will send a message that we value the people of our community that are trying to make a difference for the poor working man.
Allen Noonan, CA

I agree with the actions of non-violent activists and support their actions regarding the bank protest. It is unfair to target certain individuals and punish them, for speaking for the majority of Americans. Please see that the case is thrown out.
Mr. Nick Hendricks, CA

Our local culture is inclusive and forgiving – UCSC named themselves City on a Hill and professors consider Santa Cruz The Leftmost City. Eyes are on us, even iPhone’s Siri recognizes Santa Cruz. How about a less moralistic, more pragmatic resolution? The charges themselves demonstrate the county’s sense of affront. It’s enough. Let’s dismiss all the related charges and cases and not file any more!
Sylvia Caras, CA

D.A. Bob Lee is using his office to stifle peaceful dissent.
Ms. Gail Williamson, CA

Felony charges are unjustified for trespassing on a vacant property. Considering that the sincere purpose for those involved was an act of political free speech and that many others were also there and NOT charged any charges at all are unjustified.
Mr. Joseph Vella, CA

Dear Sir, During this time of the Occupy Movement, as you know, there have been thousands and thousands of peaceful demonstrations WORLDWIDE. These brave patriots here in our city of Santa Cruz made a valid point with their Occupation of the vacant building, leaving once that point was made, hurting no one whatsoever. There is a time and a season for these demonstrations and it was exactly when needed. These courageous people do not need to be in prison, they need to be heard; they echo the voices of millions on this planet we share and call HOME. In this day and age of war and occupation, the points to be made sometimes need to be theatrical– as in these people never intended to lay down and stay there for good, only stand up peacefully for the beliefs of so many over the entire globe. Please lower or drop the charges. Sincerely, Patricia Wieder, a mom in Soquel.
Ms. Patricia Wieder, CA

As if eleven activists charged with fabricated felonies wasn’t enough, Bob Lee is apparently seeking new victims.
Robert Norse, CA

Stop the war on journalists and activists and start attacking the problems we are pointing out!
Ms. Denica De Foy, CA

This is a farce, and a gross miscarriage of justice. It is transparently obvious that the DA is trying to “make an example” of the few most outspoken members of the community in an attempt to suppress dissent. The prosecution of this case is clearly at odds with public interest, and charges should be dropped immediately!
Mr. John Yerger, CA

This is oppression of the worst sort. Surely you know that activists vote.
Sheila Connell, CA

Don’t prosecute journalists for covering a story, and don’t prosecute activists just because they aren’t liked by city officials.
Mr. Peter Maiden, CA

These are not felonies, and trying to make an example of these patriotic individuals is nonsense, and can only backfire in the long run.
Kyle Griffin, CA

These felonies are heavy-handed and unjust. Some of these folks who were charged were simply journalists covering the occupation of this long vacant bank building. It isn’t right to make examples of them, as 200-300 others had entered the building over the 3-day occupation.
Mr. Spencer Wilkinson, CA

I would feel safer as an American citizen if Santa Cruz County’s District Attorney’s office were proceeding with greater care for our Nation’s and state Constitutions this matter.
Ms. Linda Ellen Lemaster, CA

It is absurdly obvious that the DA is trying to make an example of these people because they are intelligent enough to be critical of the police department, and utilize journalism to raise awareness and create community dialogue. This is extremely valuable to the people of Santa Cruz, and is a protective right.
Courtney Hanson, CA

Good Lord, what has this country come to, when journalists not of some people’s choosing are charged with felony when covering a human protest?
Lydia Blanchard, CA

Please drop the charges! These allegations are ridiculous and a poor use of governmental, local funds!
Marisol de la Luz, CA

To the District Attorney: What, exactly, are your criteria for PICKING ON PEOPLE???
Ms. Linda Rosch, DC

Judging from the preliminary brief including the pictures and videos, the Santa Cruz DA HAS NO case.
Mr. Leigh Meyers, CA

FTP.
Gio Andollo, NY

I don’t know why Santa Cruz is wasting money on this case, in clear violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights. There are so many things our city and county needs, and yet time and money are spent on these spurious cases. Let these people go!
Dorah Rosen, CA

My wish would be for justice being distributed equally for all. Selective prosecution with political motives does not align with my notion of what a just judicial system would look like.
R. Garimo Pape, CA

We are a nation born on the principles of freedom. Let’s stand up for that.
Mr. Charles Feldman, RI

Solidarity! Thanks for putting your bodies against the gears of the machine.
Kari Sprung, MN

Please stop harassing these people. The occupy movement is attempting to take back the government for the people of whom you are a part of. Journalists have an obligation to cover the peoples’ news. Stop acting like some dystopic totalitarian state agency.
Mrs. Lynne Heller, CA

“I would like to add that this entire thing is grossly unfair and these people are mostly vegetarians and would not hurt a fly. Prosecuting them for such a minor thing is completely ridiculous.”   –  Blind Bear  Mar 29 2012

DA Bob Lee asks the public to turn in friends, neighbors, and family members

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

April 14, 2012

Original Post

Santa Cruz DA Bob Lee has posted 11 videos on the 75 River St. Occupation
While police detectives testified that they reviewed “20 hours of videotape”
less than an hour of that video has been posted, and only one with its soundtrack intact. None have any date or time stamps. Defense attorneys are complaining this is a completely inadequate way of producing discovery,  by posting on youtube and Facebook.  Robert Norse and I have had our preliminary hearing postponed to May 29th because DA Rebekah Young has failed to produce discovery in a timely manner (and Norse switched attorneys).  The links to Bob Lee’s videos are found here with brief descriptions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6F9eIeZqcA&feature=channel 13:15 possibly the 1st video taken , shows couch and furniture, pallets arriving with police officers doing nothing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5PLYzmWt4&feature=channel 7:30min shows Becky outside in almost last frame on the far, far right (a blur)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxDIjs5AL_M&feature=channel 0:26 min guys on the roof, one hands a sandbag to another (to weigh down banner which was turning over in the wind)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ-FVkGo4bo&feature=channel 1:43 min starts showing Chris Doyon across the street and shows Norse in the doorway at 1:22min either standing there or walking out of building.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQMJAfaVmDM&feature=channel&list=ULhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQMJAfaVmDM&feature=channel&list=UL  8:16 min shows person puts yellow sticker above doorway, people come and go freely as police watch
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5PLYzmWt4&feature=channel 11:34 min starts with Becky on far left, holding a sign saying “Organize!” ; She is seen talking to Katherine Beiers & handing her a red flyer; shows Robert Norse outside building. Identifies Bradley on the roof.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m2rES6u6qQ&feature=channel Is that Sean Reilly seen entering the building at the start of this video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m2rES6u6qQ&feature=channel 4:04 min people coming and going without any police telling them to stay out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjClx4dor-w&feature=relmfuhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjClx4dor-w&feature=relmfu  3:39 min called “The Interview” this video is the only one released with its soundtrack intact. In it, Brent Adams explains the purpose of the Occupation as he sees it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YPXKH_JUVg&feature=relmfu 10:38 Video apparently taken on Dec 2nd when Officer Hedley, Williams, and Det. Gunter came onto the property to post “no trespassing” signs. Seen inside the window directly staring back at police appears to be Cameron Larandeau, who, when warned, is seen exiting the building less than two minutes later.

Oh, and if you’d rather use FACEBOOK to turn in your friends and neighbors, go here.

People Power director to leave for council bid; Micah Posner has run bicycling advocacy group for 10 years

by J.M. BROWN
Santa Cruz Sentinel 04/13/2012

SANTA CRUZ - Micah Posner, director of the vocal bicycling advocacy group People Power, announced Friday he is stepping down in July to run for the City Council.

Posner, 44, a resident of the Lower Ocean area, has been a fixture on the political scene in recent years, pushing for greater and safer bicycling on area roads and in parks. He hopes to parlay that grassroots profile into a council campaign focused not only on alternative transportation, but also on affordable housing, the homeless and campaign financing of local elections.

“It’s one thing among many, but not why I’m running for council,” Posner said of bicycling access. “If I just wanted to keep working on transportation, I’d just stay where I am. I want to work on a wider variety of things.”

Posner said he wants candidates for council to stick to the city’s recommended fundraising limit of $24,000 and change the way the city responds to panhandling and other social issues downtown. He said he wants to see more outreach and intervention in dealing with the homeless.

“I also agree with (Mayor) Don Lane that if we find homes for homeless people they won’t be homeless anymore,” Posner said.

Four of the council’s seven seats are up for grabs in November as Councilmen Ryan Coonerty and Tony Madrigal are termed out after eight years and the four-year terms of Lane and Councilwoman Katherine Beiers come to a close. Lane and Beiers have signaled they are likely to see re-election.

“Micah’s challenge is going to be: when you’re on City Council, it’s a lot less of an advocacy position and more trying to balance different interests across the community,” Coonerty said.

A Riverside native who stayed here after graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 1991, Posner has been director of People Power for 10 years, urging local and state officials to approve bike paths in Arana Gulch and a branch rail line acquisition that could facilitate a rail-trail corridor. Posner cited success in having a bike lane placed on Soquel Avenue and helping to establish the Green Ways to School safety program.

Posner, well known among city officials for his tenacious lobbying, perennially advocates for a bike facility on King Street, one that would serve as an alternative route to Mission Street, where two cyclists have been killed in recent years. Even though he has battled with city staff over its reluctance to study the plan, Posner said he believes bicycling has become an “integral part of the environmental movement.”

“More and more often I find that our biggest obstacle to more sensible transportation is simple inertia, rather than a disagreement about what we want as a community,” Posner wrote in an email announcing his council bid.

Posner said there will be a national search to fill the top job at People Power, but that he will remain a member of its steering committee.

Barry Kirschen, a longtime Santa Cruz High School teacher, said he supports Posner’s candidacy. Kirschen was speaking as a 35-year resident, not as president of the local teachers union.

“I think it would be healthy for there to be a voice on the City Council that is more progressive than our current majority,” Kirschen said. “I think that he understands that Santa Cruz is not all about business and revenue – but that part of what makes our town special is the environment.”

Councilman David Terrazas, elected in 2010 to form a council majority focused on economic development and public safety, said, “I think the fact that many people are out of work right now and the economy continues to struggle locally, it remains a key issue. I hope we hear all candidates talk about helping to improve economic conditions locally.”

Posner, who founded the co-op PedX cycling delivery company in 1994, said he supported the council’s recent move to provide local businesses with an advantage in bidding for city contracts, and he is interested in studying the sufficiency of parking for businesses.