The crowd was huge and the streets filled with people, banners, and music. Thanks in part to organizing by Santa Cruz Indivisible (which my friend Steve calls “Indistinguishable”), the NAACP (apparently no complaints about racism in the last year according to a staffer at their table), the RCNV (marching arm and arm with the armed and violent), and, of course, the main weapon-toters in town, the SCPD.
I walked along with a small “The Cops are Not Gods Over Us” sign and distributed a flyer. See https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215519544920940&set=pcb.1661308183891202&type=3&theater&ifg=1 .
I also distributed a longer updated version of a flyer HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) has been distributing for several years, demanding radical changes in the SCPD. I’m attaching this flyer–which is the real point of this article.
Elsewhere on facebook Steve Schnaar and Steve Argue have made criticisms of the rally, with Abbi Samuels noting the sell-out putdown cry of “All Lives Matter” wafting over the parade. See https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215519544920940&set=pcb.1661308183891202&type=3&theater&ifg=1 [Shouting “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter” is like shouting “What About Cancer!” in response to “Fight AIDS!”.
I can’t deny I enjoyed the parade. But there was a superficiality to it all that bothered me later. In the face of the Happy Face mood, I found it harder than usual to focus on the hard questions that the one-day paraders were fluffing over. I found the dialogue between me and the cops I spoke to reduced to stereotyped acknowledgments, a kind of manufactured peace. Wasn’t it King who said “There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.?”…
The false camaraderie helped to build the illusion that police are always trying to foster that they are “your friends”. In 2018 Santa Cruz, this is simply not true. Particularly for youth, activists, poor people, and people of color. It’s a treacherous assumption to start with. But it certainly helps police gather information, ignore embarrassing questions, and silence angry dissent.
Was King’s memory again being turned into a rallying platform for established politicians (Zack Friend, Andy Mills, a clot of reactionary City Council members) with no focus on actual racist practices here in Santa Cruz? Were we watching another organizing party for the Democrats, perhaps wearying of their latest anti-Russian hysteria–again with substantive issues of a local kind largely ignored (with the exception of some individual activists)?
Were we being sheepdogged again, Bernie Sanders-style, into the Brighter Day where we’d have the Happy Choice of a Wall Street Warmonger over a Racist Blowhard–all pushing the same lethal agenda in different language? Did reassurances from police officials and politicians mean we no longer had to face down class brutality, greedy landlords, compliant bureaucrats, and their armed guards with clarity, solidarity, anger and determination?
I’ll be playing interviews from the parade on Thursday evening (1-17) at 6 PM on Free Radio at 101.3 FM, streaming at freakradio.org. The show will archive at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html a day later.