Tuesday Dec 9th, 2014 10:29 PM
Every single speaker opposed the acquisition of a new armored police vehicle at the afternoon City Council meeting. When two speakers turned their backs on the Council, outgoing Mayor Robinson made arrest threats, further heightening the tension in the room. At one point the Council left the room, leaving the community to organize its own meeting. They shortly returned, quickly voted in the police vehicle, without giving a clear answers to questions about the deadline requirement, additional costs, and the potential for further militarizing the police force. Speakers began shouting “shame” from the floor. Police “escorted” one out; others raised the cry; police then cleared the chambers and the Council met (illegally) behind locked doors and drawn shades.
At the request of activist Steven Argue and others, Micah Posner pulled item #13 “2015 Homeland Security Grant Funding – Budget Adjustment (PD/FD)” off the agenda for more extensive debate.
At some point I hope to give a more extensive account of the critical testimony as well as the police PR for the “rescue tank”. It took the police half an hour or more to come up with a picture of the machine–which activists had found on line hours before.
Deputy-Chief Clark claimed the agenda item was “time sensitive”, but declined to specify what the deadline was for applying for the grant. Councilmember Posner–who asked the question–considerately took him off the hook and immediately suggested that Clark’s assurance was enough for him. He moved that the $250 grand piece of heavy hardware be accepted with the caveat that it “not be used against peaceful protesters”, and that in future such items be placed on the regular agenda and given several weeks notice for the public. Posner’s scramble to please all sides while essentially rubberstamping the item was pathetically obvious.
His motion was voted down 5-2, and the item passed 6-1–prompting the cries of shame that led Robinson to order police to force the public to leave the meeting.
Outside, people continued to shout “shame”. When the Council resumed deliberations behind locked doors, it refused me and others access without explanation. No one was arrested or cited. Demands that he Council allow the public to reenter the chambers were ignored. The shutters were drawn. At several points police chief Kevin Vogel asked me if we could hear the proceedings through the speakers–which we couldn’t. That didn’t stop the Council from proceeding as though we weren’t there. Well in fact, we weren’t. We were all locked out.
One bright note was that any action on the infamous Stay Away Ordinance was postponed until the second Tuesday in January according to Micah Posner. A second was the apparent determination of many ejected from the meeting to hit the streets in protest in the days ahead–specifically Saturday when a day long event with marches, die-in’s, and other actions against police violence are planned. Additionally some felt empowered and for once not cowed by the police-backed authority of City Council.
Outside HUFF brownie baker “Push Back” Pat Colby served brownie, coffee, and vegan soup–compliments of Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz.
The evening session, I’m told proceeded with the usual congratulatory blather and a post-coronation chowdown in the Civic.
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I”ll be playing some audio and commenting on the afternoon’s events on Free Radio Santa Cruz Thursday evening 6=-8 PM at 101.3 FM and/or freakradio.org .