Return Engagement at Cop Corner

“Homeless People Matter” Protest Gets Honks, Volunteers, at Cop Corner
by Robert Norse
Monday Dec 22nd, 2014 12:57 PM

Following up on concerns about SCPD racial and homeless profiling (where groups are targeted or selectively ticketed) Cafe HUFF returned to Laurel and Center Streets right outside the police parking lot Wednesday afternoon (12-17). Numerous new and young faces joined the familiar HUFF regulars to hold up signs, give out flyers, offer brownies and coffee passersby, and gather signatures. Additional concerns of the protesters were the slippery process used to acquire the “Bearcat” armored personel “rescue” vehicle and SCPD’s withholding of when, where, and by whom it used tasers, batons, choke holds, and other such tactic. In the wake of Ferguson, our purpose was to focus on specific local concerns that seemed missing from larger protests.

The 2 1/2 hour vigil began under cloudy skies with a few of us, a small table, and a handful of signs. It ultimately grew to 15 people holding placards, giving interviews, rushing out to vehicles to provide literature, and sharing Cafe HUFF coffee and chips.

This was our third HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) protest at Cop Corner urging the community to compel police transparency and accountability. See “Race andClass Bias in the SCPD: What’s the Real Story?” at .

Two European musicians, several traveler guitarists, and singer Briana Brewer provided nearly continuous music. As the afternoon progressed, more and more cars honked approval or showed “thumbs up” to our cries of “Black People Matter!” “Homeless People Matter” “Don’t Shoot! and other chants that have become standard in protests stemming from the murder of Mike Brown and others by police departments across the country.

Several raggedy wayfarers took the opportunity to lay down their backpacks and go to sleep on the sidewalk in the shadow of the protest. Signs and literature urged an end to the perpetual police assault on homeless people through such laws as the City’s Sleeping Ban, the Mathews-Terazzas “Stay-Away” orders, and the pressure against the outdoor poor in the Pogonip, downtown, and in the parks.

Also at issue and more recently in the public eye was Homeland Security’s latest Xmas toy to our urban para-military–the BearCat armored personnel vehicle. More horrifically known as the Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, this acquisition and City Council’s police-fluffing procedures on December 9th prompted the first time a Mayor recessed a meeting under fire in nearly two decades. Brent Adams video and unanswered questions by activists sent to Mayor Lane are posted at .

Free Radio broadcaster and researcher John Malkin will be replaying his discussion of the issue with John Sandidge and Mayor Don Lane on Wednesday 12-24 at 7 PM on (101.3 FM).

“Keeping Up the Pressure: Wednesday Protest at Cop Corner” at describes some of the broader issues some HUFF activists are pressing for, in addition to blocking the armored personnel “rescue” vehicle.

In early July, I formally requested where, when, by whom, against whom, and why “use of force” was reported.

After a delay of several weeks to a previous Public Records Act demand, Drechsler declined to release any documents (as required by law) but did provide the following summary:

“Types of Force Number of Uses
Taser 39
Baton 4
Hands 6
Elbow 3
Knee 2
OC 1
[No information was provided regarding when officers drew or used their guns]”

After some back and forth and a delay of many months, the SCPD records worker Jacqui Drechsler released an uninformative summary of 5 police reports–none of them providing relevant information. We haven’t yet asked about injuries and hospitalizations. A follow-up request asking for the specific reasons for withholding the information has not yet been answered.

Democracy Now! reported today: “Protests against police brutality and racial profiling continued in New York City over the weekend, with actions including a sit-in at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Center Mall on Saturday and a silent march in Harlem on Sunday.

“More than 1,500 demonstrators shut down Minnesota’s Mall of America for several hours on Saturday afternoon calling for justice in the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. At least 25 people were arrested.

“One day earlier, dozens of protesters were arrested in Milwaukee after blocking traffic on a major highway for over an hour. The action centered on the case of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed mentally disabled black man shot dead during a confrontation with a police officer on April 30. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has called up the National Guard to be on standby.

It’s important that Santa Cruz police accountability activists intensify their local focus and extend solidarity to activists fighting similar issues across the country. Though mainstream media is now dripping with apologies, excuses, and sympathy for police and the officials who love them, the upsurge of outrage is continuing. Please post any upcoming actions, new research, or individual experiences—video is particularly helpful.


A Public Records Act request has secured Officer Azua’s citation and arrest record. Unfortunately (and curiously) racial stats were omitted.

Because the SCPD has not (so far) provided summaries of citations issued by race, it will be necessary to handcheck and handcount all citations issued by Azua. In the case of Officer Barnett it became clear that he gave out 7 times as many citations to black community members than would have been expected from their representation in the community. See “No Ferguson in Santa Cruz: Stop Local Racial and Class Profiling” at–homeless.pdf

Prior HUFF protests have not noticeably altered the SCPD’s support for Barnett, but have raised awareness. See”HUFF Releases Evidence of SCPD Profiling, Joins National Police Brutality Protests” at .


An earlier protest secured the release of Barnett’s citations for public viewing. See “Protesters Demand Faster Response from SCPD Regarding Records Requests” at .

That protest and research at the SCPD revealed the massive disparity of citations given by Officer Barnett to homeless people (“transient” or 115 Coral St. addresses) versus those given to others for such “crimes” as “smoking in a no smoking zone”, “trespass in a public parking lot”, “panhandling” & “sitting within 14′ of a building”. See “Report from Cop Corner” at .

Audio from the 12-17 protest will be played on Free Radio 12-25 6-8 PM (at 101.3 FM, and archived at .