Current List of Santa Cruz Police Officers

For Santa Cruzans and visitors who wish to identify police officers, here’s the most current list.  These cops are the individuals most directly involved with surveilling, harassing, citing, and arresting homeless people who’s only crime is sleeping or being present in a public place (such as a “closed” area).

Updated List of Santa Cruz Police Department Personnel
by SCPD (posted by Norse) ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Monday Jul 21st, 2014 12:18 PM

I received this updated list of SCPD personnel–buffed up considerably from the earlier posting (referenced below). For those involved in copwatching or using the police in any capacity, this is a list of badge numbers matched up with employees.

 

Badge ID List for SCPD

Since police are not held accountable by City Council, the City Manager, or the Police Chief, nor the “Police Auditor”, I encourage the community use its video and audio capabilities to record and post incidents to both encourage citizen pushback against police abuse as well as press authorities to respond to incidents such as the Officer Vasquez takedown of Richard Hardy (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/23/18735710.php ), and the “gun in your back” behavior of Officer Hernandez [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/29/18746999.php ].

A previous listing of police numbers from a year ago is at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/01/18745758.php .

Continue reading

Homeless Human Rights Violations–in Fresno and Santa Cruz as Winter Approaches

NOTE BY NORSE:  Santa Cruz’s downtown main drag, Pacific Avenue,  is now a curious scene of regular violation of the new Downtown Ordinances that exclude 95%+ of the sidewalks in business districts from sitting or setting up a table.  The laws impact anyone with a “display device”–expansively described as “anything capable of holding tangible things” (i.e. a cup for a panhandler, a table for a political petitioner, a guitar case seeking donations for a busqueer).  Almost every singer, sitter, performer, or vendor that I’ve seen is in technical violation of these ordinances since so much obviously innocent behavior is simply rebranded as “criminal”.   This fits in nicely with the right-wing claims of a homeless “crime wave” requiring public money and police attention–soon to be ceremoniously announced by Mayor Bryant’s new Citizens Task Force on Public Safety (http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=1924 ).

                               Obviously uninterested in going after every instance of sitcrime, strumcrime, or sparechanecrime, cops and their cheery parapolice pals the “Hospitality” Hosts walking the beat beside them pick and choose who to harass and “move along” or ticket.  The casual and regular use of selective enforcement has soaked its way deeply into political acceptability as to be clearly visible almost  any time of day along Pacific Avenue.
That’s not enough for some CSO’s (Community Service Officers) who reportedly loom over homeless folks thumbing through their ticket books announcing new unwritten crimes that require the sitter to be 50′ from a crosswalk or building.  Or suddenly a Host announces the homeless sparechanger is sitting in a “performance zone” (of which there are none) and must move on.  And seeing to get a permit to play music or display artwork in more than 12 square feet is generally not an option, except in a very few locations (See “Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/09/18746169.php  ).   Some homeless wiseheads are learning to justify either their peaceful panhandling or their simply sitting by making colorful signs and selling them as artwork;  this is similar to the brief rush of kazoo players a decade ago that hit the avenue when expanded forbidden-to-sit zones were created for homeless people but not those “performing”.
And mass ticketing of homeless people continues in San Lorenzo Park as recently as 11-10, according to one rudely awakened sleeper.
Property seizures are still a relatively ordinary occurrence with receipts haphazardly given, much property being taken to the city dump, and the police property room open only two days a week for two hours on those days.
Coming up next at City Council tomorrow afternoon–investigation into the feasibililty of cracking down on homeless recyclers by relocating recycling centers to more distant places or eliminating them entirely.  The City Attorney has already reluctantly told the bigotbackers on the Council that this conflicts with state law, but the “cut off all survival avenues” staff presses on.   Julie Hendee, a particularly nasty entrenched city staffer was recently heard scolding a church group for feeding people in public on the sidewalk, urging them to move indoors and out of sight.
  Food Not Bombs soupslinger Keith McHenry reports on crackdowns across the country against FNB food servers (http://anarchistcook.wordpress.com  ).
   Fresno, at least, is still the site of an ongoing lawsuit against earlier police violations (see http://www.necn.com/12/27/12/Fresno-homeless-lawsuit-survives-legal-c/landing_nation.html?&apID=d6771ce98a814833907a33ec0be52b35 and http://weap.org/humanrights/the-pursuit-of-justice/homeless-victory-in-fresno-has-implications-for-the-nation—by-mike-rhodes.htm).

Are Homeless People’s Human Rights being Violated in Fresno?
by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] fresnoalliance.com )
Monday Nov 11th, 2013 5:15 PM

Homeless people in downtown Fresno, like the two in the photo below, are being harassed by the Fresno police. They are being told they can’t sit on public sidewalks, their property is being taken, and some say their constitutional rights are being violated.

 

 

“They told me I could not sit on the sidewalk and that I could only stay if I sat on the curb with my feet in the gutter, or if I sat entirely in the gutter,” Lori (not her real name)* told me. “A friend of mine got a citation for sitting on the sidewalk, because her sleeping bag and other stuff was beside her.”Violet (not her real name)*, a homeless woman who lives near the Poverello House, confirmed that citations are being given by the police to people who have their property with them. “If you go into the Pov (the Poverello House – a homeless social service agency in downtown Fresno) to eat and you leave your stuff on the sidewalk the police will take it,” Violet said. If homeless people have property with them they are being cited for having “debris on the road” and if they leave it for a few minutes it is hauled away.

One woman told me she had been taken to the hospital and when she returned everything she owned was gone. She does not know if the police took it, but said that even if they did she could not re-claim it, because she is too sick to walk to the storage facility and carry it back. She begged me for a couple of dollars to buy some adult diapers, to replace the ones that had been taken.

Down the street, Ben (not his real name)* said that on Saturday he had received a sleeping bag and tent from a the Sleeping Bag Project. He put up the tent on Santa Clara street Saturday night. In the morning he got up to go to the bathroom, but when he returned it was gone. He is sure the police took it.

Violet said the same thing happened to her daughter a couple of days ago. “She was gone for a few minutes and when she returned, the tent was gone,” Violet claimed. “The police come every morning at dawn and kick our tent, yell our names, and tell us to get up and move on.” Violet says that the harassment is so bad that she and her friend have to take shifts watching their property. Sometimes she will go eat at the Poverello House and sometimes her friend can go. They can only go together if they hide their property somewhere that can’t be found by the police.

For more information about attacks on the homeless in Fresno, see:

Where Hope Goes to Die
Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/03/18745912.php

The Grain Silo/Canal Bank Homeless Encampment is Destroyed
Wednesday Oct 23rd, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/23/18745312.php

Grain Silo Homeless Encampment Posted for Demolition
Thursday Oct 10th, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/10/18744664.php

City of Fresno Finds New Ways to Harass the Homeless
Wednesday Oct 9th, 2013
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/09/18744608.php

***

Mike Rhodes is the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper. He can be reached by email at editor [at] fresnoalliance.com .

* Homeless peoples real names are not being used in this story out of concern of retaliation.

 

Fiddling With the Sidewalk Snatchers in Berkeley

NOTES BY NORSE:   Carol Denney has been puncturing pompous panjandrums up in Berkeley monthly for nearly two decades with her Pepper Spray Times (which comes out monthly in the Berkeley Daily Planet on-line) as well as her work with the satirical Jolly Roger Comedy Troupe, which I occasionally play on the stream of Free Radio Santa Cruz ( (http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/ down here.
Unlike Santa Cruz, Berkeley activists mounted a successful campaign against a Sitting Ban last year.  The last significant successes Santa Cruz has had were to overturn the original 1994 total sidewalk Sitting Ban, passed in the spring of that year by the Rotkin-Kennedy Council.  It resulted in a nearly-unprecedented local court victory when Judges Salazar and Barton both ruled the ordinance unconstitutional.    This was prompted by scores of arrests when hundreds of people flooded downtown to protest by sitting down at eating food with Food Not Bombs at Cathcart and Pacific.
Undeterred, the Council quickly passed a more limited Sitting Ban (6′ from buildings).
Essentially rubbberstamping and ratifying illegal police behavior that selectively enforced and arbitrarily expanded the Ban, the Council gradually expanding it in 2002 (14′ from buildings) to include all manner of other objects that created “No Sitting” zones  (buildings, street corners, intersections, kiosks, drinking fountains, public telephones, public benches, public trash compactors, information/directory signs, sculptures or artwork, ATM-style machines, outside street cafes, vending carts, and fences).
This reduced real Sitting space to less than 5% of the Pacific Avenue sidewalk and constitutes a total ban in other business districts where there are buildings adjoining with a sidewalk less than 10′ wide.
In a successful attempt to split street performers from the homeless people and peaceful panhandlers that were true targets of these laws, the Council agreed to limit “forbidden zones” to 10′ distances from all those objects.
At 3 PM on Tuesday September 24th, City Council (809 Center St.) will broaden its attack to include street performers, street artists, political tablers, & street vendors by expanding the forbidden zones to 14′ and  requiring an additional 12′ distance between all of these.   In addition all “non-free standing” display devices such as blankets and tarps will be banned as an aesthetically unappealing “trip and fall” hazard  (and far too easy to use)
This second reading of the Ordinance if passed will make it law on October 24th.
Perhaps Carol Denney will come down to Santa Cruz to do a little fiddling here.
More info at:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/09/12/18743122.php?show_comments=1#18743584 .

Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle: A Crime? The PRC Hearing

Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle

Carol Denney
Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle

Berkeley’s last election had a contest between anti-sitting law proponents and those who opposed making simply sitting down a crime. “Measure S”, the anti-sitting law, was defeated at the ballot. It was considered a civil rights victory. But who really won?

It was the most expensive campaign in Berkeley history. It was funded by well-heeled real estate interests and supported by merchant associations, most of the Berkeley City Council, and the Chamber of Commerce. Criminalizing the simple act of sitting down was described by otherwise intelligent people as a humane response to human need, since living on the streets was so hard.

So can you sit on the street and watch a cloud go by? The results are still not in.

I worked on the campaign opposing the anti-sitting law. A large part of our work was simply educational. Misleading pro-anti-sitting law materials in expensive, shiny colors were everywhere. But once people found out the extremity of the anti-sitting law, they generally opposed it. Most people realized that the law would most probably be used against some people but not others; it’s hard to ignore the Cheeseboard pizza eaters sitting undisturbed by the “Don’t Sit on the Median” signs on Shattuck in North Berkeley.

Two days before the election on Sunday, November 4, 2012, I put poetry opposed to the anti-sitting law from poets all over the Bay Area up on the fence near the corner of Haste and Telegraph and sat down with some musicians to play. We were trying to illustrate that simply sitting on a chair playing music, perfectly legal behavior under the law, would become a crime in two days if Measure S were to pass.
I got a ticket.

Artists were inside the fence perimeter touching up the mural facing Haste Street. People trickled by, enjoying a sunny day. We sat close to the fence, so there was seven feet of unobstructed nine-foot wide sidewalk in front of each of us, more than enough space for two wheelchairs to pass without issue. Our instrument cases were beside or under us, out of the way.

A few people stopped and asked about the “This Is Legal” sign and its significance, but our demonstration was pretty unobtrusive until Berkeley Police Officer Heather Cole rode up on her bicycle. She accused us of obstructing an empty sidewalk, and since I had carefully researched both the ordinance and the best place on Telegraph to make sure to cause no hardship for merchants or passersby, I found it pretty funny.

This wasn’t civil disobedience. This was carefully planned obedience to illustrate the absurd overreach of the proposed anti-sitting proposal. I had checked the law, checked with attorneys, planned every aspect of the demonstration so that no one and no one’s instruments would be jeopardized.
Officer Cole continued to threaten us, arguing that we were in the way despite there being no complaining party. The muralists were amazed. News that someone was getting a ticket for sitting on a chair playing the fiddle traveled fast up and down Telegraph. A reporter snapped pictures for the local paper. A Channel Two news crew began filming.

Officer Cole kept insisting that other people had no right to be on the sidewalk, either. She moved a nearby plein air painter to the curbside and hassled a guy about twenty feet away collecting signatures.

I had heard about this police harassment from friends on the street and people who worked at the Homeless Action Center and the East Bay Community Law Center, but it never occurred to me that an obviously political demonstration would be targeted, especially with Channel Two News cameras running.

We kept playing. Officer Heather Cole kept shouting “I’ll take you to jail if you don’t stop playing,” while we played Soldier’s Joy, a moment which made the news that night. But it was turning into a strange scene. People were shouting at the cops. Two attorneys showed up who tried to explain to Officer Cole that she was misapplying the law. Officer Cole’s supervisor showed up and argued with them. I finally said, fine; give me a ticket, hoping to get back to playing.

But our effort to illustrate legal behavior was in ruins. I still don’t know what Officer Cole’s problem was that day. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley dropped the case against me after a couple of court dates.

I filed a complaint with the Police Review Commission which was not sustained. Can you sit on the sidewalk? The law is pretty clear about it, but no one else seems to be. A couple of the police review commissioners asked questions which implied that someone could be accused of obstructing the space one occupies with one’s body, a patent absurdity which, if true, would put us all in jail.

You can’t accidentally block a sidewalk under Berkeley’s law as written and clarified by former Police Chief Meisner’s memos. People can’t be accused of blocking a sidewalk for just being there, or for having a backpack or other personal items beside them, the law makes clear. But the police either don’t realize that or realize it and don’t care what the law actually says or what it was intended to do. The Police Review Commission, the Police Department, the City Council all look the other way as people continue to get these absurd tickets which at some point, if unaddressed, turn into jail time and court costs for which the public picks up the bill.

My ticket cost me at least three days of work, about ten cumulative hours of police officers’ time both in and out of court, court time for several pre-trial dates, and baffled a boatload of reporters, students, and Channel Two News watchers who are probably as confused as I am about why Berkeley would conduct the most expensive campaign in its history against sitting down if it is already against the law.

Is sitting down against the law? Maybe it depends on who you are. The Cheeseboard pizza eaters obviously get a pass. Maybe it depends on whether or not you are demonstrating against something like Measure S, a kind of content-based provision. Or maybe Officer Heather Cole hates traditional old-time music, a kind of fiddle-based objection.

It’s an Alice in Wonderland world up there on Telegraph. The hookah smoking caterpillar can’t figure it out, and neither can I. The muralists painted me into the mural after that day, for which, I suppose, I should thank Officer Heather Cole.

Open Season on Whistleblowers–in NYC and Santa Cruz

NOTES BY NORSE:   The right-wing City Council “Public Safety” Committee  and the Parks & Recreation Commission forwarded to the Santa Cruz City Council a bill that created a new crime:
“Any person who by his or her conduct, or by threatening, or abusive, Continue reading

Homelessness Up For Discussion or Diversion? 7-9 PM Tonight–Monica Martinez & Don Lane

NOTE FROM NORSE:   Tonight Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom hosts a talk at the Quaker Meeting House, 225 Rooney St., east of Morrissey Blvd., in Santa Cruz (next to the freeway) 7-9 PM.Speaking are former Mayor and Board President of the Homeless Services Center (which some of us call the Homeless Lack of Services Center) Don Lane and Monica Martinez, its Executive Director.Their topic is “the current state of homelessness in Santa Cruz and calling for action in support of the 180/180 Initiative which provides permanent supportive housing for the most at-risk and vulnerable of our homeless citizens.”The 180/180 program seeks to raise government and private funds to house a fraction of the most costly homeless folks (i.e. those who scare the merchants most) with  no provision for the rest of the community and no let-up in the criminalization of the other 95%.  It seems to be a successor program to the Housing First! program and the Continuum of Care (“End Homelessness in Ten Years” shuck and jive) that got federal funding for the last decade and a half.

It’s not that providing housing and supportive services for 180 people in Santa Cruz county is a bad idea.  Obviously it’s not.  But focusing all attention and energy on a fanciful grant-magnet 180/180 program is done at the expense of immediate shelter and human rights needs.  It seems largely a self-justifying project for bureaucrats.  Meanwhile the same leaders (Lane and Martinez) counsel colluding with police and courts in their campaign to drive away and criminalize a whole class of people.  Focusing exclusively on 180/180 diverts the public’s attention from the recent smear campaign of anti-homeless warriors on the right led by Councilmembers Comstock and Robinson.  The massive “needles = homeless = illegal camps = crime” rage given unjustified credibility were recently echoed by the Mayor of the City (See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/ci_22606878/hilary-bryant-public-safety-is-our-top-priority ).

Unfortunately Santa Cruz has several thousand homeless people (Santa Cruz County even more)–currently under rabid attack by vigilantes, police, sheriffs, rangers, security guards, city council, hired clean-up crews as well as courts and D.A.’s.   It is illegal to sleep in Santa Cruz after 11 PM at night, illegal to set up a survival camp site at any time.  The City Council (with Lane voting in favor and Martinez silent) has made “unattended” camping tickets into misdemeanors punishable by a year in jail and $1000 fine.

A prior “Homelessness Summit” on December 1st out at Cabrillo College, masterminded by the backers of the 180/180 program completely sidelined the real issue of the need for immediate shelter, campsites, legal support now and has resulted in no further action.

These “feel good” psuedo-positive initiatives sacrifice human dignity and human lives for what some politicians seem to consider the “politically possible”.  Fresno and D.C. are apparently experiencing similar problems as the stories below seem to indicate.

Fresno Activist Mike Rhodes writes:
This is from a Washington Post article published last Friday.  It is painfully obvious that the local government (both the city and county of Fresno) has had many of the same problems.  But, that does not stop them from continuing to push one program after another, even though they are doomed to fail. 
The current plan to build housing (The Renaissance project) houses a small percent (perhaps 5%) of the homeless population, with the vast majority of people left to fend completely for themselves. 
The city and county won’t even provide them with drinking water, portable toilets, or trash pick up.  I believe the reason they (city and county officials) do this is to give people (in the broader community) the illusion that they have a plan to end homelessness, but the bureaucrats in their cynical hearts, know what they are doing is not going to work.  Unfortunately, people who are not paying close attention have the hope that something is being done to solve the problem, when in fact they are being mislead.  In the meantime, the vast majority of homeless people are the ones who suffer, while the bureaucrats collect their fat salaries.
Why does D.C. still have so many homeless?By Colbert I. King, Published: February 15

More than 900 people, including 600 children, crammed into a makeshift D.C. homeless shelter? Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way. By now, we were told, homelessness in our nation’s capital would be a thing of the past. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
In 1993, the Clinton administration persuaded Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly to enter into a partnership, called the D.C. Initiative, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The idea, hatched under HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and Assistant Secretary Andrew Cuomo, was to make the District a national model for local governments on ending homelessness.
To get the city’s buy-in, HUD dangled a $20 million grant and other federal bucks, provided that the District kicked in some of its own funds for homeless services.
After weeks of meetings stretched into months, the cash-strapped District signed an agreement in 1994 transferring the city’s responsibility to an entity known as the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness.
In 1994, according to city estimates, approximately 3,400 single adults used the District’s shelter system. They represented about 60 percent of the people in the system.
It was thought that 1,200 to 1,500 of those 3,400 lived on city streets and used the shelters or public space intermittently or interchangeably.
About a fifth of shelter residents were families who turned to the system repeatedly because of their precarious and unstable situations.
Some had drug addictions or major health problems; some were victims of domestic violence.
The D.C. Initiative’s solution? Transition from a shelter-based system to a “continuum of care” approach that entailed creating a community network of agencies and programs to tackle not only housing needs but also the root causes of homelessness.
Over time, The Post ran a series of cautious editorials about the feds’ push for the initiative.
The District had been used before as a federal test case — with city officials often left holding the short end of the stick.
Vincent C. Gray, the director of the D.C. Department of Human Services under Mayor Kelly, testified before the House subcommittee on housing and community development on Oct. 26, 1993, as to the D.C. Initiative’s goal.
Yes, Gray has been at this for a long time.
He promised Congress that with HUD money the District would try “to create real, permanent, enduring solutions for families and singles who are homeless . . . and make a contribution to . . . the Nation in how to resolve, once and for all, the problem of homelessness in this Nation.” That was nearly 20 years ago.
The Post tracked the D.C. Initiative through the departure of Cisneros and Cuomo from the Clinton administration, and through Pratt’s leave-taking from the District government.
By 2000, the D.C. Initiative was over and done. But the homeless were still here.
In June 2004, Mayor Anthony A. Williams presented with fanfare: “Homeless No More: A Strategy for Ending Homelessness in Washington, D.C. by 2014.” He billed it as a “client centered” approach focused on bringing to the table all the key service providers to create a system that prevents and ends, rather than maintains, the problem of homelessness.
Williams left office. The homeless remained.
In April 2008 Mayor Adrian M. Fenty introduced the “Housing First” fund. “What we are proposing is a new approach to serving our chronically homeless neighbors,” Fenty said. “The systems of the past have not brought us closer to ending this humanitarian crisis.”
Fenty proposed moving chronically homeless people from the streets and shelters to housing where they could be provided comprehensive services to solve the problems that contributed to their homelessness.
Sound familiar?
Fast-forward to 2013.
Today, millions of dollars later and after years upon years of government, nonprofit and private-sector efforts, homeless families are still in the defunct D.C. General hospital shelter, in motels or on the streets.
Is it a question of funding or underfunding, management or mismanagement, commitment or lack of concern? Does part of the problem also rest with those without roofs over their heads? Is the answer some or all of the above?
The Post’s Annie Gowen reported this week that Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), chairman of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Human Services, said he would conduct hearings on conditions at the hospital shelter. That’s too limited a focus.
There is no better time to take a sober look at the persistent problem of homelessness in our nation’s capital, its causes, what has worked and failed, and what can realistically be done to get people beyond their plight to greater independence.
That may be a better D.C. initiative.

Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs Returning to Post Office In Spite of Past Police Surveillance & Threats

With possibly rainy weather this Saturday and to because those who eat its meals have come to expect it at the Main Post Office, Food Not Bombs is reportedly planning to return to serve its 4 PM meal under the eaves of the Main Post Office (but out of the way of the entrance).

Police have appeared several times as well as a postal employee unhappy with their presence there.   Though I’m in no way a spokesperson for the local Food Not Bombs, I believe the information in the posting below is correct and urge people to show up there to offer support whether as servers, future food preparers, food donators, reporters, witnesses, or just plain sympathizers.

Speaking for myself, it’s important that people feel entitled to use the public space in ways that benefit the community.  This includes those putting out a political message against the criminalization of poverty and the militarization of the country (Bombs Not Food).  In the past earlier incarnations of Food Not Bombs in Santa Cruz have doggedly stood for those principles, and it’s my understanding that the current group shares these sympathies.

Coming to this feeding in no way commits one to any kind of civil disobedience or confrontation with authorities.   Nor does it exclude  that possibility.  But the more people who  are willing to cook, feed, witness, and eat, the less likely authorities are to try to repress this movement.

Robert Norse

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/24/18730745.php

Title: Food Not Bombs To Serve at the Post Office This Saturday
START DATE: Saturday January 26
TIME: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Location Details:
On the steps of the Main Post Office in downtown Santa Cruz where Pacific, Front, Mission, etc. intersect.
Event Type: Other
Food Not Bombs serves weekly every Saturday with what I understand is both a political message and a damn good meal.

In recent weeks police have arrived with the apparent intention of pressing the group to move.

Food Not Bombs met last night and will be serving there again this week.

I am not a spokesperson for Food Not Bombs, but an interested member of the community.

Those interested in joining Food not Bombs, helping to cook or serve should check their Facebook webpage: Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs.

Food Not Bombs encourages supporters to come to their meals.

I think it’s particularly important at this crucial juncture. It would likely be helpful also to bring cameras, video and audio recorders, and friends.

Food Not Bombs needs folks to cook and serve as well as publicize the meal.

To read more about the recent behavior of the police and postmaster around the weekly Food Not Bombs meal go to
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/19/18730563.php .

Police and Postal Bureaucrats Crack Down on Food Not Bombs in Santa Cruz

Today at the Meal

by Robert Norse  Sunday Jan 27th, 2013 12:00 AM

POLICE AND POSTAL OFFICIALS DEMAND FNB MOVE OFF “POST OFFICE” PROPERTY
Briefly, two SCPD officers and two postal officials approached the group and demanded they move off the post office property, while proclaiming “concern and appreciation” for the feeding of homeless people. After initially trying to continue feeding at the original location under the eaves of the post office, the FNB workers picked up their tables and moved to the sidewalk.

I recorded some of the interaction between officials and FNB workers. I’ll be playing that tape tomorrow on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 10 AM ( http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/ or 101.3 FM). The show will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130127.mp3–about 2 1/2 hours into the audio. Call-in at 427-3772.

At the request of FNB workers, Steve Pleich took a leading role in facilitating the withdrawal of FNB from the post office steps to the sidewalk where it continued to feed without further molestation. Officials rejected my request to know the full name of the individual demanding we move and of his superior’s name. Police sergeant D. Forbas kept trying to shield his conversation with Pleich from the listening ears of my recorder and refused to answer questions which I put to him afterwards.

VICTORY,SETBACK,OR BOTH?
Some considered the day’s actions a success–with the meal continuing to be fed, folks continuing to sit on the steps of the post office and eat. Others wondered if this were the first step in a campaign to drive FNB from visible feeding in the downtown. The Food Not Bombs banner was visible, but I didn’t notice any literature present–the group willing for the moment to give up the right to serve and distribute literature in the unused area they had been at for the previous six weeks under threat of trespass arrest.

While the postal inspector insisted that the group was “violating federal regulations”, he declined to say which regulations except for vague claims that FNB was “conducting business”. The claim that FNB was violating the state trespass code seemed a strange one since the area is open to the general public.

THE ISSUES INVOLVED
Food Not Bombs groups in other cities has insisted that it is not simply a charitable organization serving food, but one presenting a clear message (with literature and banners). Such was an earlier FNB message in Santa Cruz in the late 80′s and mid-90′s when Santa Cruz FNB fed in different spots.

FNB workers and some supporters noted that FNB had only moved 20-30 feet, that it was not being told to disperse, that it would continue to “make poverty visible” and feed poor and homeless people, and address further hostile police actions if they arose as they arose.

Similar threats used against Occupy Santa Cruz [OSC] when it was in front of the courthouse in the fall of 2011 resulted in some citations and arrests, but no charges ultimately in court under the trespass code used to intimidate FNB workers today.

Unlike FNB activists decades before OSC activists did not return to reclaim the space in front of the courthouse once threatened with arrest. However, unlike the earlier attack on FNB in Santa Cruz and San Francisco which demanded the groups cease serving food altogether because they “didn’t have a permit”, the current attack so far is only limited to the post office grounds and supposedly has to do with location rather than food serving itself.

For some of the events in the history of the FNB movement, go to http://foodnotbombs.net/fnb_time_line.html .

FOOD SERVER HARASSMENT ELSEWHERE
However, a church group feeding in front of Forever Twenty-One on Thursday afternoon was reportedly the target of SCPD police action against clients sitting within 14′ of buildings.

Ronee and Scott Curry, who regularly conduct Sunday lunch on Pacific Avenue at Soquel and Pacific have experienced some harassment either directly under the “move every hour” ordinance or of their clients hassled for “sitting down”.

Father Joel Miller of the Calvary Episcopal Church experienced a strong attack from former Mayor (and recently reelected City Council member) Cynthia Mathews for his once-a-week Monday dinner at the Red Church, across from Matthew’s historic property (located between the Nickelodeon and Jack’s Hamburgers).

Pastor Dennis Adams was driven away from the downtown by merchant and police hostility several years ago, now doing his meal out at the Homeless (Lack of ) Services Center.

UPCOMING AND INAUSPICIOUS
On Tuesday the Santa Cruz City Council’s Public Safety Committee will be meeting 6 PM in City Council chambers to consider a further crackdown on homeless people among other “safety measures”. Agenda: http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?recordid=4709&page=440 . Staff report: http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=30533 .

DISCLAIMER
The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent those of Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs as an organization, nor necessarily the views of any of the individuals associated with it.

by Robert Norse

Sunday Jan 27th, 2013 12:03 AM

The FNB meal began around 4 PM Saturday January 26th and was immediately approached by police. Workers moved the meal to the sidewalk within 20 minutes after police and postal officials began their threats. It continued for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the sidewalk.

FNB is looking for volunteers and can be reached via its Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs facebook page.

Charges reinstated for two defendants in takeover of former bank building

By Jessica M. Pasko – Santa Cruz Sentinel
05/25/2012

 

Santa Cruz police officers inspect the back doorway of the vacant… (Kevin Johnson/Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ – Charges have been refiled against two of the defendants accused in the takeover of a vacant bank building last year.

After a preliminary hearing in April, Judge Paul Burdick dismissed the charges against Franklin Cruz Alcantara, Cameron Laurendeau, Grant Wilson and Edward Rector, citing a lack of evidence. At the time, prosecutor Rebekah Young announced her intentions to re-file against Alcantara and Laurendeau. She said she had more evidence that hadn’t come out in their first preliminary hearing.

The new charges are the same as the previous ones, two misdemeanor counts of trespassing, felony vandalism and felony conspiracy to commit vandalism and trespass, Young said.

The two were scheduled to appear in court Friday morning for arraignment on the new charges, though their supporters maintain the two defendants hadn’t been informed of the appearance. Young told the court she had mailed a notice to appear to both of them.

Cruz rushed into court late and entered a plea of not guilty, but a bench warrant will now be sought for Laurendeau, who lives in Oakland and did not show up Friday.

A preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday for five of the other defendants in the case was vacated because defense attorneys say the prosecution hasn’t turned over all the evidence to them. Defendants Becky Johnson, Robert Norse, Brent Adams, Gabriella Ripleyphipps and Desiree Foster are due back June 1 to set a new date for the hearing.

Judge Burdick also dismissed charges against Bradley Allen and Alex Darocy earlier this month. Their attorneys said the two were photojournalists who had been photographing the action as a news event.

A total of 11 people were arrested in connection with the takeover of the former Wells Fargo building at 75 River St. in late November and early December. Acting “anonymously and autonomously in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz,” an undetermined number of demonstrators entered the building with the announced intention of turning it into a community center. Demonstrators continued to occupy the building for almost three days amid numerous negotiations with police before eventually leaving peacefully.

A number of protests and demonstrations have been held in support of those charged, asking the District Attorney’s Office to drop all charges, and a website called www.santacruzeleven.org has been set up.

The Long Foreclosure Fight

Good Times, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 – Patrick Dwire

news1County supervisors urge banks to suspend foreclosures

The state legislature is broken. Not only is it broken, but it has also prevented local governments from doing what can’t seem to get done in Sacramento—such as providing homeowners with legal protection from banks conducting fraudulent foreclosures. That was the consensus of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors at their May 15 meeting, when they adopted a resolution “urging” (but not requiring) local banks to suspend foreclosures until beefed-up, borrower protection laws are passed by the state legislature. The laws are known collectively as the “California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.”

 

The county’s resolution, which is almost identical to a resolution adopted by the City and County of San Francisco last month, falls far short of what many housing activists believe is necessary. They would prefer to see the county mandating an outright moratorium on foreclosures until a program of independent legal review and certification of legality is established.

County Counsel Dana McCrea advised the Board of Supervisors that authority to mandate such a moratorium or require more stringent legal review in the foreclosure process is “almost entirely” preempted by current state law, and the county would almost certainly be sued, probably successfully, if it were to adopt such measures.

“This speaks directly to why people have so little faith in government,” Supervisor John Leopold said at the May 15 board meeting, explaining his frustration with the “lack of legal space” at the county level to seriously challenge banks on potentially fraudulent foreclosure practices.

“Not only is the banking lobby making the likelihood of passing the California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights very, very low in Sacramento—it comes as no surprise to me that these same moneyed interests have had their way preempting local government from initiating their own, more stringent local protections,” Leopold said.

Apart from the fact there are between 100 and 150 foreclosure filings per month in Santa Cruz County, there are two other developments that have enraged local activists and inspired the pressure they have brought to bear on local politicians for more protection against fraudulent foreclosures. The first is a forensic audit of 382 foreclosures conducted by the City and County of San Francisco Assessor-Recorder that found 82 percent of the foreclosure cases studied were legally defective, with at least one clear violation of law, and a majority had substantial evidence of fraud, including back-dated, “robo-signed” or fabricated documents, as well as false claims of beneficiary status.

 

news1-2Since the March to Stop Foreclosures (above), which was led by Occupy Santa Cruz’s Foreclosure Working Group in March, the number of local groups and organizations joining in the effort to end the foreclosure crisis continues to grow.

The second development is the drastic reduction in foreclosures in Nevada that are a direct result of a new state law requiring a notarized affidavit of authority, signed by a bank official, as a requirement of filing a foreclosure, along with clear documentation of the bank’s legal right to foreclose. The law includes severe criminal penalties for any fraud. This state law reduced foreclosure filings in Nevada, formally the nation’s leader in foreclosures, by 76 percent since the law took effect last October, according to Foreclosure Radar, a foreclosure data research firm.

“In light of the City of San Francisco’s Assessor’s report,” Supervisor Ellen Pirie said, “I’m incredibly frustrated and angry… I’m shocked that our legal system, which allows banks to foreclose without judicial review but seems to allow these fraudulent activities without any real supervision, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I don’t understand why our state legislators are not as angry as we are, and [aren’t] more willing to do something about it.”

The supervisors aren’t the only ones angry about the recent, stepped-up lobbying against the California Homeowners Bill of Rights by the banking industry in Sacramento. So is Gina Green, a spokesperson for the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a nonprofit advocacy organization that has been a leader in the fight against predatory lending to low-income communities. After more than three years of hard work advocating for borrower protections in the mortgage industry—protections now included in the California Homeowners Bill of Rights—Green said the frustration is high at CRL because this legislation is getting blocked by a few, key members in the state assembly and senate, both Democrat and Republican, who she says have apparently come under the influence of the banking lobby.

Green says CRL is “ready to take the gloves off, and start naming names of those members in the state legislature who are blocking the California Homeowners Bill of Rights legislation.” She goes on to say that this legislation is desperately needed, as shown by the extent of fraudulent practices brought to light in the nationwide law suit brought by 49 State Attorney Generals against five major banks last year, in which banks finally settled for $24 million in damages in February. But the banking industry continues to have a “near lock of influence in the California State legislature,” Green says.

Growing Grass Roots

Jeri Bodemar, a self-described “old activist” and member of the Santa Cruz Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), says the foreclosure crises just “grabbed her.” As a result, she started doing outreach and organizing and began talking to Joy Hinz, a lead activist and organizer of the local Occupy Foreclosure Working Group.

Hinz, along with several members of the working group that originally spun off from Occupy Santa Cruz, have been attending County Board of Supervisor meetings regularly for the last several months, and encouraging the supervisors during Oral Communications to take action to protect families from foreclosure.

Meanwhile, Bodemar was impressed by a KPFA radio show featuring C.J. Holmes, the founder of Home Owners For Justice, a nonprofit organization waging a statewide information and organizing campaign to stop foreclosures. Bodemar and Hinz invited Holmes, who is also a long time Sonoma County real estate broker, to Santa Cruz, and co-sponsored a recent training workshop and public information event about fraudulent foreclosures practices.

In addition to a training workshop for “citizen fraud investigators,” in which about 10 people were given an overview of what expert foreclosure fraud investigators look for, Holmes gave a three hour presentation to about 50 people at the Quaker Meeting House the evening of May 15, the same day the county supervisors adopted the foreclosure ordinance.

Holmes provided an in-depth analysis of how much the mortgage lending industry has changed over the course of her 25-year career in real estate brokerage, and showed that most of this change, made obvious by the combined Wall Street financial crises and collapse of the real estate market, has been for the worst. Holmes provided a fast but deeply researched summary of how the relatively safe, stodgy, local mortgage lending industry of 30 years ago was transformed into a Wall Street investor-driven casino of mortgage-backed securities, with players from all over the world.

One of the bottom lines, according to Holmes, is that the lack of accountability of banks in the foreclosure process is directly liked to the lack of accountability in the securitization of mortgage-baked securities sold on Wall Street, which was made technically possible by the industry created “MERS” recording system. Because the market crashed so hard and so fast, according to Holmes, banks had to resort to “extra-legal” techniques like robo-signing and forging documents to keep up with foreclosures once the “house of cards” began to collapse.

A key problem that Holmes said should be a “take away” from her talk was that the system continues to collapse, with a huge inventory of unsold, bank-owned homes, and that the idea that housing market will eventually stabilize under these conditions is misguided.

“It’s time for us to get out of the box that banks have put us in,” Hinz said after the presentation. “The banks have been setting us up for years, and gaming the system every step of the way. People are beginning to wake up and realize what’s been done to them, and realizing they can’t win playing by the banks rules.”

The Times They Are A’Changing

Spike Murphy; UCSC Student Guide Mar 29 (Spring), 2012

UCSC activism through the years

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!” – Mario Savio, political activist & key member of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Dec. 3, 1964

If anything captures the spirit and sentiment of the decades of activism at UCSC, it’s the above quote. For more than 40 years, members of the UCSC community, students, staff and faculty, have fought to make their University and Santa Cruz itself more equal and egalitarian, to forge a community that puts people above profits and encourages anything and everything that’s “outside-the-box. “ Let’s hop in the way-back machine and look at how UCSC was first transformed into a melting pot of ideas and cultures.

Like all good activism stories, it starts in the ‘60s. A few years after UCSC opened its doors in 1965, then-governor Ronald Reagan came for the Regents meeting. He was greeted by three days of protest with students and citizens from around the county in an uproar about, well, everything Reagan was doing. At the front of this movement was the Santa Cruz Black Liberation Front, demanding that College VII be named after El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcom X) and that the College be a black college, not just in curriculum and focus, but in the makeup of everybody living, learning and working there.

Enter Herman Blake, at the time the sole black faculty member at UCSC and someone with a personal relationship with El-Shabazz. He pointed out that all kinds of people were being oppressed in California and convinced the SCBLF to endorse a plan to make College VII an Ethnic Studies college.

The first gay male teacher in the history of the nation came out at UCSC, as well as the first gay woman professor to come out.

The remainder of the sixties was relatively quiet, aside from a graduation ceremony being interrupted to give an honorary diploma to the imprisoned Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton; a little more than a decade later he would come to UCSC to get his PhD. The Academic Senate would also approve the Ethnic Studies program (though not the re-naming of College VII).

Then come the ‘70s and shit gets real. The U.S. invades Cambodia, and students across the country drop everything and rally against the national war machine. This is the beginning of an anti-war movement at UCSC that continues to this day. Highway 1 and 17 are shut down multiple times throughout the ‘70s by student protestors. After Nixon resumes bombing in Vietnam, thousands march on the county building and demand the Board of Supervisors sign a resolution disapproving of the war – which they do. We also see the first protests against the UC’s weapons labs at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos; these would continue for decades, with the protestors sometimes numbering as high as 10,000 people.

This is also the decade when UCSC entered the gay rights and women’s rights fight, and during the ‘70s, an explosion of gay rights groups and clubs start on campus. The first gay male teacher in the history of the nation came out at UCSC, Sociology professor Alan Sable, as well as the first gay woman professor to come out, Nancy Shaw; The Women’s Studies major is fought for and added to the curriculum, and the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Collective is formed on campus (this eventually becomes the Women’s Health Center downtown). In 1971, thanks to the thriving L

GBT movement at UCSC and the lowering of the voting age to 18 from 21, there’s a dramatic change in the political makeup of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has its first Pride Parade, and it becomes the first county to prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. When the anti-LGBT Briggs initiative is voted down in ’78, Santa Cruz has the highest percentage of “no” votes in the state. Sadly, only weeks later, San Francisco Supervisor and Gay Rights Superhero Harvey Milk is assassinated; 40,000 people, including many members of UCSC’s LGBT community, hold a vigil for him outside of San Francisco City Hall. When his murderer is let off with ‘voluntary manslaughter’ saying he ate too many Twinkies the night before (I wish I were kidding about that, I really do), UCSC students and even a professor join hundreds in SF in what will become known as the White Night Riots.

In 1976, the Third World and Native American Coalition forms, to unite students from various minority communities and advocate for their educational rights (TWANAC is now known as the Ethnic Student Organization Council). A year later, more than 1,000 students, organized by TWANAC and CAIR (Coalition Against Institutionalized Racism), occupy the central services (Hahn) building and demand that UC divest from South Africa, reject the Bakke decision outlawing Affirmative Action, support the Third World Teaching Resource Center and undo an increased SAT score requirement for admittance. The administration’s response was to acquiesce to their demands. Ha! Just kidding! Four hundred protesting students were arrested.

In 1980, UCSC fired Ed Castillo, the only instructor teaching Native American studies. Nearly 600 people from TWANAS and other groups marched on the Chancellor’s office and made five demands to be met in five days. When the administration issued an unsatisfactory response, 25 students from TWANAS volunteered to go on a hunger strike until their demands – aimed at creating and maintaining Native American and Third World studies at UCSC – were met. After five days, the university agreed to the students’ demands in writing. (Unfortunately, according to TWANAS, the administration failed to make good on what they’d agreed to.)

Meanwhile, gay rights and women’s rights would continue to advance steadily throughout the ‘80s. The county and the UC would continue to grant more rights for same-sex couples, and Santa Cruz would elect the first gay mayor in the country, UCSC Alum and eventual Santa Cruz AIDS Project founder John Laird. The number of LGBT groups on campus and in the city would continue to grow. The LGBT movement capped off the decade with the grand opening of the GLBN Community Resource Center in the Merrill recreation room.

The first Take Back the Night! March started at UCSC in response to a string of murders of female students by multiple serial killers, and the first Women’s Studies tenure track position was created at UCSC, as well as a feminist Studies grad program. Later that same year, women’s rights activists from the campus and all over the country staged major protests at the Miss California pageant that had been held in Santa Cruz since the 1920s. Former Sports Illustrated model Ann Simonton famously wore a dress made of meat while protesting the pageant, and the entire protest was documented in the film Miss . . . or Myth? The Miss California pageant would never return to Santa Cruz, moving to San Diego the next year.

During this whole time, the anti-nuke efforts at UCSC had been growing exponentially. Groups staged demonstrations on campus, rallied support and staged larger and larger protests at the UC weapon labs. In 1983, the UCSC Academic Senate voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with the UC’s nuclear weapons labs. At one point, 6,000 protestors encircled the Lawrence Livermore lab completely while holding hands, prompting the Department of Energy to buy a new 196-acre “buffer zone” around the property.

The ‘90s were a milder decade by comparison, with Highway 1 only being shut down once in protest of Desert Storm. After more than 25 years of students demanding it, Women’s Studies finally became a Department.

In 1990, the Coalition on Democratic Education took over McHenry Library and by doing so managed to get ethnic studies courses listed in the Schedule of Classes and the creation of a Dean of African-American Student Life position. Starting in the mid-‘90s, the Affirmative Action Coalition would work to keep Prop 209, which would end Affirmative Action in the UC system, from passing on the ballot, even at one point shutting down the campus with protestors for seven hours. Although their efforts would not defeat the proposition, they won an agreement from the Chancellor (after surrounding the Hahn building with protestors) for a seven-point plan to preserve the campus’ diversity in the wake of Prop 209.

In 1991, during holiday break, logging begins at Elfland, an Ohlone Indian sacred site on campus. A day-long student protest follows, but the area is logged and Colleges Nine and Ten are built nonetheless.

The early part of the decade sees multiple large anti-war protests take place on campus in response to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with well over 1,000 people at many events. Anti-war coalitions form on campus and begin working on getting military recruiters OFF campus. One of the main organizations to come out of this period would be Students Against War (SAW) who would finally succeed, in 2006, in driving military recruiters off campus.

This period also marks the beginning of labor groups organizing the students on their behalf. Numerous days of action and protest on behalf of UC workers and employees dominated the last decade on campus, with numerous concessions made to UCSC workers.

During the mid- to late-2000s, student protests escalated. A striking example was when students protested a regents meeting on campus in the mid-2000s. This became the first time UC police pepper-sprayed students, with one student, a young black woman, suspended from the UC for three years; only through persistent protests over the next few months is she allowed to return. Then, the national media reveals that the Pentagon had been spying on UCSC activist groups, SAW in particular, with the help of the administration and members of local law enforcement. An international uproar follows – along with many student and community protests – and the Chancellor eventually convinces the Pentagon to take SAW off their credible threat list.

When the economy took a screaming nose-dive in 2008, tuition skyrocketed and the largest program and resource cuts yet would happen and are continuing. The language program was gutted; community studies was nearly obliterated and social sciences, the arts and humanities bore the brunt of the rest; 120 faculty positions were eliminated in 2008-2011 with an equal number of TAs axed; the Rape Prevention Education program is closed.

These massive cuts spark the beginning of the Occupy movement, one that would eventually spread in sentiment and execution across the country and around the world. Protests, hunger strikes and even a shutdown of campus all occur, as well as the pepper-spray and police brutality sent around the world by the international media (and thousands of cell phones).

Every step of progress, every right gained and equality recognized at UCSC came about because of the people, the community and organizations there; many of those organizations are still around, waiting for you to show up so that you can all take a brave stand and be heard again.

We can make this machine cease to function, shut it down, until they listen, until they have to listen. Neither violence nor diplomacy speak to the machine; in fact, violence feeds it. But when you stop the machine from working, when we use our bodies and our minds, our voices and our love to stop its gears and mechanisms, it will hear us. And we can say, in one voice as a community united by our differences: “Unless we’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”