Anarchists Aren’t Evil

By Simone Chandler – Metro Santa Cruz – May 5-12, 2010

SOMETHING happened on Saturday night in downtown Santa Cruz. There was a ruckus. There was a dance party. There was also aftermath—broken glass, graffiti on walls, police in riot gear. There were circle-A’s spray-painted on businesses. And even though rebellious teenagers for the past 40 years have scribbled that symbol wherever they felt, it makes it easy for people to believe that all anarchists are evil and responsible for all the destruction and all the fear. And swept into this melee is SubRosa, an anarchist infoshop.It must be their fault. The fact that SubRosa didn’t have anything to do with the event doesn’t seem to matter. That the only link is an arrested person who saw a flier at SubRosa. Of course there was a flier at SubRosa. There were fliers all over town. You can still see them on the telephone poles lining Soquel Drive.

This isn’t the first time anarchists have been blamed for the problems of society. In fact, the history of May Day is tied up in the demonization of anarchists. In 1887, four anarchists were hung in Chicago after being framed for throwing bombs at police during a protest. Three more were to spend six years in prison until pardoned by Gov. Altgeld, who said the trial that convicted them was characterized by “hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge.” The anarchists were a part of a massive strike that began on May 1, 1886, demanding an eight-hour workday.

SubRosa is pretty innocuous, really. It is based on values of self-responsibility, mutual support and free association. Like anarchism itself, it encompasses a wide range of perspectives. The shelves are filled with books espousing a variety of ideas, some in contradiction to each other. The room is filled with a variety of people, young people, old people. The volunteers spend their time and energy working to create a positive and family-friendly space.

Some of the people who frequent SubRosa are homeless. SubRosa is the one place in town where you can sit down without having to pay for anything. You can’t sit on Pacific Avenue, not with all the statues and parking meters and downtown ordinances. Not with all the business owners who don’t want you anywhere near their stores if you aren’t going to buy anything. Not with all the downtown hosts who walk up to you, shake their head and move you along down Pacific. They point you to the block where SubRosa is; the downtown hosts don’t go south of Laurel.

In the atmosphere of downtown Santa Cruz, where there is so much conflict between so many haves and so many have-nots, May Day’s eruption doesn’t seem so out of place. The homeless and other “undesirables” are constantly being forced off Pacific Avenue, and it comes as no surprise that some of them stood up and pushed back against the city that rejected them.

But, really, we don’t know what actually happened on May Day. There were hundreds of people there, but no one can stand up and say, “I was there. I was a part of this.” Because to do that is to throw yourself into the maelstrom of accusation, is to label yourself a criminal even if you never picked up a rock or held a can of spray paint. “Known anarchists” who were safe at home in bed are now having their names posted on the Internet, being accused of planning the whole thing. It doesn’t matter that they were in no way involved, because an accusation is a very powerful, very dangerous thing.

In the atmosphere of downtown Santa Cruz, where there is so much conflict between so many haves and so many have-nots, May Day’s eruption doesn’t seem so out of place. The homeless and other “undesirables” are constantly being forced off Pacific Avenue, and it comes as no surprise that some of them stood up and pushed back against the city that rejected them.

But, really, we don’t know what actually happened on May Day. There were hundreds of people there, but no one can stand up and say, “I was there. I was a part of this.” Because to do that is to throw yourself into the maelstrom of accusation, is to label yourself a criminal even if you never picked up a rock or held a can of spray paint. “Known anarchists” who were safe at home in bed are now having their names posted on the Internet, being accused of planning the whole thing. It doesn’t matter that they were in no way involved, because an accusation is a very powerful, very dangerous thing.

Simone Chandler is a member of the SubRosa collective;

As You See It, May 6, 2010: More thoughts on downtown vandalism

S.C.Sentinel  05/06/2010

In defense of SubRosa

The antics of a few individuals this past Saturday evening have been rightly denounced by the community as childish and senseless. Their actions are without defense and should not be tolerated.

I am a Santa Cruz native with long-standing friendships with many local merchants including the Williams family. I am also an anarchist and supporter of the SubRosa Cafe and the many public projects and activities developed by its collective members. They are a dedicated group of volunteers committed to opening up new avenues of resistance to power and authority, and to providing a wide range of creative programs for the general public. Their commitment to social justice and defense of equality should be welcomed in any progressive community.

Nick Theodosis, Santa Cruz

Cowardice, not a riot

This was not a riot. And I wish the Sentinel would stop upping the fear stakes by naming it such. Certainly, the destruction was/is reprehensible, but most of the marchers/dancers were just young people out having some fun on a warm night. When the cowards behind masks began to break things, some of the other partiers actually tried to stop them. Maybe we should compliment them and be thankful they had enough sense not to join the so-called anarchists who were trying to start an actual riot. So please stop giving these masked cowards more credit than they deserve. This was not a riot.

Dusty Nelson, Santa Cruz

Editorial fans flames

Your angry editorial about the recent downtown vandalism is fuel on the fires of anger that breed this kind of behavior. I do not defend the actions taken on the street, but the real question is: Was this predictable? Review the city’s list of new laws for the homeless, who should be called The Riven, the way we ignore them, and ask how they might feel. I’m sorry about the recent troubles and pleased we cannot afford the police state that anger always wants.

Charles Huddleston, Soquel

SubRosa a real asset

This is a response to the Sentinel article implying that the SubRosa Cafe was behind the vandalism that took place on May 1. This coffee shop had no part in the vandalism that took place on May 1 and this article is only a way to make a connection where there is none.

SubRosa is a great community space that has enriched Santa Cruz. Because many of the people who run the coffee shop have anarchist ideals is no reason to malign them. Anarchism has a long American tradition and only means being against authority, especially illegitimate authority. Makes a lot of sense to me. Some anarchists believe that violence is a legitimate form of political struggle, especially in self-defense. However, a large percentage of anarchists are pacifists many anarchists spent World War I and World War II in prison for their pacifist ideals, I’m guessing a much larger percentage than the overall population that tends to support our country’s many wars.

Craig Metz, Santa Cruz

Blame won’t help

We are writing on behalf of the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Transportation to make clear our position and feelings regarding Saturday night’s acts of vandalism and property damage. We do not in any way approve or condone these acts. They are harmful not only economically, but socially. We live and work downtown, and value good relations with our neighbors. These riotous acts were childish, macho and seemingly pointless.

We do not appreciate the indiscriminate backlash against radical and alternative organizations. Members of the SubRosa collective, People Power! and The Hub’s landlords who are longtime residents, businessmen and property owners in the county have all received threats of physical violence and harassment online and in person. What a response to senseless violence — threats of more violence directed at innocent parties. Last year, the Hub’s offices were repeatedly burglarized and our windows smashed. We wouldn’t wish such wanton vandalism on anyone else. We struggled not to look out at the street and resent all the people who looked scruffy or different from us. However, responding by blaming doesn’t help the community or the individuals affected to recover — it only spreads the hurt around.

The Board of the Hub for Sustainable Transportation

Note: The Hub for Sustainable Transportation is a nonprofit umbrella with member organizations: the Bike Church, People Power!, Green Ways to School and PedEx. We also rent space to independent projects: The Computer Kitchen, SubRosa and The Fabrica sewing collective.

Thanks for supporting us

It has been touching, reassuring and deeply inspiring to receive such an incredible outpouring of support from the community in response to the destruction incurred on our business on May 1.

Thank you for the flowers and the phone calls; thank you for stopping in to express your sympathy and share your sentiments; thank you to those who have been coming downtown determined to make a purchase at any business that was vandalized. Thank you to the man who walked in, opened up his wallet and extended the single dollar bill inside in order to help fund our window replacement. Thank you to the woman who walked in and offered to write a $50 check to put toward our deductible. Thank you to The Krate’s amazing artists for the mural and donation of paint. Thank you to everyone who supports our downtown in light of recent events, but also consistently over many years. We are here to stay and committed to making our downtown strong, safe and successful.

The Dell Williams Family

Town needs some help

I was watching the movie “Tombstone” the other night and couldn’t help but draw some parallels between that town’s predicament and ours. Since we don’t have Wyatt Earp and his gang to help us though perhaps we could enlist the Hells Angels to help our cash-strapped town. Their presence lately seems to be more noticed than the cops, who should have never let that crowd converge on our town last Saturday.

Rick Popplewell, Scotts Valley

The red flag was there

So the police felt the May Day event on the Pacific Mall did not need monitoring based on the fliers advertising the event? Hello. What part of “Kick it with us for a truly sick night of mayhem” did not raise a red flag? The police need to check a dictionary for the word mayhem, which means random or deliberate violence or damage. To serve and protect? I think not.

Martha Dolciamore, Soquel

Gangs the real problem

While I applaud the hiring of eight new policemen to the city force, I wish the announcement would have come six months ago after a teenager was murdered by gangs, or last month after yet another young man was shot down by gang violence or all year as the number of stabbings have risen. However, the City Council waits until property damage by a group anarchists before deciding to fill vacant police positions and engage the FBI. Is property more valuable than lives? The FBI and Homeland Security should be here to end this violence because gangs are the true terrorists in this community. They have no regard for lives, the larger community and the government. Bring them down. Let’s have a safe place to live.

Sally NeSmith, Santa Cruz

Get rid of the stones

Why do we have 20- to 30-pound stones just lying there in flower beds on Pacific, and then we are surprised when some knucklehead throws them through the plate glass windows 20 feet away? This has bothered me for years. Could someone go to the river for a big rock? Sure. But carrying a 30-pound rock for two to three blocks will tire anyone out and give them time to cool off. Having big windows on one side of the sidewalk, big rocks on the other and the varied crowds of Pacific Avenue in the middle is asking for trouble. Get the rocks out.

William Lewis, Santa Cruz

Has commercial real estate hit bottom in Santa Cruz County?


SC Sentinel 05/03/2010

SANTA CRUZ — The county’s once hot commercial real estate market has cooled considerably, with nearly a million square feet of office space empty at the start of the year and asking rates dropping compared to a year ago.

The market hasn’t hit the 1 million mark since 2004, according to Cassidy Turley BT Commercial, which reviews the data for Santa Cruz County quarterly.

Last week, Wells Fargo closed three bank branches as it completed its acquisition of Wachovia, putting new office space on the market in Capitola, Aptos and Scotts Valley. Sue Lewis, community president at Wells Fargo, said it didn’t make sense to keep them open because all three had bank branches nearby.

Leasing agent Matt Shelton of J.R. Parrish said activity picked up in the first quarter in Scotts Valley, which has the most commercial space in the county.

“We’ve leased more this year than in the last 18 months,” Shelton said.

The deals included: Embarcadero Technology, which leased 20,000 square feet in the Granite Creek Business Center, moving from the former Borland campus; helmet-maker Easton-Bell, which took another 11,000 square feet on Scotts Valley Drive and brought people here from Los Angeles; and Roku Networks, which expanded from 3,000 to 10,000 square feet on El Pueblo Drive.

University of the Pacific economist Jeffrey Michael predicts a slow five-year recovery for the state, with Silicon Valley showing early signs of growth. His forecast says sustained business investment is needed to sustain the recovery against forces such as state and local government cuts, foreclosures and tight credit conditions.

In Scotts Valley, office vacancy had risen to 18.9 percent at the end of 2009 compared to 17.7 percent a year before. Asking rates averaged $1.80 per square foot, down from $1.97.

Industrial vacancies rose to 7.3 percent from 3.3 percent in the same time frame, with the asking rate dropping 11 cents to 85 cents per square foot triple net.

In Mid-County, which includes Capitola, Aptos and Soquel, office vacancies rose from 4.4 percent to 7.9 percent while asking rates dropped 8 cents to $2.12 per square foot. Industrial vacancies grew from 3.5 percent to 4.8 percent, with asking rates falling 15 cents to 86 cents per square foot triple net.

Kohl’s took 11,000 square feet at the Capitola Mall and LED Green Power leased 7,350 square feet on Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz but the Gottschalks space in the mall remains vacant.

Watsonville’s office vacancies rose from 5.4 percent to 8.2 percent; asking rates plummeted from $1.95 per square foot to $1.63. Driscoll Strawberry leased 8,600 square feet at the Westridge Business Park but Cassidy Turley called leasing “anemic.”

The normally stable industrial market eased with vacancies rising from 1 percent to 3.2 percent due in part to a large warehouse listed for sublease; asking rates dropped from 78 cents per square foot to 55 cents.

In the city of Santa Cruz, office vacancies edged up from 14.7 percent to 15.2 percent. Asking rates were $1.88 per square foot, off by just 4 cents.

The industrial market vacancy remained 8.7 percent. Staff of Life purchased the empty 18,000 square foot Pacific Coast car dealership on Soquel for its expansion project, but Cassidy Turley said leasing was sluggish.

Other major developments are on hold, including the Skypark Town Center in Scotts Valley, the Delaware Avenue mixed use project in Santa Cruz, and Sutter’s medical office planned on Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz.

Shelton said a bigger Scotts Valley transaction, for 44,000 square feet, is “an inch away” from getting city approval.

It’s not already in the county and it’s not high-tech, he said, declining to name the firm until the deal is finalized.

“It gets better every day,” Shelton said. “The more people believe they’ve hit bottom, they’re more willing to make a move.”

Michael Schoeder of Cassidy Turley is representing Wells Fargo for the property available in Capitola and Scotts Valley.

The bank is asking $1.4 million for the former Wachovia building comprising 3,886 square feet at 1830 41st Ave. in Capitola near Whole Foods and the Capitola Mall. Already four offers have come in, according to Cassidy Turley managing broker Carol Canaris.

Wells Fargo has 3,420 square feet at 203 Mount Hermon Road in Scotts Valley is available for sublease; the lease expires March 31, 2012.

“If there’s a tenant we’ll take it,” said Jared Bogaard, whose family owns the building.

The vacant bank branch in Aptos was developed by Joe Appenrodt, who was unavailable to comment.

“Since the Aptos Village Plan passed it should become a very desirable space,” said Karen Hibble of the Aptos Chamber of Commerce. “It is a large space and parking is good as are the views from some of the windows. We certainly hope it does not remain vacant too long.”

At least 18 Santa Cruz businesses suffered damage during May Day riot

by Shanna McCord
SC Sentinel 05/02/2010

SANTA CRUZ — Downtown business owners spent Sunday repairing shattered windows and doors after a May Day rally Saturday night turned into a riot with approximately 250 people marching along Pacific Avenue, some carrying makeshift torches, throwing large rocks and paint bombs, and spray-painting walls with graffiti.

At least 18 businesses suffered damage during the rally in honor of international workers that began at 9 p.m. and escalated into mayhem around 10:30 p.m., police said. Investigators estimated damage at $100,000, though some business owners said it could be more. No injuries were reported.

On Sunday, sea green-colored glass littered sidewalks where windows and glass doors had been smashed. Maintenance workers, many getting called in the middle of the night, boarded up windows with plywood until new sheets of glass could be installed.

The vandalized businesses included Urban Outfitters, Peet’s Coffee, Noah’s Bagels, Jamba Juice, Velvet Underground and Dell Williams Jewelers. The unoccupied Rittenhouse building also was damaged. A police car was vandalized with rocks and paint, department spokesman Zach Friend said.

Roxie Jones, a resident at Palomar Apartments, spent Sunday morning cleaning yellow paint blobs off of her white Pontiac Grand Prix, which was parked on Pacific Avenue during the riot.

Velvet Underground owner Diane Towns said she was sickened by the smashing of a large window at her north Pacific Avenue clothing store, which has been downtown since 1994. Vandals also dragged a mannequin out of the store and tore off the dress and jewelry, she said.

“We’ve been up all night. I’m just devastated,” Towns said Sunday morning. “We’ve had a hard enough time staying open with the economy, now this. It’s going to cost me at least $1,000 to replace the window.”

Kevin Melrose, manager of the Rittenhouse building, estimated it would cost more than $30,000 to replace the three windows and two doors that were smashed in the riot. There was also damage to some artwork being stored inside the vacant building at Pacific Avenue and Church Street, he said.

“This is just stupidity,” Melrose said. “This is a violent protest to me, and it diminishes their cause.”

The only person arrested in connection to the downtown destruction was Jimi Haynes, a 24-year-old transient from Fresno County. Police said Haynes was seen breaking two large display windows at Dell Williams Jewelers, a longtime family-owned local business. He was booked into County Jail on suspicion of felony vandalism and a parole hold.

Police said Haynes told them he learned about the May Day rally from a flier posted at the Santa Cruz anarchist cafe, Sub Rosa, which is at Spruce Street and Pacific Avenue. Several fliers had circulated around town and on the Internet advertising a May Day street party in Santa Cruz.

The fliers didn’t contain names or groups responsible for the event.

“Take back this day. Kick it with us for a truly sick night of mayhem,” a flier said.

Another flier billed the event as a chance to “celebrate, eat, drink, dance and take over,” while another predicted a “massive” street party.

Police said they knew the May Day event was being planned, but felt there was no need to monitor it closely because there was no indication it would turn destructive.

The city event coordinator Kathy Agnone had reached out to the group to encourage them to obtain a permit, but they refused, Friend said.

“There were fliers, but there wasn’t any indication it would be this kind of event,” Friend said. “The fliers we had didn’t give any indication like that.”

Scenes from the downtown riot were caught on video and posted online to YouTube. The short clips show a mass of people marching down Pacific Avenue. Three or four individuals dressed all in black, their faces covered, darted out of the crowd to storefronts, swinging what appeared to be tire irons at windows and in some cases throwing rocks the size of bowling balls.

In some cases, the rocks remained Sunday morning on the sidewalks where they fell.

No police were seen in the video while the destruction was under way. Later, the video showed the street mostly empty as police cars and officers on foot moved through the area.

Friend said there were eight officers on duty in the city, including two downtown, when the 911 call came about 10:30 p.m.

Instead of facing an unruly crowd in which police were outnumbered 20 to 1, Friend said, the officers requested mutual aid from every law enforcement agency in the county, including Watsonville, Capitola, UC Santa Cruz, California Highway Patrol, harbor police and sheriff’s deputies.

“Every available resource responded. Obviously it takes time to get all of the county’s resources assembled,” Friend said. “Once we were there, it was contained in less than 20 minutes and the crowd dispersed and the vandalism stopped.”

Police said they expect to make more arrests. They hope surveillance video taken at various businesses will help them identify those involved.

Councilman Ryan Coonerty, whose family owns a downtown bookstore that was not damaged in the riot, described the vandalism as “childish, asinine, pseudo-revolutionary acts” that take police away from other critical public safety needs such as those connected to gangs.

“The fact is between the gang violence and the acts of violence downtown, we need more police,” Coonerty said Sunday. “We’ve authorized a lot of overtime to deal with the gang problems and that costs a lot of money. We’re going into the red for overtime because we think it’s important to have extra police on duty right now. But going into the red is not sustainable.”

Coonerty said he planned to talk to police today about how city officials can better support the department’s efforts to curtail crime.

Chip, the head of the Downtown Association who goes by only one name, said the business owners he talked to on Sunday were frustrated by Saturday’s “senseless” violence.

“The victims in this are our community, the businesses and families trying to make a go of it,” Chip said. “These are selfish idiots. It doesn’t make sense.”

The owners of Zocolli’s Italian deli on Pacific Avenue received phone calls at home at 1:30 a.m. Sunday alerting them to the uprising. The fact that their business escaped damage didn’t diminish their anger over the vandalism downtown.

“It’s disgusting,” Caitlin Zocolli said. “They’re just making themselves look terrible. It just makes them look like animals. For all they know, we’re all on their side.”

Katy Hope of Newport Beach was shocked to see the destruction while shopping downtown with her daughter Rosie on Sunday.

“This isn’t a protest. This is violence,” Hope said. “This is really wrong.”

Georgeta Cole, a Sacramento resident visiting Santa Cruz for the day with her fiance, said the vandalism was inexcusable.

“It’s irritating that people destroy property to get their point across,” Cole said. “It’s horrible.”