Watsonville Vigil Remembers the Victims of Orlando

SOMOS LGBT vigil in Watsonville remembers “one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

[ Demonstrators send their love and solidarity from Watsonville, California to Orlando, Florida and the queer community everywhere. June 13, 2016. ]

SOMOS LGBT, a community organization raising awareness on equality and acceptance for all, began in Watsonville nine years ago. On the evening of June 13, SOMOS LGBT held a vigil at Watsonville Plaza to “remember one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

The day before on June 12, a mass shooting occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, resulting in 53 wounded and 50 dead, including the gunman, who was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

Community members from throughout Santa Cruz County gathered in Watsonville’s historic downtown Plaza to creatively express themselves through chants, singing, and holding signs to bring awareness of the continued attacks against LGBT people in this country.

Haley Brown of Santa Cruz held a sign reading “End Hate: racism • homophobia • transphobia • islamophobia.” Brown stated they stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the queer community everywhere.

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UFW & Driscoll’s: United To Exploit

Why won’t the United Farm Workers support the Driscoll’s Boycott?

[ Comprehensive Immigration Reform rally in Oxnard, California on May 1, 2013, International Workers Day. Children and adults wave red and black UFW flags while holding a Reiter Affiliated Companies banner next to a company representative holding a UFW flag. ]

Why won’t the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) support the Driscoll’s Boycott? That’s one of the questions UFW Vice President Lauro Barajas would not answer after he spoke at Hillary Clinton’s rally in Salinas on May 25.

There are two other questions that Barajas was unwilling to answer. He was asked why he personally took down UFW flags while people were speaking on stage and asking for support of the Driscoll’s Boycott at the Cesar Chavez March last month in Salinas. Barajas also refused to reveal anything about the UFW’s intimate relationship with Reiter Affiliated Companies, an Oxnard-based subsidiary of Driscoll’s which grows berries in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Northern Africa.

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New Leaf Community Markets in Felton Honors Driscoll’s Boycott

New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, California takes a righteous step in support of the farmworkers who grow our food. In addition to pulling Driscoll’s berries from their shelves, the market is displaying a letter with an overview of the boycott.

[ New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, CA honors the boycott of Driscoll’s berries. Photos by Michael Gasser (@mapinduzi21k). May 3, 2016. Collage by Bradley Allen. ]

New Leaf Community Markets, purchased by New Seasons Market in 2013, is a grocery chain founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1985. The market currently has seven locations, and an Aptos store is expected to open in August 2017.

On May 2, 2016, New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, which operates with a franchise agreement under separate ownership, confirmed that they are not selling Driscoll’s berries. New Leaf Community Markets in Boulder Creek operates under separate ownership as well.

This comes as exciting news for the boycott Driscoll’s movement. New Leaf Community Markets in Felton is believed to be the first grocery store in Santa Cruz County to remove Driscoll’s berries from their shelves in honor of the boycott.

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May Day March for Beach Flats Garden and Boycott Driscoll’s

The march drew connections between saving the local Beach Flats Community Garden and the global boycott of Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County.

[ Boycott Driscoll’s activists and supporters of the Beach Flats Community Garden demonstrate at New Leaf Community Market in downtown Santa Cruz to call upon the grocery chain to stop selling Driscoll’s berries. May 1, 2016. ]

In the spirit of International Workers Day, and in solidarity with the Beach Flats Community Garden and the boycott Driscoll’s movement led by indigenous farmworkers, demonstrators in Santa Cruz, California marched on May 1, 2016 from City Hall to New Leaf Community Market and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The spirited march drew connections between saving the treasured local garden and boycotting Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County since 1904.

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Beach Flats Gardeners Demand City Council Keep Their Promise

The City of Santa Cruz promised to seek acquisition of the land for a permanent garden, instead they bulldozed 40% of the garden to facilitate Seaside Company’s agenda.

[ Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (left) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago, lead the march up Pacific Avenue and they cross Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. April 26, 2016. ]

Is the City of Santa Cruz Really Committed to the Beach Flats Neighborhood?

Gardeners and Supporters March on City Hall Demanding that Council Follow Through With Previous Commitment to Purchase Land

On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, “The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden.”

Students at UC Santa Cruz advocating for the gardeners and the garden declare, “It is time to turn up the heat! The city broke their agreements about protecting the garden, both in terms of space promised, and a bunch of trees and cactus that were demolished during Spring Break.”

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Driscoll’s Runs Away At Watsonville Earth Day

People started speaking about the Driscoll’s boycott, so Driscoll’s got rid of their strawberries and quickly left Watsonville Earth Day.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets holds a boycott Driscoll’s flyer in front of the Driscoll’s booth at Watsonville Earth Day. April 24, 2016. ]

As the top sponsor of Watsonville’s 14th Annual Earth Day / Day of the Child Festival, the philanthropy specialists at Driscoll’s were hopeful that April 24, 2016 would be a great day at Ramsay Park for promoting their brand. The event was advertised as a “free … local celebration of youth, environment and community … featuring live entertainment, low cost food, jump houses and fun activities with over 50 organizations.” When a few people started speaking about the international boycott of Driscoll’s and handing out flyers, the Driscoll’s representatives quickly dismantled their event booth and got rid of their strawberries as fast as they could. Driscoll’s packed everything up and left before three o’clock even though more than an hour remained of the four hour promotional event.

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UFW Tries to Silence Boycott Driscoll’s Activists at Cesar Chavez March

What is UFW (United Farm Workers) doing to support farmworkers fighting for justice in San Quintín, México and Washington state? Nothing.

[ FUJ member Lázaro Matamoros and Chelsea Thaw of FUJ’s boycott coordination team carry a Boycott Driscoll’s banner in the annual Cesar Chavez March in Salinas, California. April 3, 2016. Photo by Michal Garcia. ]

On Sunday, April 3, Michael Garcia and fellow Watsonville Brown Berets traveled a short distance to Salinas, California to attend the annual Cesar Chavez March and Rally presented by United Farm Workers (UFW). The Watsonville Brown Berets were joined by members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union in Burlington, Washington fighting for a union contract, and initiators of the boycott against Driscoll’s.

The Watsonville Brown Berets (WBB) and FUJ activists spoke with people assembled at Cesar Chavez Community Park and handed out flyers about the growing movement to boycott Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. FUJ, along with tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintín, México, are fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from protected union activity.

Although advocating for farmworkers’ rights seems like it would be warmly welcomed by UFW, that was unfortunately not the experience for WBB and FUJ members. Garcia, born and raised in Watsonville, noticed that his friend was working the stage and asked if his group could have some time later to speak about the Driscoll’s boycott. Garcia’s friend, who was both the owner of the stage and a mariachi musician performing at the event, agreed to provide Garcia time. The stage owner, however, was then reportedly approached by UFW representatives and specifically told that UFW does not want WBB or FUJ speaking from the stage.

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