Labor Organizing and Independent Media are Not Crimes

On August 31st, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were accompanying their fellow worker, Erik Forman, to his first day back on the job at Starbucks in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Erik was recently fired for labor organizing, although that was not the official explanation given by Starbucks.

Police from Plymouth, a town outside of Bloomington, prevented Erik’s supporters from getting off the light-rail and entering the mall. Erik was eventually allowed into the mall so he could get to work, although he was late as a result of all the police harassment and misinformation.

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Veterans for Peace Lead Funeral March in St. Paul

On August 31st, the day before the Republican National Convention (RNC), Veterans for Peace held a rally in front of the state capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota followed by a solemn march. Families of US soldiers and other marchers carried tombstones with the names of dead US soldiers. Meanwhile, the names of murdered Iraqis were read out loud and people responded, “We Remember.”

Towards the end of the march, organizers gave people the option of continuing along the police approved route or to engage in civil disobedience by towards a caged off area. A handful of people, including two women in their 70s, either rolled under or walked around the police fence and were eventually arrested.

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Keeping Santa Cruz Weird: Coonerty Gets ‘Hammer of Justice’ Award from Local ACLU

If the Santa Cruz chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is trying to “Keep Santa Cruz Weird”, then Ryan Coonerty was a fitting recipient for the “Hammer of Justice” award during their annual fundraiser at Long Marine Lab on August 24th. Coonerty is the mayor of Santa Cruz and either an owner of Book Shop Santa Cruz, or merely an employee of the bookstore, depending on which side of his mouth he is talking out of. His actions since becoming a Santa Cruz City Council-member in 2004, such as supporting police infiltration into community groups, should be, and in some cases have been, challenged by the ACLU. Therefore, one is left to believe that the Santa Cruz ACLU is a big supporter of irony when they award Coonerty, or just trying to do their part to ‘Keep Santa Cruz Weird.’

Coonerty, also a lecturer in the Legal Studies department at UC Santa Cruz and in the Political Science department at Cabrillo College, accepted his award while Bernard, a civil rights for the poor activist, held a sign stage left critical of his politics. The sign made three points: that Coonerty has cut public comment time for individuals during City Council meetings, banned activists critical of his policies from Book Shop Santa Cruz, and made it a crime to be in a public parking lot for longer than 15 minutes.

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Watsonville Shines at First Annual LGBTI Pride Celebration

People throughout the Monterey Bay Area marched, danced, and sang, with style and grace, at the historic, first annual, Watsonville LGBTI Pride Celebration on August 24th. Many families and youth took part in the march and rally, as well as non-profit, community and religious organizations. The most flamboyant marchers may have been Grupo Horizontes, a social support group in Watsonville and Santa Cruz for gay and bisexual Latinos that works to elevate personal esteem and mutual respect within the queer community with a focus on personal identity. The Brown Berets, perhaps the most recognizable organization in Watsonville, received a loud applause they marched into the plaza with a spray-paint banner that translates from spanish to english as, “Liberation for All of the Oppressed.”

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Neighbors and Labor Rally Against La Behemoth; Change to Zoning Law

People want to preserve, rather than destroy, the historic landmark built in the 1920s.

On August 21st, workers and Santa Cruz community members rallied in front of La Bahia protesting a variety of issues, including the ratio of unionized labor during the reconstruction and then operation of the new hotel. Neighbors, particularly those that live on First Street, are upset that the proposed project exceeds the current legal height limit and because the site is not zoned for such a large building. Other people want to preserve, rather than destroy, the historic landmark built in the 1920s.

A press release by the Build a Better La Bahia Coalition, a group of neighbors, construction and service workers, and community representatives interested in the successful development of a hotel at the site of La Bahia, states that they want the new hotel to be “both economically and environmentally successful.” However, concern for the environment, at least from the labor unions, appears to be token at best. In 1999, Mary Spicuzza wrote an in-depth article in Metro Santa Cruz about the plans for La Bahia. In the article, Spicuzza notes, “Union advocates concede that the their primary concern isn’t preserving landmarks or keeping neighbors happy, it’s organizing workers.”

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