On July 23rd, as the California budget bill moves to the state legislature, local residents, some dressed as jelly fish and a sea anemone, held an afternoon demonstration in front of the Chevron on Ocean St. in Santa Cruz to oppose a plan to open the Central Coast to new drilling for the first time in 40 years. Demonstrators, including the staff of Save Our Shores, a non-profit organization based in Santa Cruz working since 1978 to prevent oil drilling in the Monterey Bay, are calling on the legislature to oppose new drilling off the California Coast, and instead pass an oil severance tax which would reportedly raise $1 billion a year from existing leases.
The AETA is being used for the first time since its passage by Congress in 2006 to do exactly what civil rights advocates feared it would do – criminalize activities protected by the First Amendment of the U.S.
On July 13th, defense attorneys for Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo (the AETA 4) presented oral arguments on their motion to strike down the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The AETA 4 are being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), and other well-respected civil rights attorneys, including Tony Serra. The defense demanded that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) be struck down as unconstitutional before Judge Ronald Whyte of the United States District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose.
The AETA is being used for the first time since its passage by Congress in 2006 to do exactly what civil rights advocates feared it would do – criminalize activities protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The oral arguments presented on July 13th were not about the allegations as directly applied to the AETA 4, but rather that the whole case should be dismissed now because AETA itself is unconstitutional.
Photo of the AETA 4 courtesy of the AETA 4 Support Committee. From left to right: Nathan Pope, Adriana Stumpo, Maryam Khajavi and Joseph Buddenberg.
On July 3, 2009, a busy pre-holiday afternoon in downtown Santa Cruz, numerous stores were displaying a declaration printed by local homeless rights advocates. The pledge reads, “This business does not discriminate. We support Human Rights for the homeless community, including the right to sleep at night–not anywhere and everywhere–but somewhere.”
Since around mid-June, homeless rights advocates, including HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom), have been approaching local businesses and asking them to support human rights for the homeless by displaying the pledge either outside or inside their store. It is possible that some stores could see the pledge as little more than a cheap marketing opportunity or perhaps as something as simple and socially-accepted as a peace-sign. However, the stores are taking a stand against backers of a Santa Cruz Municipal Code known as the “homeless sleeping ban.” The influential backers of the sleeping ban include City of Santa Cruz bureaucrats, the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz, which claims to represent hundreds of Santa Cruz businesses.
The sleeping ban prohibits the act of sleeping between 11pm and 8:30am anywhere outdoors or in a vehicle on both public and private property within the city limits. Homeless rights activists are dedicated to ending this ban and finding what they say are real solutions, such as “Safe Sleeping Zones” for vehicles and campers.