Santa Cruz Responds to SB 1070, Arizona’s Criminalization of Immigrant Communities

Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the broadest and strictest anti-immigrant measure in decades.

On July 29, 2010, a diverse showing of Santa Cruz residents rallied at Depot Park and marched up Pacific Avenue to the town clock in protest of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, a legislative act that is said to be the broadest and strictest anti-immigrant measure in decades. The demonstrators proclaimed solidarity with all communities resisting SB 1070, a law they say scapegoats migrants, and also voiced outrage to local police and sheriffs working with the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within Santa Cruz County neighborhoods and the jail.

Demonstrators carried homemade signs with statements such as, “Blame Wall Street, Not Immigrants” and “Destroy Every Border, Solidarity to Detainees & Prisoners, Free Them All!”

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“Unreasonably Disturbing Noises” Trial Continued for Robert Facer and Robert Norse

On July 20, 2010, Robert “Blindbear” Facer, a homeless street musician, and Robert Norse, a housed activist and long-time supporter of homeless civil rights, had their trial continued until August 3rd. On January 6th, they were issued a $445 citation for an alleged violation of MC 9.36.020, the city’s ordinance against “unreasonably disturbing noises,” during a demonstration against war and occupation abroad and the local criminalization of poverty, within a “free speech zone” outside of Bookshop Santa Cruz on the Pacific Avenue sidewalk.

The police allegedly arrived at the January 6th demonstration to issue citations based on a “citizen’s complaint” from Sean Reilly, a resident in the nearby St. George apartments. He complained because he was trying to sleep, at 2:30pm, on a Wednesday. Sean was in court on July 20th and presumably ready to testify. SCPD officer Lauren Schonfield, who issued the citations, also appeared in court.

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People v. Wes Modes: Trying to Remove DIY from Santa Cruz

Wes Modes returned to Santa Cruz County Court on July 16, 2010. This high-profile infraction case, claimed by supporters as harassment of Modes, a well-known anarchist activist, stems from his alleged participation in the Last Night DIY New Year’s parade on December 31st, 2009, as well as a knowledge that the 2009 parade did not receive a permit. A ruling in the case is expected shortly after August 9th.

According to supporters, the parade infraction is the latest in a series of police harassment that Wes has received since outing Santa Cruz police officers who infiltrated activist meetings in 2005. Longtime Santa Cruz resident and parade participant Grant Wilson stated that Wes, an outspoken critic of the Santa Cruz Police Department, is being unjustly targeted from a crowd of community organizers, facilitators and participants. Wes is apparently one of three people that were issued a citation for participating in the DIY Parade.

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Oscar Grant Rally in Santa Cruz Against Injustice and Police Murder

Demonstration in Santa Cruz against police murder and the unjust verdict in the trial of Johanes Mehserle.

In the early hours of January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III was murdered by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, shot in the back as he lay face-down on the Fruitvale BART platform with BART officer Tony Pirone’s knee in his shoulder.

On July 8, 2010, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but acquitted on the more serious charges of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. The jury included eight women and four men. A white police officer killed a black man, yet no African-Americans served on the jury. The killing took place in Oakland, but the trail was moved out of Alameda County to Los Angeles.

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