To honor victims of gang-related violence and push for an end to the violence in the community.
Article by Heather R. Putnam; photos by Bradley Stuart
On Saturday, October 29, the 18th Annual Peace & Unity March was held in Watsonville, California. The march was organized by the Autonomous Chapter of the Watsonville Brown Berets in collaboration with White Hawk Danza Azteca to honor victims of gang-related violence in Watsonville and to push for an end to the violence in the community. The opening ceremony at Watsonville Plaza began with a blessing song performed by local drummers. Following that, Sandino Gómez, historian for the Watsonville Brown Berets, recounted how the march began in 1994 to honor Jessica and Jorge Cortéz, 16 and 9 years old, who were gunned down execution-style because they had witnessed a gang–related crime. Gómez emphasized that “violence is not the solution” and that everyone present “must be part of the solution”. A representative of the mothers of victims, Rose de Ramirez, who lost her son to gang-related violence sixteen years ago, emphasized, “We need support from the community to stop violence”.
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On October 7th, hundreds of people marched from Santa Cruz Mission Plaza and demonstrated at national financial institutions in downtown, as part of Occupy Santa Cruz, a local movement in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 800+ occupations taking place in towns and cities throughout the U.S. Demonstrators held signs and chanted outside Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo, and briefly marched on Soquel Avenue, Pacific and Mission Street.
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Occupy Santa Cruz kicked off at 10am on October 6th at San Lorenzo Park. Dozens of people gathered for discussions, and to settle in for an ongoing occupation of the park. A tarp was strung from trees, food donations were collected and distributed, and talks are underway about bathrooms, safety, focus and message of the occupation, the general assembly meeting at 6pm, marching and demonstrating, outreach, and much more.
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Occupy Santa Cruz, a local convergence in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, held it’s first General Assembly on October 4th at Laurel Park in Santa Cruz. Hundreds of people gathered in the park, prior to the evening rain, and decided by consensus to launch an occupation at San Lorenzo Park starting Thursday, October 6th at 10am.
On September 17th, over one thousand demonstrators poured into New York City’s financial district to confront corporate greed by establishing an ongoing presence, day and night, in lower Manhattan. The idea was to create an American Tahir Square on Wall Street. Police blocked marchers from reaching Wall Street, but hundreds persisted and set up camp in Zuccotti Park, now dubbed Liberty Plaza.
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