WILPF Condemns Local Law Enforcement and Supports Eleven Local Activists

The Santa Cruz Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) condemns the action of local law enforcement in attempting to prosecute eleven local activists who are alleged to have occupied the long-deserted bank building at Water and River Streets last fall.

The Santa Cruz Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) condemns the action of local law enforcement in attempting to prosecute eleven local activists who are alleged to have occupied the long-deserted bank building at Water and River Streets last fall.

Four of the defendants are journalists, who were present to report to the community on the protests.  The First Amendment is clear on the rights of journalists to observe and print their findings; the charges against them should be dropped immediately.

It is also apparent that some of the defendants have been targeted for arrest (out of the hundreds who went in and out of the building over the several days of the occupation) because of previous brushes with law enforcement officials. The Constitution forbids charging people with crimes on the basis of their identity or past actions.

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420 2012 in Porter Meadow at UC Santa Cruz

Four Twenty in Porter Meadow at UCSC is an unorganized annual tradition.

On Friday, April 20th, thousands of people descended upon Porter Meadow at UC Santa Cruz for Four Twenty (420), a counterculture holiday observed in cities throughout the world, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.

Cannabis is recognized as medicine by the state of California, 17 other states in the USA, Washington DC, and a growing number of people and governments all over the world. Cannabis is typically ingested through smoke or foods made with cannabis-infused cooking oil or butter.

Four Twenty in Porter Meadow at UCSC is an unorganized annual tradition. Last year, rain caused people to seek shelter under the forest canopy. This year, it was the hot sun which drove people to the shade provided by the trees.

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One Day of Charity in Santa Cruz: A Band-Aid Event or A Transformational Experience?

Hundreds of people, most of whom are experiencing homelessness, and therefore typically marginalized and criminalized in our community, were provided with a wide range of services and some goods.

According to Project Homeless Connect, which includes corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies, the organization began in San Francisco in 2004 “when Mayor Gavin Newsom challenged his county workers to create a better system of care for the homeless community.” In Santa Cruz, Project Homeless Connect is “a service filled day that aims at widespread social justice for homeless.”

Since 2004, Project Homeless Connect “has spread to more than 220 cities in 3 different countries to become a national best practice model with great success in getting homeless families off the streets and breaking the cycle of poverty. Rather than being a band-aid event, it is a transformational experience not only for the guests, but also for the volunteers, agencies, and businesses that participate.”

On April 17th, the third annual Project Homeless Connect Santa Cruz was held inside and outside the Civic Auditorium on Church Street in Santa Cruz. Hundreds of people, most of whom are experiencing homelessness, and therefore typically marginalized and criminalized in our community, were provided with a wide range of services and some goods.

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ACLU Statement of Support and Petition for “Journalists, Local Press and Activists”

Eleven local activists have been charged with a variety of offenses arising from the occupation of a vacant bank building last fall. We have two primary concerns regarding this prosecution. First, at least some of the defendants are journalists who were present to report on the protest. We condemn any attempt to criminalize their exercise of the crucial First Amendment right to gather and disseminate information about this newsworthy event. All charges based on this constitutionally protected activity should be dropped immediately.

Second, it appears that some of the defendants may have been charged due to their past adversarial relationship with law enforcement officials. The Constitution requires that the enormous power of government be exercised fairly and even handedly, and not be based on the identity or past actions of the defendants. The District Attorney should re-examine the basis for the charges, and the Court must ensure that these activists are not being selectively prosecuted.

Very truly yours,

Peter Gelblum
Chair, Board of Directors
ACLU–Santa Cruz Chapter

Sign the ACLU’s Statement of Support

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OCCUPIED: A Look Inside Some of the Lesser-Known Aftereffects of the Local Occupy Movement

A banner reading “Reclaim Space—Reclaim our Lives” was hung above a counter where bank tellers had once smiled and counted out bills.

Three days of barricades, meetings, dance parties and sleeping inside a vacant bank—and charges of trespassing, vandalism and conspiracy against 11. A deeper look inside some of the lesser-known aftereffects of the local Occupy Movement.

By John Malkin, Santa Cruz Good Times

Seventy-four days after the birth of the Occupy Movement in September 2011, a self-described “anonymous, autonomous group standing in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz,” entered a building in Downtown Santa Cruz that had been vacant for three years. A press release from occupiers explained that the building, formerly owned by Wells Fargo and now leased to the bank, would be “transformed into a community center.”

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