Rally for Santa Cruz 11

by City on a Hill Press, A Student-Run Newspaper at UCSC.
Written by William Glad, David Orozco and KellyAnn Kelso.
Illustration by Christine Hipp.

This Week in News

On May 4, concerned community members gathered for a rally at the courthouse and marched downtown to show support for the Santa Cruz 11 — the majority of them journalists — who were arrested in an Occupy demonstration at 75 River St. last fall.

The rally began at the courthouse and featured speakers who brought the crowd up to speed on unfolding judicial proceedings. About a hundred people then marched down Water Street, turned left onto Pacific Avenue and walked back to the courthouse the way they came. The rally culminated with a few more speakers and a Wells Fargo-shaped piñata.

Participants held signs bearing slogans like “Journalism is not a crime,” and chanted “What do we want?” “Drop the charges!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”

Becky Johnson, a homeless rights activist and one of the journalists arrested, said she was “overwhelmed by the support from the Brown Berets and Occupy Santa Cruz.” The prosecution has greatly impacted her and her husband, who faces serious medical problems, but Occupy Santa Cruz and others have organized a strong community network for those arrested.

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for people coming out,” she said.

Steve Pleich, a board member of the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter, helped organize the march and has worked to galvanize the ACLU’s official support. The rally “went as well as it possibly could have,” he said, commenting on the depth of public support for the 11 arrested.

Though police closely followed the march, Pleich said he was thankful the authorities respected the right to assemble and demonstrate.

More trials and preliminary hearings will be held later this month, but the District Attorney’s office has shown no signs of relenting. Though four of the 11 were acquitted because of a lack of evidence, the District Attorney’s office may refile to prosecute two of them.

“Empty buildings are the crime,” Johnson said. “It’s a business model that may work for [Wells Fargo], but not for the community.”

More information and a petition are available at santacruzeleven.org.