Dozens of people rallied behind the Saturn Cafe for an afternoon parade through town on Tuesday, February 11 in support of the Santa Cruz Eleven.
Over two months after the occupation of a vacant bank building at 75 River Street in Santa Cruz in 2011, eleven people were each charged with felony conspiracy and felony vandalism, and two misdemeanors for trespassing. All four charges were eventually dismissed against seven of the defendants, however four people are still facing three charges, and a trial is set to begin on March 3, 2014 at the Santa Cruz Courthouse.
The demonstration on November 30, 2011 was advertised as a march to a foreclosed property, but resulted in the occupation of a vacant bank at 75 River Street. The building has been vacant and leased since at least May 2008 by Wells Fargo Bank located across the street at 74 River Street. The occupation consisted of many hundreds of people and came during the height of the global Occupy movement. It ended a few days later on December 2, 2011 when occupiers willingly left the building.
In a preliminary hearing on January 8, 2013, Judge Paul Birdick found that the occupation at 75 River Street appeared to be a “spontaneous occupation” and dismissed the felony conspiracy charge against the four remaining defendants: Brent Adams, Franklin Alcantara, Cameron Laurendau, and Gabriella Ripply-Phipps.
Parade for the Santa Cruz Eleven
After rallying behind the Saturn Cafe on February 11, demonstrators paraded through town while spreading the word about the Eleven, playing music, dancing, and having fun. People paraded up Pacific Avenue, briefly stopped at the Town Clock, went past 75 River Street, and then over to Santa Cruz City Hall.
It was a vibrant demonstration that included bubble-blowers as well as people dressed in gold clothing with glitter and capes. One gold-clad supporter drew laughs from passersby while hauling a large and colorful plastic drum and proclaiming, “I’ve got an empty can of justice. There’s no justice.” A two-story cardboard bank with a money sign was towed in a wagon by one of the defendants who was dressed and waving like a beauty queen on a float in a parade.
In addition to carrying large banners stating, “Support the Santa Cruz Eleven” and “Drop the Charges Now” many people wore t-shirts and carried signs which read, “I Was In The Building. Support the SC 11. santacruz11.wordpress.com”.
Flyer in Support of the Santa Cruz Eleven
Friends of the Santa Cruz 11 passed out two-sided flyers as they paraded up Pacific Avenue and past 75 River Street. The back of the flyer has a list of “essential facts”, and the front of the flyer shows the four remaining defendants sitting inside Judge Burdicks’s courtroom. It says:
The Santa Cruz 11: Still Waiting
Two years later, the remaining 4 members of the SC 11 are getting ready for trial. The City has spent tens of thousands of dollars prosecuting these activists to try to get $23,000 for Wells Fargo, while schools remain underfunded, social programs are being cut, houseless people die from exposure, and our county faces serious [ends abruptly].
Join us in saying enough is enough!
Drop the Charges!
Trial starts March 3rd
@ the County Courthouse
701 Ocean St. in Dept. 6.
[Disclosure: This reporter is one of the eleven defendants whose charges were dismissed on May 14, 2012.]
View really great photos of this demonstration by Alex Darocy on Indybay.org!