Hundreds Rally in Santa Cruz to Support Planned Parenthood

Demonstration outside Planned Parenthood Santa Cruz in support of fundamental rights to affordable healthcare and non-judgmental family planning.

[ Protect Your Sisters, Not Just Your Cis-Ters. We Love Planned Parenthood. ]

On February 11, over 800 people rallied at the intersection of Soquel and Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, and across the country, in response to nationwide “Defund Planned Parenthood” rallies. Animated speakers shared personal stories of receiving vital healthcare services from Planned Parenthood, often unaccessible anywhere else.

Demonstrators lined Pacific holding colorful homemade signs in support of fundamental rights to affordable healthcare and non-judgmental family planning, while also illustrating many of the horrendous atrocities which result from defunding Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, a dozen people congregated on Cedar Street, a block away from Pacific Avenue, in protest of Planned Parenthood. Organizers of the counter-protest requested for people to join them on Pacific Avenue and not engage with the Planned Parenthood protestors. However a group roughly the same size as the protestors said they were not engaging, but were determined to hold their ground and maintain a close presence. They said the rally on Pacific Avenue was too festive, and they did not show up for a celebration.

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Watsonville Vigil Remembers the Victims of Orlando

SOMOS LGBT vigil in Watsonville remembers “one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

[ Demonstrators send their love and solidarity from Watsonville, California to Orlando, Florida and the queer community everywhere. June 13, 2016. ]

SOMOS LGBT, a community organization raising awareness on equality and acceptance for all, began in Watsonville nine years ago. On the evening of June 13, SOMOS LGBT held a vigil at Watsonville Plaza to “remember one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

The day before on June 12, a mass shooting occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, resulting in 53 wounded and 50 dead, including the gunman, who was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

Community members from throughout Santa Cruz County gathered in Watsonville’s historic downtown Plaza to creatively express themselves through chants, singing, and holding signs to bring awareness of the continued attacks against LGBT people in this country.

Haley Brown of Santa Cruz held a sign reading “End Hate: racism • homophobia • transphobia • islamophobia.” Brown stated they stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the queer community everywhere.

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New Leaf Community Markets in Felton Honors Driscoll’s Boycott

New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, California takes a righteous step in support of the farmworkers who grow our food. In addition to pulling Driscoll’s berries from their shelves, the market is displaying a letter with an overview of the boycott.

[ New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, CA honors the boycott of Driscoll’s berries. Photos by Michael Gasser (@mapinduzi21k). May 3, 2016. Collage by Bradley Allen. ]

New Leaf Community Markets, purchased by New Seasons Market in 2013, is a grocery chain founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1985. The market currently has seven locations, and an Aptos store is expected to open in August 2017.

On May 2, 2016, New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, which operates with a franchise agreement under separate ownership, confirmed that they are not selling Driscoll’s berries. New Leaf Community Markets in Boulder Creek operates under separate ownership as well.

This comes as exciting news for the boycott Driscoll’s movement. New Leaf Community Markets in Felton is believed to be the first grocery store in Santa Cruz County to remove Driscoll’s berries from their shelves in honor of the boycott.

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Beach Flats Gardeners Demand City Council Keep Their Promise

The City of Santa Cruz promised to seek acquisition of the land for a permanent garden, instead they bulldozed 40% of the garden to facilitate Seaside Company’s agenda.

[ Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (left) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago, lead the march up Pacific Avenue and they cross Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. April 26, 2016. ]

Is the City of Santa Cruz Really Committed to the Beach Flats Neighborhood?

Gardeners and Supporters March on City Hall Demanding that Council Follow Through With Previous Commitment to Purchase Land

On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, “The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden.”

Students at UC Santa Cruz advocating for the gardeners and the garden declare, “It is time to turn up the heat! The city broke their agreements about protecting the garden, both in terms of space promised, and a bunch of trees and cactus that were demolished during Spring Break.”

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In Memory of Louis LaFortune, Compassionate Peace Activist

“Louis was a teacher who was fiercely dedicated to justice. He was always supportive and involved in our community work and campaigns.” -Jenn Laskin

[ Louis LaFortune, a volunteer with Guitars not Guns and many other causes, plays guitar at a peace rally on August 2, 2015 in front of the Collateral Damage statue in Santa Cruz to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Photo by Alex Darocy. ]

Louis LaFortune, known to many as Louie LaFortune, passed away unexpectedly on the morning of March 13, 2016 at his family home in Live Oak, a small community nestled between Santa Cruz and Capitola. Register-Pajaronian reports that he died in his home after suffering heart trouble. His family states that he passed quickly without pain or discomfort. Louis’s untimely passing, at the young age of 64, was a sad shock for his family and wide circle of friends.

Louie was a popular teacher at New School, a small high school for at-risk students in Watsonville. Before launching his second career as a teacher — the first was as an auto mechanic — he was a long-standing and dedicated member of the Free Radio Santa Cruz collective, also known as Freak Radio and FRSC.

In 2003, Louie created the Resistance and Renewal program on FRSC, a listener supported and unlicensed “pirate” radio station broadcasting from Santa Cruz since 1995. To the greater community, he was a major advocate of the station, however more importantly Louie often served as a mediator within the dynamic collective when disagreements arose or personalities conflicted.

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UC Santa Cruz Terminates Historic Stevenson Coffee House

“This is one of the cultural and intellectual hubs of the campus, and it’s impossible to quantify what the university would be losing by closing this space.” – Scott Ferreter of Sacramento

[ Lya Aghaseyedjavadi works the counter at Stevenson Coffee House. January 12, 2016. Photo by Raine Villa. ]

At UC Santa Cruz, a shift to UC Dining across campus is being perceived as part of a plan to privatize the UC. That’s according to a comment by Grace Shefcik on a petition called Save Stevenson Coffee House.

John Hadley, Manager of Stevenson Coffee House for over 30 years, typed a letter to patrons and taped it on the cafe informing them of the news.

“It is with great sadness, I must inform you that in June at the end of Spring Quarter, Stevenson Coffee House will be closing for good and my time as Manager will be ending too.” -John Hadley

The coffee house is a cultural institution whose history and significance extends beyond the university. Hadley explains, “Stevenson Coffee House is the oldest cafe on campus, over 40 plus years of service. When it opened, it was one of few places in Santa Cruz County to have an espresso machine.”

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Hundreds March for Beach Flats Community Garden

Gardeners seek a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Santa Cruz Beach Flats.

[ Photo: Marciano “Chango” Cruz (left) is a founder of the Beach Flats Community Garden. Cruz marches with Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (center) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago. ]

On February 9, hundreds of people marched through downtown Santa Cruz from the Beach Flats Community Garden to the city council meeting. Gardeners, along with a large coalition of supporters, are seeking a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Beach Flats.

Over the past year, the gardeners have asked for community support, and when 4,000 people signed a petition and 200 people showed up to a city council meeting last fall, the city agreed to attempt to negotiate a sale with the owners of the property, Seaside Company, who also own the Beach Boardwalk and much of the rest of the Beach Flats neighborhood.

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