Unpermitted Blue Boxes Appear Overnight on Pacific Avenue

An unpermitted blue box at the corner of Pacific and Soquel Avenues is marked with spray paint.

On August 24, 2015, things were just a little bit different as the day began on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. Most people, including locals, didn’t notice that the number of “blue boxes” painted onto the sidewalk had grown dramatically overnight. The “blue boxes”, which are actually rectangles, are supposed to represent designated areas of the sidewalk where artisans and people living on the streets will not be harassed and ticketed for displaying their artwork, artistic performance, or panhandling.

The action of painting blue boxes comes on the heels of two well-known artists, Joff Jones and Alex Skeleton, being arrested by Santa Cruz Police on August 20 for displaying art in front of Forever 21 which, as of recently, is not allowed since the boxes there were removed. A few days later on Sunday, the artists defiantly returned to the sidewalk in front of Forever 21 dressed in Colonial attire with displays of their artwork and a painting of the First Amendment. They were not arrested a second time.

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New Cannabis Prohibitions in Santa Cruz County

On March 24, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 before an overflowing room to ban the cultivation of cannabis in all unincorporated territories of the county, with limited exceptions. Personal grows of 10×10 square feet are still permitted, with restrictions. Outdoor cultivation is entirely banned in the 2nd District, represented by Zach Friend, and includes the communities of Aptos, Corralitos, Freedom, and portions of Watsonville.

The vote amended the Santa Cruz County Code by deleting the existing Chapter 7.126, passed on February 11, 2014, in its entirety, and adding a new Chapter 7.126. The new version of the code drastically reduces the legal rights of patients to cultivate and access the wide-range of medicines they depend upon from the cannabis plant.

Download and Read Exhibit A (7 pages)

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Hundreds March for Freedom at Cages Kill Rally in Santa Cruz

At least 6 people have died in the Santa Cruz County Jail since August 2012 while in the hands of the Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG).

At least 6 people have died in the Santa Cruz County Jail since August 2012 while in the hands of the Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG). In light of the most recent death in November 2014, community-based organization Sin Barras, which fights to abolish prisons and the prison industrial-complex, held a demonstration on January 24, 2015 in downtown Santa Cruz.

Hundreds of people came together to protest and raise awareness around the deaths, to highlight the broader context of overcrowding and lack of healthcare inside California jails and prisons, and create a space for community empowerment.

Speakers, including Fox Sloan, mother of Amanda Fox Sloan, who died in the jail July of 2013, shared personal stories which shed light on the violence of the prison system and strategies for building alternative forms of justice.

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Paula Gregoire: Save Paula’s Cottage

The circumstances faced by Paula and Isabella — homelessness and couch surfing — resonate with thousands of people struggling to pay rent and survive

On September 9, 2014, Paula Gregoire, her mother also named Paula, and her daughter Isabella, spoke before the Santa Cruz City Council against the city’s inhumane rental inspection program. The cruel and invasive ordinance was pushed through in August 2010 in a 5-1 vote by the gentrifying forces of the Santa Cruz City Council with pressure and backing from UC Santa Cruz.

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Rally in Santa Cruz for California Hunger Strike Anniversary

We must carry forward the fight of the courageous prison hunger strikers until long-term solitary confinement is abolished.

Text via Sin Barras
Photos by Bradley Allen

On July 8, 2014, allies across the state participated in rolling hunger strikes and held local actions. In Santa Cruz, we gathered at the intersection of Water & Pacific Ave. to make these struggles against torture and criminalization visible!

July 8, 2013 is a day we remember to never forget the torture the state of California willingly inflicts on human lives. On that day, 30,000 prisoners followed the lead of their fellow prisoners locked in solitary confinement and refused to eat. By one account, close to 100 people went without eating for 59 days before agreeing to eat in exchange for serious concessions from the California Department of Corrections.

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