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Sheriff Jim Hart is making an 'emergency requisition' to install and iron fence in order to close off the area of the Santa Cruz County Main Jail's parking lot that is most commonly used by community members for public assembly and political demonstrations. Hart has specifically stated that recent political demonstrations held at the jail are the reason for building the new fence. In response, activists are calling for the community to pack the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 21 when the proposal will be voted on.
On April 14, the Salinas City Council voted to approve the purchase of enough body cameras to outfit every officer in the Salinas Police Department. On April 9, the Capitola City Council unanimously voted to approve a request from their police department to use $100,501.31 in Supplemental Law Enforcement State Funds (SLESF) to purchase a dual video system for police vehicles and body cameras. Organizations such as the NLG caution that there are many unresolved legal and civil rights issues regarding the police use of Personal Digital Recording Devices (PDRDs).
On April 13, a group gathered at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse in support of Alix Tichelman, the woman charged with killing a Google executive named Forrest Hayes in 2013. Dozens of pamphlets were handed out in front of the courthouse detailing the case against Alix. Her parents personally thanked the group for their presence. Free Alix! writes: She is being unfairly railroaded into jail for an accident that was not her fault.
According to the environmental group EcoRights, polluted industrial drainage water is entering into Elkhorn Slough from the Pick-n-Pull auto-wrecking yard in Moss Landing. In response, the group has initiated a petition calling on the County of Monterey to require a Environmental Impacts analysis, and to require the business to relocate if it cannot operate without polluting the Slough and harming resident species.
The annual Walk to Stop the Silence was launched nine years ago in order to break through the silence surrounding the issue of sexual abuse and provide a healing space for survivors. The event is always well-attended, but this year, on April 11, the crowd was noticeably packed with families and young people whose energy led the walk with chants such as, "Walk to Stop the Silence!" and "Sí se puede!"
In response to a 2012 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on April 9 that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for the western pond turtle. The agency will now conduct a one-year status review on the turtle, which faces declines of up to 99 percent in some areas. “Threats like habitat destruction from urbanization and agriculture are driving western pond turtles toward extinction,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and lawyer.
On April 14, a call to end business as usual to stop police killings brought demonstrations and protests from coast to coast. In San Francisco protesters took to the streets in La Mission and on the steps of City Hall. At least two hundred protesters went to City Hall and disrupted the Board of Supervisors meeting, chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police." Simultaneous actions took place in Oakland and Stockton, too.
As soon as April 16, the East Bay Zoological Society can begin sectioning off the combined seventy-seven acre “California Trail” and mitigation sites from public access behind an 8-foot chain-link barbed wire fence. On March 27, fifty people assembled to inaugurate a direct action campaign against the “California Trail” project that would expand the Oakland Zoo into the undeveloped 400-acre region known as Huchiun to Ohlone people, commonly referred to as Knowland Park.
The six UCSC students arrested in association with the March 3 blockade of Highway 1 where it meets Highway 17 in Santa Cruz returned to court on April 8. A prosecutor indicated the District Attorney's office will not offer them a plea deal to reduce misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and creating a public nuisance. The Santa Cruz DA also desires a restitution amount of $19,000 be paid. Additionally, UCSC has suspended the students until the Spring of 2016.
A new report released by Californians for Pesticide Reform asserts that fumigant pesticides are an outdated, toxic technology that undermines soil health, and safe replacements are needed to grow food on the Central Coast of California. The report examines data that revealed cancer-causing chloropicrin is in the air where Monterey County children live and play, and shares monitoring results that confirm chloropicrin in the city of Watsonville’s air poses an increased cancer risk, despite state required “safer tarps” and "buffer zones".
Afrika Town is a community garden in what was long a vacant lot in Oakland next to the Qilombo social center. On March 26, the landowner came with a bulldozer to raze the garden, backed up by Oakland police officers. Activists quickly gathered and were able to convince the landowner to return a week later. On April 3, dozens of community members turned out to defend the garden. The owner backed down, giving Afrika Town the opportunity to buy the land. Afrika Town is now in dire need of funds to survive.
On March 30, Mumia Abu-Jamal collapsed in the prison infirmary at SCI Mahanoy from diabetic shock before being hospitalized in the ICU at Schuylkill Medical Center. Despite his serious condition, he was transferred back to the prison just two days later. The National Lawyers Guild is calling for immediate and independent medical attention for him, and on Friday, April 10, community members in Oakland will participate in a National Day to "Stand Up for Mumia" at the Federal Building.
The only oil company to sue San Benito County over a local ban on fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations announced on April 6 it has dropped its lawsuit, leaving the voter-approved ordinance in place. Citadel Exploration’s decision to dismiss its own case means that local fracking bans in California face no remaining active legal challenges, despite threats from the oil industry.
Community members opposing the City of Monterey's new sit-lie ban held their third sit-in on Alvarado Street on April 3. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) and other supporters returned to the same location of the previous two demonstrations and faced increased pressure from business owners, who expressed more aggressively their desire for the group to either move the location of their gathering, or leave the downtown area altogether and stop protesting.
Holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” activists formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day. Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including ”We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and “¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente.” The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.
On the grassy lawn in front of Hewlett Packard headquarters, demonstrators held a "virtual" meeting dubbed "The People's Shareholders Meeting" on March 18. Board members in silk-screened HP insignia ties joined a Meg Whitman character in blonde wig. CEO Whitman fielded questions about the company's complicity in Israel's oppression of Palestine from a group on lawn chairs portraying shareholders. Testifiers, including two Israeli citizens, spoke to the shareholders from a mock podium.
On March 28 in Monterey, about 75 people joined a broad coalition of activists in a rally and march starting at the Monterey Wharf to protest white supremacist police brutality in Salinas and nationwide. Thirty protesters marched to Highway One, blocked all four southbound lanes, and closed the highway for 45 minutes. Eight people in total were arrested. The action was organized in the context of the killing of five unarmed Latino men since March 2014 by white Salinas police officers: Angel Ruiz; Osman Hernandez; Carlos Mejia; Frank Alvarado, Jr.; and Jaime Garcia.
As community members mark the one-year anniversary of the police killing of Alex Nieto, none of the four San Francisco police officers involved in Alex’s death face any charges. In response, Stop Police Impunity held a peoples’ court in front of the SFPD's Mission District station on March 23. This trial complete with a peoples’ judge, jury, and prosecutor found all four officers guilty. Demonstrators locked themselves together, and the entire block of Valencia in front of the police station was blocked for four hours.
A newly completed assessment has found that monarch butterflies in North America are vulnerable to extinction. The assessment was undertaken by NatureServe and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and results were published in a report released by the U.S. Forest Service on March 9. “The time is now to intensify continent-wide efforts to reduce the threats to this iconic species and prevent it from succumbing to the fate that has befallen far too many other species,” said Bruce Young, NatureServe’s Director of Species Science.
Autonomous Students UCSC write: Before dawn on March 3, a group of six students at the University of California Santa Cruz went to the fishhook connecting Highways 1 to 17. Evoking the practice of highway blockades popularized during the Black Lives Matter movement, they chained themselves to aluminum trashcans filled with cement and blocked traffic for nearly five hours. The traffic jam this caused stretched over the hill to snarl Silicon Valley commutes, an act of peaceful civil disobedience that has since become the most controversial of the “96 Hours of Action” declared across the UC system for the first week of March, in protest against tuition hikes and police violence.
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.
On March 23, coordinated actions were held statewide in California to oppose the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. Protests were planned for Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. In Santa Cruz, community members gathered on West Cliff Drive for a rally and candlelight vigil. Organizers say future actions will continue to be held statewide on the 23rd of each month to symbolize the 23 hours per day prisoners in solitary are held in the "complete isolation" of their cells.
Before dawn on March 21, a fire erupted in a warehouse on 24th Street in Oakland. Two resident artists died. The fire quickly spread to the adjoining warehouse on 23rd Street commonly known as the AK Press warehouse. On the AK side, three residential units sustained severe damage, at least one being totally destroyed, with a beloved cat succumbing to the smoke and heat. Other units have borne varying degrees of damage. Businesses on the first floor are struggling with major water damage. Even worse, with both warehouses now red-tagged by the city, residents and businesses are not allowed inside either building, leaving dozens homeless. A new relief fund has been created that will be evenly split three ways between AK Press, 1984 Printing, and affected neighbors.
On March 14, farmers and neighbors of the Gill Tract turned out to disrupt business as usual at a local Sprouts supermarket. Activists, a brass band, and a large delegation of workers from the Fast Food Workers Union converged on Sprouts in Walnut Creek, holding a sit-in to block the main entrance to the store and rallying around a 600-pound stump that had been recently cut down by contractors preparing for the construction of Sprouts at the Gill Tract. One week later, Sprouts management sent protestors legal documents suggesting that the parking lot in front of their Petaluma store was not a "free speech" zone.
Supporters packed a Santa Cruz courtroom on March 17 for preliminary hearings concerning the six UCSC students who were arrested for blocking traffic on Highway 17 on March 3 to protest tuition increases. The hearing was the first time all six of those arrested have appeared together in court, and they all have legal representation now. None have pleaded guilty to the charges they face, which include misdemeanors for "resisting arrest" and creating a "public nuisance."
On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah," an area that has been used for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.
A video has surfaced of Santa Cruz Police hitting and tasing Oliver Howard in front of the Court House on October 13, in what multiple witnesses called excessive force at the time. The woman who recorded the video can be heard saying, "I hate cops" and "this is so fucked up" as the events unfolded. After the violent takedown by officers, Howard was taken directly to the hospital. He was never booked into jail and apparently was never charged with any crime. Since that time, a witness complaint with Santa Cruz PD has triggered an external review.
Amilcar Perez-Lopez was a 21-year-old man from Guatemala, living and working in the Mission District. Amilcar and his household were facing eviction at the end of March. On February 26, plain clothes SFPD officers Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli shot and killed Amilcar. Police have stated he was in the process of stealing a bicycle, but that claim is called into question by a number of witnesses, some who say the cyclist had stolen Amilcar's phone. Witnesses have reported being intimidated and bullied by SFPD since Amilcar's murder.

04/20/15 Park Service Considering Ranch Plan to Remove Free-Roaming Tule Elk Herds     northbay | animalliberation
04/19/15 Gill Tract, Occupy the Farm Activists Continue Campaign to Stop Sprouts from Paving Land     environment | labor | education | northbay
04/19/15 Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Marin Workers, Unions, and Allies Demand $15 Minimum Wage     labor
04/18/15 Sheriff Hart Requests $47,925 to Fence Out Protesters from Santa Cruz County Jail     police | santacruz
04/18/15 Community Members Reach Out to Those Victimized by Childhood Sexual Abuse     poverty | santacruz
04/18/15 Salinas and Capitola Police to Equip Entire Departments with Body Cameras     police | santacruz
04/18/15 Group Says Auto-Wrecking Yard Should Relocate if it Can't Stop Polluting Marshlands     environment | santacruz
04/18/15 Report Back From Alix Tichelman Court Support Demonstration     womyn | santacruz
04/18/15 New Research Reveals Western Pond Turtle Is At Least Two Distinct Species     environment | california
04/16/15 "California Trail" Oakland Zoo Expansion into Huchiun/Knowland Park Protested     environment
04/15/15 April 14 Action to Stop Police Violence Disrupts SF Supervisors Meeting     police
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Workers And Community Speakout In SF For Workers Killed & Injured On The Job, Sewol Victim Injured Workers National Network IWNN
Monday Apr 20th 3:25 PM
3 #FightFor15 Protests in 1 Day, Featuring Robert Reich Peter Menchini
Monday Apr 20th 2:15 PM
OPD to Reveal Surveillance Video to Yuvette Henderson's Family After Community Pressure Anti Police-Terror Project (1 comment)
Monday Apr 20th 1:26 PM
Driscoll’s Berry Boycott and Labor Dispute Intensifies via Fair World Project
Monday Apr 20th 12:36 PM
Alleging Labor Abuses, U.S. and Mexican Workers Call for Boycott of Driscoll’s Berries via Rachel Luban, In These Times
Monday Apr 20th 11:54 AM
Berkeley demonstration for $15 at site of 60’s Free Speech Movement Marilyn Bechtel, People's World (1 comment)
Sunday Apr 19th 6:13 PM
Lawsuit Targets 30-year Plan for Marine Terminal Receiving Ships Full of Dangerous Crude Center for Biological Diversity
Saturday Apr 18th 5:30 PM
No New Fence Around the Jail! - Pack the Board of Supes Sin Barras (2 comments)
Saturday Apr 18th 1:30 PM
Activists protest Sprouts Grand Opening Kelly Johnson
Friday Apr 17th 8:55 PM
The fight for $15 takes Oakland by Storm Kelly Johnson
Friday Apr 17th 8:16 PM
Commission approves fishing closure on Sacramento River section Dan Bacher (1 comment)
Friday Apr 17th 7:43 PM
Walk to Stop the Silence Draws Hundreds in Watsonville Courtney Hanson
Friday Apr 17th 6:16 PM
San Francisco Nonprofit Conard House Targeted For Abusing Tenants Michael Steinberg
Friday Apr 17th 12:29 AM
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Saturday Apr 18th 5:49 PM
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Thursday Apr 16th 10:16 PM
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Saturday Apr 18th 11:05 AM
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Thursday Apr 16th 7:10 PM
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