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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.
Students at UC Santa Cruz concluded four days of protests against tuition and fee increases with a campus-wide strike and shut down on March 5. Dubbed "96 Hours of Action," demonstrations were held March 2 to 5 at schools across California to highlight the relationship of racist mass incarceration to the privatization of education. Thousands of people in Santa Cruz were affected on March 3 when six students locked themselves together to block highway traffic.
hanna quevedo writes: We received eviction papers from our landlords, Ahuva, Emanuel, and Barak Jolish. Their legal documents aim to displace us from our affordable, eleven-year-old home, Station 40. It is no coincidence that Station 40 is being evicted on the same intersection as the proposed development by Maximus Real Estate Partners of a 350-unit luxury apartment building in what is a predominantly working-class neighborhood.
Early in the morning on February 26, sixty trees were cut down on the southern acreage of the Gill Tract. The UC’s move to begin clearing the way for their proposed housing and shopping complex came as a shock to farmers and neighbors, as there is an active lawsuit on appeal in the county courts, contesting the development’s detrimental environmental impact. Knowing the community would mobilize to defend the trees, the UC cut down the trees with lightening speed. The last trees were in the process of being destroyed at 9am, as farm supporters arrived.
A group of sixty graduate students led a teach-in and mediation at UC Berkeley’s School of Welfare on February 24 in response to racist comments made by tenured professor Steven Segal. The action was organized in support of twenty-five graduate students enrolled in Segal’s Mental Health Policy course. During class on February 10, Segal shared statistics citing Black-on-Black crime as the real cause of harm to the Black community. He then encouraged the class to join him in a rap, with lyrics that stated the movement “needed to stop scapegoating the cops.”
In October, a new law went into effect in the City of Monterey making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks in commercial districts. In response, activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk along Alvarado Street in Downtown Monterey on February 13, and they say they plan to make it a regular event. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) organized the demonstration because they believe the law targets individuals without homes, travelers, and the impoverished.
On February 7 an Oakland Police Department officer shot at — but missed — a man who was reportedly having a mental health crisis. Later that day, Oakland city officials bragged in a press release that OPD had not shot anybody for twenty months. However, in the last thirteen months five people have been shot and killed by law enforcement in Oakland, it just happens that they were not killed by members of the Oakland Police Department. Jacorey Calhoun was shot and killed by an Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy in August of last year.
Steve Schnaar writes: Nearly two years ago, a Santa Cruz police officer injured a homeless man who was already in handcuffs, slamming him face-first into the ground. Caught on video by a bystander, the incident got a lot of attention and the SCPD promised to do a formal investigation. However the results of that investigation have been kept secret, and meanwhile the offending officer is still on the job with no apparent consequences.
Yuvette Henderson was gunned down by Emeryville police officers Michelle Shepard and Warren Williams on February 3 within minutes of an incident at the Emeryville Home Depot about a block away. Concerned that Yuvette was killed because she was a Black woman, and that police agencies are involved in a massive cover-up, the Anti Police-Terror Project held a rally at Emeryville PD headquarters on February 21 before marching to the Home Depot, where activists used chains and lockboxes to shut the store down for most of the day.
FireWorks writes: In September of 2014, the City of Oakland began to make attempts to displace and remove people in public plazas in the wake of the WOSP (West Oakland Specific Plan) being passed. Then, in December, as the Ferguson inspired Bay Area uprising was raging, people armed with bolt-cutters took down the fences encircling the park to the cheers of those on the streets. Wanting to know more about the anti-gentrification struggle and how it connects to the battle against police and white supremacy, we caught up with long-time Oakland organizer and militant, Linda Grant.
Workers at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn held a two-day strike on February 20 and 21, prompting the hotel to close its restaurant, Aquarius. Cooks, Waiters, Bartenders, Bell Persons, Front Desk Clerks, Room Cleaners, Maintenance Workers, and all other employees refused to work, and picket lines were held in front of the hotel all day for both days of the strike. Workers approved the action after months of failed contract negotiations with owners, who have been expecting them to accept a three-year wage freeze.
On February 23, a group held a demonstration in support of Alix Tichelman, the person charged with involuntary manslaughter in regards to the death of Google X executive Forrest Hayes on November 23, 2013. Stop all witch hunts! writes: We demand an end to their misogynistic witch-hunt against Alix Tichelman...We offer our unconditional support to Alix Tichelman and hope more people begin to ask questions about this case.
Family, friends, and community supporters came together on February 14 for a candlelight vigil to honor 23-year-old Phillip Watkins, who was shot and killed by two officers with the San Jose Police Department on February 11. About one hundred people attended the vigil, and many spoke about what a positive person Phillip was, and how he changed their lives.
On February 8, the University of California Student Association, the independent official voice of 240,000 UC students, passed two advisory resolutions: Resolution Calling for the UC Regents to Divest from Corporations Violating Palestinian Human Rights and Resolution Toward Socially Responsible Investment at the University of California by an 9-1 vote, with 5 abstentions.
February 10 marked the fourth consecutive Santa Cruz City Council meeting where residents have protested the police purchase of a $250,000 BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) funded by two Department of Homeland Security grants. As with the previous protests, community members again rallied in the City Hall courtyard and entered the council meeting as a group to speak out against the purchase of the armored attack-style vehicle during the open communications period.
Solidarity Monterey writes: On February 22nd, 2014 a CSU Monterey Bay police officer arrived at a student’s apartment because the student was supposedly trying to commit suicide. Now that cop is likely going to be fired for not using excessive force; specifically, for not tasing the student. The details vary according to who recounts the story, and the whole thing has been complicated by a legal shitstorm between the CSUMB cop and their union on one side, and the city of Marina police department on the other.
Flowback fluid from fracked oil wells in California commonly contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity has found. Benzene levels over 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water were found in fracking flowback fluid tests dating back to April 2014 obtained and analyzed by the Center. Benzene in excess of federal limits was found in 320 tests, and chromium-6 was detected 118 times. Both chemicals can cause cancer.
Five transgender women of color have been violently killed within the first two months of 2015 in the United States. One murder locally has rattled the nerves of the local transgender community. On February 1, Taja Gabrielle de Jesus was stabbed repeatedly by an unknown assailant while walking down a street in the Bayview district in San Francisco. In response, approximately 200 people rallied on the steps of city hall for Transgender Tuesday on February 10.
On February 3, Yuvette Henderson was shot and killed by Emeryville police just inside of Oakland city limits. Nearly a hundred people turned out for a vigil for Yuvette Henderson that evening. On February 10, activists delivered printed questions for ExtraSpace Storage, where Yuvette was gunned down, and Home Depot, where Yuvette was accused of shoplifting and apparently some sort of altercation took place. A demand was issued for both the Emeryville and Oakland police departments to release surveillance video.
On February 7, thousands of people from across the state took to the streets of Oakland to call on Governor Jerry Brown to protect Californians from dangerous oil activities that harm the state's water, health and communities. The day before, on February 6, about seventy activists blockaded the entrances to the California State office building in San Francisco in support of a state-wide ban on fracking.
On February 6, at 8am, teachers at San Francisco's bilingual public Fairmount Elementary School joined with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project to block three private tech buses. Buses from Google and Facebook were blocked in protest of the takeover of what had been four parking spots for teachers at the school by a tech bus stop. Teachers had not been consulted before their parking stops were privatized, just this past month.

03/30/15 Black Brown Coalition Interrupts Business as Usual in Monterey County     police | santacruz
03/30/15 Groups Work to Restore Landscape with Milkweed in Response to Monarch Decline     environment | california
03/30/15 Students Say UC Regents are Unfit to Govern the University System     education | santacruz
03/28/15 Board of Supervisors Approves New Cannabis Prohibitions in Santa Cruz County     drugwar | santacruz
03/26/15 Statewide Actions To End Solitary Confinement to Continue on 23rd of Each Month     police | santacruz
03/25/15 Fire Ravages Long-Time Anarchist and Artist Warehouses on 23rd and 24th Streets in Oakland     poverty | labor | globalization | arts
03/24/15 Protesters Shut Down Sprouts Farmers Market to Stop Planned Development of Historic Gill Tract     environment | labor | globalization | education | northbay
03/18/15 UC Santa Cruz Students Charged for Blocking Highway also Face Student Judicial Action     education | santacruz
03/14/15 Medicine Lake is a Sacred Place and Needs to be Protected at All Costs, Tribal Chair Says     environment | centralvalley
03/12/15 Excessive Force Complaint Triggers External Review of SCPD Officers' Actions     police | santacruz
03/11/15 CA Protests Link Tuition Hikes and Privatization of Education to Expanding Police State     education | santacruz
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