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Tue Jul 20 2004 (Updated 01/25/09) Body Count
Rallies have been held around the world in opposition to Israel's recent air strikes on Gaza and the collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people living there and in the West Bank. In Northern California, demonstrations have been held in San Francisco, Salinas, and Santa Cruz. According to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), as of July 20, 460 Palestinians, including whole families, have been killed since July 8.
Greeting Tourists with Peace Signs on the Fourth of July Community members in Santa Cruz gathered once again along busy Ocean Street to greet this year's Independence Day beach tourists with a message of peace as they drove into town. The weather was warm and traffic was bumper to bumper as long-time anti-war activists lined the streets holding signs and greeting people. The rally is an annual event in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz area veterans were in attendance representing VFW Post 5888, and they held their large "Wage Peace" banner. The Raging Grannies sang, and members of Food Not Bombs Santa Cruz held their "three lane" banner, which is so wide it spans three lanes of traffic when stretched out fully. The rally was co-sponsored by People United for Peace of SC County, SC Coalition to Bring the Troops Home Now, CodePink SC, Santa Cruz Against Drones, the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Santa Cruz Quaker Meeting, Raging Grannies SC, Women in Black SC, SC Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Veterans for Peace SC, United Nations Association SC, and SC Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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Previous Coverage: 2013: On Independence Day, Santa Cruzans Demand Freedom from the Security State
Santa Cruz Community Vigil for Iraq and Iraqis In response to the recent threat of U.S. military attacks in Iraq, community members in Santa Cruz held a vigil for the Iraqi people on June 23 at the Town Clock. Those who participated in the vigil are calling for nonviolent diplomacy, reparation and repairs, no military intervention in Iraq, and an end to weapons sales in the Middle East. "We are sick and tired of violence being thought of as a way to prevent violence," Marjorie Langdon said at the vigil.

Langdon was one of a number of UC Santa Cruz students present at the vigil who were protesting the connection between the University of California system and war profiteering. "At UCSC we are supposed to be a very diverse, engaged, and active community, but being up there I realize that most students don't realize we are this involved," she said. "The UC system invests in bomb labs and is profiteering from going to war. The UC is getting money this way, and that's not OK."

Other supporters at the vigil included individuals from the Faith communities of Santa Cruz, WILPF SC, the Palestine-Israel Action Committee of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, and Jewish Voice for Peace SC. Organizers say they will be holding similar vigils at the Town Clock in support of the people of Iraq in the near future.

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Petition Demands OPD Be Prohibited from Using SIM & CS Blast Grenades on Crowds Scott Olsen's skull was shattered and part of his brain destroyed when an OPD officer shot him in the head with a Specialty Impact Munition (SIM) at a 2011 Occupy Oakland demonstration. As he lay critically injured on the pavement, an OPD officer threw a CS Blast grenade onto him — a teargas device that explodes with a flash of light and loud bang.

At least a dozen other people were injured by so-called "less lethal" weapons at the Occupy demonstrations, even though OPD's own policies and federal court orders specify that these weapons may not be fired into crowds. As a result, the City of Oakland has had to pay out more than $7 million in legal settlements to people who have suffered serious injuries from SIM or CS Blasts, including burns, hearing loss, fractures, crushed nerves and scarring.

A new petition demands that OPD be prohibited from using SIMs and CS Blast grenades at demonstrations and other crowd events. The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay.org) is supporting this petition. Indybay reporters are sick and tired of getting shot and gassed by OPD while covering protests in Oakland, a gross violation of freedom of the press and basic human rights.

photoRead More | videoCampaign Video | Sign the Petition

Previous Related Indybay Features: Oakland to Pay Big for OPD Shooting Scott Olsen in the Face | Costs of OPD's Violence Against Protesters Mount: Settlement in the Kayvan Sabeghi Beating | NLG Obtains $1.17M and OPD Reforms for Injured Occupy Oakland Protesters and Journalists | Oakland Occupiers Defiant After Police Raid, Mass Arrests, and Tear Gas/Projectile Attacks | March 7th Rally to Protest April 7, 2003 Police Attack at Docks | Oakland Rally Questions 2003 Attack on Protesters | Remember the Shots! Return to the Docks! | Port Of Oakland Shut Down: Police Fire Concussion Grenades and Wooden Bullets at Protesters and Dock Workers
One-Fifth of U.S. Foreign Aid Budget Goes to Israeli Military Community members gathered in downtown Santa Cruz on Tax Day, April 15, to protest the U.S. government's subsidy of $8 million a day in military aid to Israel. Tax Day is when federal income tax returns are due in the United States, and demonstrators held signs that indicated what the government should be spending citizens' hard earned dollars on, if the money wasn't wasted on military aid to Israel. They also held signs that read, "Apartheid: Wrong for South Africans, Wrong for Palestinians."

According to If Americans Knew, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976, and in the last 20 years economic aid to that country has been slowly phased out in favor of military aid. Israel receives about $3 billion ($8 million a day) directly from the United States in military financing each year, which is about one-fifth of what is allocated for the entire foreign aid budget.

photoRead More | If Americans Knew | Palestine-Israel Action Committee Santa Cruz
Corrected Billboard "Defends" Transparency at Guantanamo Bay On March 24, the California Department of Corrections (CDC), which practices culture jamming by "correcting" commercial advertisements, successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged a billboard in San Francisco, located at Oakdale Avenue between Bay Shore Boulevard and U.S. Highway 101. With larger-than-life lettering the billboard reads, PAIN ISN'T ALWAYS OBVIOUS. LEARN THE SIGNS AT GUANTANAMO BAY. Next to its massive headline the ad includes logos for a California mental health agency and the tagline KNOW THE SIGNS.

The ad was released from custody two weeks after a landmark lawsuit, Hassan v. Obama, was brought before U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to end force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay. Filed on behalf of Emad Abdullah Hassan, the lawsuit is the first case against forced-feeding since the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that federal courts can hear challenges by detainees to conditions of their confinement. Hassan is a Yemeni national who has been detained at Guantanamo Bay for twelve years despite being cleared for release in 2009. He has been on hunger strike since 2005 and has allegedly experienced over 5,000 forced-feedings, a practice that is violent, abusive and illegal, according to his lawsuit.

Although half of Guantanamo's inmate population has been cleared for release, 154 detainees are trapped in legal limbo at the U.S. naval base. Last year more than 100 Guantanamo detainees were on hunger strike demanding an end to their detention without trial. Currently, fewer than 40 people remain on hunger strike, 16 of whom are being forced-fed.

photoRead More | CorrectionsDepartment.org

Previous Related Indybay Features: "Corrected" Billboard Calls Out Corporate Tax Loopholes | Liberated Ads Confront San Francisco Eviction Crisis | Hollywoood Movie Billboard in SF Spoofed to "Honor" U.S. National Security Agency | SF Vigil in Solidarity with Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Culminates with Civil Disobedience | Orange Jumpsuit Protest in Palo Alto Marks Opening of Guantánamo 11 Years Ago | Bay Area Artists Modify Islam-Bashing Hate Speech Advertisements on SF MUNI Buses | 8th Year of Guantanamo Commemorated With Giant Posters in San Francisco | National Day of Protest: Close Guantanamo and End Torture | Bay Area Billboards "Study In Israel" Modified by Guerrilla Advertisers | Satirical Ads in Berkeley Poke Fun at Pro-Israel PR Efforts
Californians Vigilant in Opposition to War As the U.S. government marched towards war with Syria in late August, anti-war groups and activists across the state responded with two weeks of emergency demonstrations.

U.S. air and naval forces off the Syrian coast are ready to launch missile and air strikes at any time, and Britain and France, the former colonizers of the region, are set to join in the assault. Activists say the U.S. is taking a page from the second Iraq War playbook, and is once again using WMDs as justification for an attack; this time against forces loyal to Assad without unequivocal evidence of who is responsible. Groups say the U.S. is entering a war without a coherent plan or clear objectives, which can only lead to a disaster in which the primary victims will be the sons and daughters of Syria.

The ANSWER Coalition organized a series of protests, and actions were planned for the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer. Events were also held at well known anti-war protest locations such as Peace Crossroads in San Jose and on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.

Fresno: videoNo Attack on Syria!

San Francsico: San Francisco: Hands off Syria! | audioAnti-War Rally against proposed attack on Syria

San Jose: imc_photo.gifNo War on Syria Demonstration at Peace Crossroads in San José

Santa Cruz: imc_photo.gifSanta Cruz Protest Against U.S. War in Syria
Fifth Canaan Protest Village Built on Annexed Palestinian Land On July 27, the Canaan protest village was built for the fifth time on annexed Palestinian land in the middle of the illegal Gosh Ezion Colonial block next to the illegal settler colony of Migdal Oz. The nonviolent protesters stayed in the tent on their land for around an hour and a half before the Israeli occupation soldiers tore it down, violently repressing the demonstration.

The tent village was built to remember the right of Palestinians to their land and to express solidarity with hunger strikers imprisoned for fighting for the Palestinian struggle. In statements, Palestinians taking part in the tent village have expressed their general support for negotiations to end the occupation, but condemned the current round of false negotiations that have been going on for years while Israel continues to build colonies and colonize Palestinian land.

There have been four previous incarnations of the Canaan village, all of which have reclaimed Palestinian land while protesting the illegal colonial annexation. The previous tent villages have been built by the South West Bank Popular Committee in the south of the West Bank and have all been violently dismantled by the Israeli occupation military, with arrests of nonviolent demonstrators.

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Corrected Billboard Applauds NSA Prior to Congressional Vote On July 23, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) "apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged" a billboard at Bayshore Boulevard near Sunnydale Avenue in San Francisco. The CDC released the corrected ad one day before a U.S. House of Representatives vote that would have curtailed the agency’s surveillance inside the United States, extensive domestic spying programs first brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 7, 2013.

The CDC writes: Following the unauthorized release of information by its former contractor, Edward Snowden, the NSA has faced an unprecedented wave of public scrutiny. On July 24th the U.S. House of Representatives voted on an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would have eliminated funding for the agency’s phone data collection. Narrowly defeated by a margin of 205 to 217, the amendment was attached to a $598 billion defense spending bill for 2014. In addition, news organizations have released daily coverage of Snowden’s leaked documents, and nineteen civilian groups have filed a lawsuit against the NSA, alleging that the massive collection of phone data violates their right of association. In the midst of this public attention, the CDC initiated its billboard campaign to call for additional support for the NSA.

photoRead More | CorrectionsDepartment.org

See Also: America and Germany: Longstanding Espionage Partners | Snowden and Latin America Expose Washington’s Impotence in a Changing World | America's Surveillance Society | Snowden in Russia | Lawlessness Is Official US Policy | Snowden's Asylum Quest | Obama Blocks Snowden's Asylum | photoConfronting Uncle Sam at Rally for Rights | audioStatement from Edward Snowden July 12, 2013 | calendarMovie: War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State | Venezuela Grants Snowden Amnesty | calendarWhistleblowers Speak Out | London's Guardian: Out in Front Exposing Lawless NSA Spying | Restore the Fourth Campaign Organizes Protests Against Unconstitutional Surveillance | Hands Off Snowden Campaign | Quelle Surprise: NSA Spies on Europe | Whistleblower Russell Tice Tells More | BIG BROTHER? | America: Government by Terror, Torture and Tyranny | More Evidence of Lawless US Spying | Snowden: Shooting the Messenger | Challenging US Lawlessness | Snowden on the Move | America: Police State Ruthlessness Writ Large | calendarWe DO NOT Consent! No Government Spying on Whole Populations | Where did Edward Snowden disappear? | Washington v. Edward Snowden Update | Edward Snowden Charged Under the Espionage Act | Obama: The Worst of Nixon/Bush II Writ Large | Big Brother Writ Large in America | Lawless NSA Global Spying | NSA Chief Lies to Congress | calendarTruth has Consequences | calendarEdward Snowden Support Rally; Jail Diane Feinstein | America's National Security State | calendarCODEPINK NSA Team Surveils DiFi's House | Whistleblowing: Exemplary Patriotism | Police State America in Good Hands with James Comey | Mass Surveillance in America | Unconstitutional US Data-Mining | Obama Wants Whistleblowers Silenced
Breaking Into the Israeli Tunnel Military Checkpoint On the morning of June 22, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched to the Israeli occupation military checkpoint blocking the West Bank from Jerusalem. There they were stopped by soldiers who violently prevented them from passing through. In reaction, the Palestinian activists prayed at the checkpoint, demonstrating their right to both freedom of movement within their own land, and freedom to worship in Jerusalem. Following the prayer, the activists stated that they were leaving, but that they would return soon and that the next time they prayed it would be in Jerusalem.

This demonstration aimed to highlight the human rights abuses that the Palestinian people are subjected to every day because of the occupation. Restriction of movement is widespread across the West Bank, with permission from the Israeli occupation authorities demanded of Palestinians in order to travel within their own land. This permission is granted very rarely, and usually excludes people aged 18-45.

In Islam and Christianity, Jerusalem is one of the primary religious sites. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” This human right is blatantly denied through acts committed by the Israeli occupation authorities and military every day.

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Demanding Freedom from the Security State on the Fourth of July At this year's Fourth of July anti-war demonstration in Santa Cruz, community members called for the release of all political prisoners, including Bradley Manning, Lynne Stewart, and Edward Snowden. The event is held annually at the corner of Ocean and Water Street, and the throng of holiday traffic rolling by slowly, bumper to bumper, was greeted this year with protest signs bearing messages of opposition to the expansion of security culture in the United Sates.

Organizers created a series of themed protest signs inscribed with messages correlating the reduced liberties of Americans domestically to corporate rule, and the deadly wars the United States is involved with abroad. Local activists also displayed their collection of placards containing the names and ages of over one hundred children killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Listed on another sign was an overall estimate for the civilian death count from drones in Pakistan. That number of named individuals identified "so far" is 317.

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39th Santa Cruz Pride Parade: Free Bradley Manning! On Sunday, June 2, thousands of people lined Pacific Avenue for the 39th annual Santa Cruz Pride parade and festival presented by the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz. A wide range of organizations participated in the parade, including a contingent raising awareness and support for political prisoner Bradley Manning. Manning is openly gay and has participated in Pride marches and campaigned against the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” restrictions on gay military personnel.

The Bradley Manning Support Network writes, "Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Bradley Manning, a 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst, who released the Collateral Murder video that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Manning also shared documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed by these documents, PFC Bradley Manning should be given a medal of honor."

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Previous Coverage:
Santa Cruz Pride 2012: Life Gets Better Together
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7:30PM Wednesday Jul 23 Untold History of the United States
3PM Sunday Jul 27 LMNOP Weekly Peace Walk
2PM Tuesday Aug 5 Peace Camp
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