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Center Column Archives
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.