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On December 13, community members in Santa Cruz joined people across the country for a national day of protest against police violence. The focus of the protests have primarily been on the police killings of three black individuals, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, which all came to national attention in 2014.
On the heels of nearly two weeks of protests in the East Bay spurred by the Ferguson grand jury decision, demonstrations escalated when the Eric Garner grand jury decision was announced on December 3 in New York City. Nightly since December 6, hundreds have taken to the streets of Berkeley to protest for justice, shutting down highways along the way, with marches reaching through Oakland and Emeryville as well. CHP and Berkeley police have responded aggressively, with hundreds of demonstrators arrested, beaten, and/or injured.
On December 9, the Santa Cruz City Council voted 6-1 to approve the purchase of a $250,000 armored emergency response and "rescue" vehicle. The proposed purchase was placed on the council's consent agenda and was announced with very little notice, but the public quickly mobilized to protest. In response to the city council’s vote, members of the public broke out into chants of, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and Mayor Lynn Robinson then had the chambers cleared by the police.
As expected, the grand jury tasked with determining if there was enough evidence for charging Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown determined that there wasn’t probable cause. That night, on November 24, people in Ferguson and across the country began to rise up for Mike Brown and blocked freeways, city streets, and more. Fires were set, merchandise taken from stores, and, on Black Friday, BART was disrupted in West Oakland and shopping centers shut down in San Francisco. Protests continued throughout the week, culminating on the annual Black Friday shopping day and continuing into the weekend.
On November 10, peace activists in Santa Cruz protested a book signing appearance by Leon Panetta, the one-time Secretary of Defense and CIA Director. Bookshop Santa Cruz hosted the event with a crowd of hundreds in attendance. By the end of the evening, five individuals were "banned for life" from Bookshop Santa Cruz, in retaliation for activities related to the evening's peaceful protest. Additionally, Panetta's security assaulted an Indybay journalist who was documenting the event.
On November 12, activists with the Bay Area Rasmea Defense Committee chained themselves to doors of the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland to protest the conviction and imprisonment of 67-year-old Palestinian community organizer Rasmea Odeh. Odeh was convicted on Monday, November 10th in a Detroit federal court of knowingly lying on her immigration application. Hundreds were present in court to support Odeh over the course of her trial in Detroit and across the country solidarity demonstrations have been held demanding that she be freed.
On November 8, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs shared food in solidarity with those who have been arrested for serving food in public in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Volunteers with Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs have been serving food continuously to the hungry and homeless at the same location, the Santa Cruz downtown post office, for several years now. An event announcement for the solidarity event stated, "No one should be arrested for helping the community. Sharing food is an unregulated act of compassion." Events have been held worldwide in support of those being arrested in Fort Lauderdale.