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Center Column Archives
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”