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Center Column Archives
Founding member of the First Friday Oakland Art Murmur, Rock Paper Scissors Collective writes:
With a little volunteer elbow-grease and fundraising effort, the Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPSC) was born — a destination where the community could come together, organize, share skills, knowledge and create. Now, we are being forced out of our space. The Collective’s long time landlord plans to charge market value for the space, well beyond what we can afford as an all-volunteer run nonprofit. As of August 31st, RPS will be without a home.
On July 14, three of the remaining Santa Cruz Eleven defendants agreed to a plea deal with the prosecution, and the last remaining member of the group followed suit at his hearing on July 22, bringing to a close the Occupy-era case that has been slowly moving along since 2011. Defendants entered pleas of “no contest” to a charge of misdemeanor trespass. The felony vandalism charge was dropped.
On July 4, community members in Santa Cruz held a public campout at Santa Cruz City Hall, but it was quickly cut short by police at about 1am. The campout was organized in response to the recent reduction of services at the Homeless Services Center that occurred due to a funding deficit, as well as to protest local laws that criminalize sleeping outdoors. At least eight individuals were issued infraction citations for refusing to leave City Hall.
In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report: "Medical Services at the Jails: How Does the Sheriff Coroner Manage Oversight?" Since 2012, Santa Cruz County has outsourced its jail medical services to the private for-profit corporation California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG). The Grand Jury has found that there is, "a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of CFMG and there is insufficient oversight by the Sheriff Coroner’s office."
The Homeless Services Center announced in June that due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, they were laying off workers and a large portion of the services they offer would most likely be eliminated if alternative funding was not found. Shortly after the announcement, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released a new report titled: Recipe for Failure: Shrinking Budgets and Increasing Needs for Emergency Homeless Shelters.
On May 24, the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs was marked with a six hour party in Santa Cruz. Those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services. By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry.
On May 23, families and loved ones of people in solitary confinement, and advocates from community organizations, held the third Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California. In Santa Cruz, about 25 people rallied at the entrance to the Municipal Wharf, where locals and tourists found two large banners, storyboards exposing the realities of solitary confinement, signs, and educational literature about solitary confinement in Santa Cruz and California.