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Center Column Archives
On August 7th, a vigil was held at the Santa Cruz court house for Attorney Ed Frey, who was ordered to report to jail on August 8th to begin serving a six month sentence he received for his participation in the Peace Camp 2010 sleep ban protests. Community members occupied the court house steps for 15 hours until escorting Frey to jail, where he was fitted with an ankle bracelet security monitor.
An abandoned historic building in Oakland was unveiled on the morning of August 13th as the Victor Martinez Community Library. The building was one of seven library branch casualties of budget cuts in the late seventies, and since then it has mostly sat empty. On the first day of the re-opening, donations of books poured in and area children helped to start a community garden in a side lot. In less than 15 hours, however, OPD raided the Community Library. The next morning, activists re-opened the library on the sidewalk in front of the building and it has been growing since.
Richmond, California residents have long battled with the massive oil company Chevron which maintains a large refinery on the city's western edge. On August 6th, a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond sent huge plumes of smoke and toxic chemicals into the air and hundreds of residents to local hospitals. The next day, Urban Tilth held a press conference and protest at the Richmond Civic Center to hold Chevron accountable for the release of dangerous contaminants into the air, as well as the potential loss of thousands of pounds of food.
Residents of Santa Cruz County concerned about health, privacy, and the environment, as well as those who enjoy the beaches of the north coast free of cell towers and other industrial equipment, demonstrated in front of Verizon Wireless's retail store on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday, July 21st. The protest raised awareness of the company's plans, along with NextG corporation, to install six new cell sites along Highway 1 and Swanton Road in the county's remote north coast region.
The third annual Festival del Nopal took place in downtown Santa Cruz on Sunday July 22. The festival featured many local food vendors using nopal, or prickly pear cactus, in a variety of cuisine such as pupusas, huraches, salad, tlayudas, baked potatoes, fries, and tacos. The event, founded and coordinated by City Councilmember Tony Madrigal, celebrates the significance of the nopal in Mexican cuisine and showcases the plant's versatility and healing properties.
The Right to Vote on Desal Coalition's Charter Amendment initiative has secured a place on the November ballot. Voters will decide whether to amend the City Charter in order to guarantee that the people of Santa Cruz determine the future of desalination in the city. The City Charter can be amended only by a vote of the people, unlike an ordinance, which can be amended or repealed simply by a vote of the City Council.
Several hundred nurses demonstrated in front of the Alta Bates Medical Center which is operated by Sutter Health on July 3rd. The Berkeley hospital was one of seven Sutter hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area where nurses held a one-day strike. The strike was organized by the California Nurses Association (CNA) . The CNA is also holding a healthcare tour across the state with free medical screenings.