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Center Column Archives
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.
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.
Workers at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn held a two-day strike on February 20 and 21, prompting the hotel to close its restaurant, Aquarius. Cooks, Waiters, Bartenders, Bell Persons, Front Desk Clerks, Room Cleaners, Maintenance Workers, and all other employees refused to work, and picket lines were held in front of the hotel all day for both days of the strike. Workers approved the action after months of failed contract negotiations with owners, who have been expecting them to accept a three-year wage freeze.
Solidarity Monterey writes:
On February 22nd, 2014 a CSU Monterey Bay police officer arrived at a student’s apartment because the student was supposedly trying to commit suicide. Now that cop is likely going to be fired for not using excessive force; specifically, for not tasing the student. The details vary according to who recounts the story, and the whole thing has been complicated by a legal shitstorm between the CSUMB cop and their union on one side, and the city of Marina police department on the other.
On January 14, California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced new “recommended restrictions” on the use of chloropicrin, a cancer-causing pesticide used widely on California strawberries. Health, environmental and rural advocates say that DPR ignored its own scientists in developing the proposal, and that the recommended restrictions fall far short of protecting schoolchildren and rural residents from harmful exposures to the toxic pesticide.
In Oakland, hundreds of people from more than two dozen groupings organized in response to the Anti Police-Terror Project’s call to come together for ninety-six hours of direct action over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. The first action announced was a protest inside Montgomery BART station in San Francisco at 7am on Friday. The weekend’s events culminated in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, January 19. Other groups organized more MLK-related events in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and throughout Northern California.