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In October, a new law went into effect in the City of Monterey making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks in commercial districts. In response, activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk along Alvarado Street in Downtown Monterey on February 13, and they say they plan to make it a regular event. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) organized the demonstration because they believe the law targets individuals without homes, travelers, and the impoverished.
Steve Schnaar writes: Nearly two years ago, a Santa Cruz police officer injured a homeless man who was already in handcuffs, slamming him face-first into the ground. Caught on video by a bystander, the incident got a lot of attention and the SCPD promised to do a formal investigation. However the results of that investigation have been kept secret, and meanwhile the offending officer is still on the job with no apparent consequences.
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.
On February 23, a group held a demonstration in support of Alix Tichelman, the person charged with involuntary manslaughter in regards to the death of Google X executive Forrest Hayes on November 23, 2013. Stop all witch hunts! writes: We demand an end to their misogynistic witch-hunt against Alix Tichelman...We offer our unconditional support to Alix Tichelman and hope more people begin to ask questions about this case.
February 10 marked the fourth consecutive Santa Cruz City Council meeting where residents have protested the police purchase of a $250,000 BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) funded by two Department of Homeland Security grants. As with the previous protests, community members again rallied in the City Hall courtyard and entered the council meeting as a group to speak out against the purchase of the armored attack-style vehicle during the open communications period.
On February 8, the University of California Student Association, the independent official voice of 240,000 UC students, passed two advisory resolutions: Resolution Calling for the UC Regents to Divest from Corporations Violating Palestinian Human Rights and Resolution Toward Socially Responsible Investment at the University of California by an 9-1 vote, with 5 abstentions.
Flowback fluid from fracked oil wells in California commonly contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity has found. Benzene levels over 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water were found in fracking flowback fluid tests dating back to April 2014 obtained and analyzed by the Center. Benzene in excess of federal limits was found in 320 tests, and chromium-6 was detected 118 times. Both chemicals can cause cancer.