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Yannidies Brown writes: Today, August 21, 2014, I, Yannidies Brown, have just not only witnessed, but experienced, police brutality. It started roughly at about nine o'clock in the morning when my brother Rogiers Brown, my fiance Christopher Wuerfel, and I were at an empty parking lot waiting on a ride. An SCPD officer, Bradly Barnett, approached my brother Rogiers telling him that he needs to "get the fuck out of the parking lot" and "I'm going to write you a ticket."
On August 21, Santa Cruz activists picketed outside of a talk at Temple Beth El about Israel and Gaza, given by Dr. Andy David, Israel's Consul General for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. The topic of the talk was "Operation Protective Edge," Israel's name for their most recent military assault on Gaza, which began on July 8 and has killed thousands of Palestinians. To greet those entering the talk, a series of large signs with the names of those killed in the war was displayed near the temple's entrance, and individuals held a large banner on Soquel Drive that read "Sick of Gaza Massacre?"
On August 17, the Direct Action Monterey Network joined a group of residents in Salinas at a demonstration against police violence. Four unarmed Latino men have been killed by Salinas police since March. Although the event was intended to be a community forum, the Cesar Chavez Public Library refused to let the group use their facilities. The gathering was interrupted when someone came over to tell the group that a man was being arrested across the street, but cops were prevented from arresting him by the newly formed local Cop Watch.
A rally and march in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo. was held in downtown Santa Cruz on August 17. On August 9, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses. Michael was reportedly unarmed and holding his hands up while attempting to surrender, saying "don't shoot" when he was gunned down. Since that time, protests in support of justice for the Missouri teenager have erupted all over the world.
A demonstration to protest U.S. involvement in Israel's attacks on Gaza was held on August 14 outside of a fundraiser for Congress Member Sam Farr in Santa Cruz. On August 1 Farr voted, along with most of the House of Representatives, to give Israel an additional $200 million this year to fund their "Iron Dome" missile defense system. One sign held outside of the fundraiser asked, "Where is the Iron Dome for Gaza?"
At its board meeting on June 30, ACLU Santa Cruz County adopted a statement of principle in support of a proposed moratorium on camping ban laws and ordinances within the City and County of Santa Cruz. Proponents argued that criminalizing homelessness, and particularly the essential right to sleep, is a failed policy. It is the intention of the Board that the statement be read publicly before both the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council at their next meetings.
On August 4, activists in downtown Santa Cruz staged a second die-in as part of their ongoing protest of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Like the July 28 die-in, a rally was held first at the Town Clock, where many of the names and ages of Palestinians killed were displayed on name cards. Community members then marched to the Cooper House on Pacific Avenue where the die-in was staged. Individuals laid down on the sidewalk and their bodies were outlined in chalk as organizers read the names and ages of Palestinian children killed since the war began on July 8.