Community members in San Benito are hoping they will be the first "frontline" county in California to ban fracking and other methods of extreme oil and gas extraction. Since late March, volunteers across the county have begun collecting signatures for a fracking ban initiative they hope to have on the ballot in November. Progress is moving quickly; after two weeks of collecting signatures, the organization San Benito Rising announced they were nearly halfway through their drive.
Homeless activist Robert Norse was removed by police from the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on April 1 when he attempted to record the public session in the same manner he has for many years. Long time council member, and first time mayor, Lynn Robinson decided that evening Norse would be arrested and cited for disrupting the meeting when he twice attempted to leave his recording device "unattended" in the area of the room where he thought he could create the highest quality recording.
20 graduate and undergraduate students were arrested at UC Santa Cruz on April 2, and two more were arrested on April 3. UAW 2865, the union representing Teaching Assistants throughout the University of California system, called for a peaceful, legal strike in protest of management’s unlawful intimidation of student-workers, but were met with more of the same intimidation.
Steve Pleich writes:
There has been much discussion over the last several months concerning the wisdom of having a fully functional Needle Exchange Program in our community. Many have expressed doubts about the public health benefits of such a program, but a clear-eyed and dispassionate analysis of those benefits has been subsumed by an overriding public safety concern.
Donald Williams Jr., a black student at San Jose State University, filed a $5 million claim on March 19 against the institution, which alleges breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence, and violation of the Unruh Act. The claim stems from alleged hate crimes committed against Williams in his SJSU dorm room by three of his housemates in the Fall of 2013.
On March 10, Attorneys filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Hispanic residents living in the King City area. On February 25, six King City police officers and one civilian were arrested for allegedly targeting low income Hispanic people by ordering their vehicles towed and then keeping the cars when the owners could not pay the impound fees. The police officers allegedly kept the cars for themselves or sold them for money.
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins. But the Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.