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.
This month's Bike Party theme in Santa Cruz was pie and pajamas. A colorful group gathered for pie at the Bike Church and then rode off into the sunset together on March 14 for Pi Day (3.14). Unlike the world-famous critical-mass bicycle rides, which are more political in focus and sometimes confrontational, Bike Party aims for a festive and friendly ride. The Santa Cruz Bike Party is gaining popularity and part of a larger movement, with the San José Bike Party being the most famous.
In 2013, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a number of new ordinances that disproportionately affect homeless and low income people. Local ordinances now govern such behavior as "loitering" on traffic medians and "disorderly" conduct in parks, which has been redefined and may now result in a 24-hour stay away order. Additionally, the amount of space artists, activists, street vendors and performers may use in downtown Santa Cruz has been significantly reduced.
The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement on March 11 with the California Department of Parks and Recreation that will substantially increase protections in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in old-growth forests. The settlement requires the agency to reduce dangers posed by visitor trash, which harms murrelets by unnaturally increasing the abundance of predators that eat eggs and chicks.
Santa Cruz Sentinel photographer Dan Coyro has called members and supporters of the Santa Cruz Eleven "roaches" and "street vermin" in recent public statements, in addition to making comments disparaging the local needle exchange program, and calling the homeless "bums" while blasting their photo on social media. The Santa Cruz Sentinel is considered by many to be the newspaper of record in Santa Cruz County, which has some questioning the ability of Coyro to function objectively at his position.