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In a precedent-setting victory for fracking opponents, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal of the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled on March 31 that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold the leases without properly assessing the threat that fracking could pose to water, fish and wildlife. Some of these leases are within the Salinas River watershed, a habitat for endangered Central Coast steelhead.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. Many Delta advocates believe that the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used to deliver water to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas.
The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club that challenged a September 2011 BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies. “This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment — the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the Tribe strongly opposes the tentative approval of genetically engineered salmon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The Winnemem Wintu object to GE production, as it would certainly impact our obligation to salmon and would change the traditional responsibility to salmon and our relationship that exists for thousands of years," Sisk said.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishermen, and environmental groups are currently fighting federal government plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as the FDA’s approval of genetically modified fish. They argue that the dam would result in the flooding of many of the Tribe’s sacred sites and it's expansion, planned in conjunction with the construction of Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels, would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other imperiled fish species.
“It must be recognized as an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples for the Winnemem Wintu to hold the salmon as a relative that is so intrinsic to our culture," Sisk said. "There are complete eco systems based on the clarity, knowledge and health of the salmon."
Read More | Winnemem Wintu Tribe | See Also: Winnemem Wintu Tribe: Speak out against the raising of Shasta Dam
| Conservation groups, Winnemem Wintu appeal reduction of salmon protections
| Winnemem Wintu leader will speak on salmon at Fisheries Forum
| Winnemem Wintu hold salmon ceremony at Glen Cove
| Winnemem Wintu Leaders in New Zealand to Call McCloud Salmon Home
| Winnemem Wintu Tribe Urges Feinstein to Withdraw Salmon Killer Legislation
An eviction of a significant number of homeless people at a downtown encampment in Fresno was expected to take place on February 14th. According to residents of the homeless encampment, located near Monterey and E street, they were told by the owner of the property they are living on that they had until that day to “move on.” The owner of the lot was accompanied by several officers from the Fresno Police Department and a truck & crew from the Fire Department. One homeless man said that the owner of the property threatened to bulldoze the vacant lot and destroy everything. The landlord said to "get the fuck out of here."
The eviction by the owner did not happen. This is not unusual and has become a pattern in Fresno. What usually happens is that a property owner may or may not care that homeless people are living on his property. He or she is contacted by someone from the City of Fresno (usually code enforcement or the police) and they are told they have to do something about the homeless encampment on their property. The threat of sending in a bulldozer created enough anxiety among the homeless that at least half of them moved away, which was the desired result. If the city and property owner can get the homeless to leave, without bringing out the bulldozer, that is a win for them. A fire of unknown origin in the encampment on the morning of February 14th cleared the remaining people from the area.
Fresno has no Heart - Will Evict the Homeless on Valentines Day |
Burning the Homeless out
On February 14th, 2013, cities across the globe joined the One Billion Rising campaign to stop violence against women and girls. In Northern California, participating cities included Fresno, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Oakland, and San Francisco. One Billion Rising began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. Activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men worldwide joined together to express their outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. The event was organized by V-Day
, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.
San Francisco |
SF: Dance Across the Golden Gate Bridge |
SF: Dance through the Streets for a Culture of Consent |
SF: Rise Beyond Borders |
Women Rising in Los Altos |
One Billion Rising Santa Cruz |
Idle No More in Solidarity with V-Day
To show support for the Idle No More movement, on January 26th a statewide rally was held on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. On the 27th Ohlone and other individuals of Californian Native American ancestry held a flash mob in San Francisco at the Westfield Mall, where activists asked, "What are you going to do, not to idle anymore?"
Solidarity actions to coincide with the Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons were called for January 28th by the founders of the Idle No More movement in Canada, one of whom, Sylvia McAdam, spoke to the group at the capitol building via cell phone. "Our work is not done, because once the waters are contaminated here in my people's territory it will effect the waters of your people where you are because we all share the same water," she said.
"I hope that we will continue this until our indigenous sovereignty is respected and utilized every day, because that is what is going to protect our lands and our waters," McAdams said.
In San Francisco, Corrina Gould spoke after the Idle No More flash mob, asking, "How are we going to stand together not just for their treaty rights, but for ours as well. How do we become people that are recognized on our own land?"
Many California Tribes and Nations Represented at Capitol for Statewide Idle No More Rally | Ohlone Support Idle No More with Flash Mob at San Francisco Mall
On January 26, over 400 people from all over California descended on the rural Central Valley town of Chowchilla to protest the horrendous conditions in the notorious prison, Central California Women’s Facility. Close to 4,000 women are currently warehoused in the facility designed for 2,000.
Despite threats of retaliation, prisoner advocacy organizations Justice Now and California Coalition for Women Prisoners received over 1,000 declarations from people inside CCWF and the nearby Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) highlighting a lack of basic medical care, increased tension and conflicts among prisoners due to crowding, increased lock downs, and seriously reduced access to jobs, programs and legal resources. People inside CCWF are calling the treatment of prisoners and their conditions 'gender discrimination' and a violation of their civil and human rights.
“Californians should care about this issue because we are talking about the importance of people’s lives. People die because of the inadequate medical help,” says Theresa Martinez, of Justice Now who spent 23 years of her life locked in California prisons. “Taxpayers are paying to keep warehousing people instead of figuring out how to set them free.”
Read More and View Photos | More Photos | See Also: Who Are We to Judge?
| Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners in Chowchilla
On December 12th, dozens of protesters rallied outside a federal auction in Sacramento against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to oil companies for drilling and fracking. Demonstrators fear that opening up thousands of acres of public land to oil and gas exploration would directly undercut the state's commitment to clean and renewable energy and endanger an already threatened water supply. Land spanning Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties lies on what is known as the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals. Oil and gas companies are targeting this expanse for hydraulic drilling.
A post by Vallejo Copwatch entitled "Vallejo Police Officer who murdered Mario Romero has been identified" states that "On September 2, 2012, Mario Romero was approached and gunned down while sitting in his parked car in front of his home by a Vallejo Police Officer, identified by multiple witnesses as Officer Dustin B. Joseph (age 32)." The post additionally lists a number of prior complaints against officer Joseph reportedly found in public records.
Attorney David E. Mastagni of the Sacramento law firm Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen has demanded that the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay) remove the post by Vallejo Copwatch. It is unclear on whose behalf the overly broad demand was made as it requests that Indybay "remove any and all information pertaining to public safety officers employed by the City of Vallejo." The Indybay Collective has no intention of removing the post.
Read More | Vallejo Copwatch
Six months ago, local Occupy movements arrived at one of Monsanto corporation's Davis facilities at 6 a.m. Monsanto sent a message to their plant's workers to not come into work. The protest educated the public and initiated a conversation as a general assembly brainstormed solutions to Monsanto's corrupt ties with the government, unethical business practices, destruction of the environment, as well as the production of unhealthy food.
Local activist groups and Occupy movements plan to shutdown the Davis Monsanto plant once again, as part of the international shutdown Monsanto action, on Monday, September 17th
at 6:00 a.m. at the corporation’s facility at 1920 5th Street in Davis. Guest speakers will include Cindy Sheehan and Al Rojas. Sandra McDougle and the Fresh Juice Party will perform original songs for the action. Education, music, art and food will be provided.
Read More | Over 60 Occupy Monsanto Actions Planned for the Week of Sept 17th
Previous Coverage: Mobilize Against Agriculture Privatization in Sacramento: June 2003
|| Reclaim the Commons in SF, June 2004
|| Biodemocracy 2005: Reclaim the Commons in Philadelphia
|| Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto, March 2012
|| Hundreds of Farmers Occupy UC Berkeley's Gill Tract in Albany
|| Yes on Prop 37 March in Santa Cruz to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
On August 10th, Thomas Matzat and supporters appeared before the Yolo County District Court for a pre-trial hearing. Thomas is being charged with five counts of felony vandalism, fourteen counts of misdemeanor vandalism, and one misdemeanor charge for “possessing a marking substance with the intent to commit vandalism” (California Penal Code 594.2a).
Thomas is a junior at UC Davis, studying Fine Art. Over the last year, Thomas has used his artistic talent to create oil paintings, screen-prints, banners, and tee-shirts in support of the Occupy movement, and he has also been active in the student movement against university privatization. Last fall, Thomas experienced nerve damage in his wrists due to police brutality during the November 18th UC Davis pepper spray incident.
At Thomas’ arraignment on April 20th, District Attorney Michael Cabral filed the twenty charges against Thomas, saying they were able to identity him as the graffitist based on video footage from a security camera. At the pre-trial hearing on August 10th, however, Thomas’ pro bono legal team provided evidence that police lied in a search warrant affidavit about the security footage.
Thomas is also being charged separately as part of the Davis Dozen for allegedly blockading a corporate bank on the UC Davis campus.
On July 13th, the legal team for the Davis Dozen, students and faculty of UC Davis who allegedly blockaded a corporate bank that appeared on their campus last Fall, filed a Pitchess Motion which alleges that the officers in the case used excessive force or lied about the events surrounding the defendants' arrest. This will provide the court access to the officers' records, allowing confirmation of past use of excessive force against the defendants. Their next court date has been set for Friday, August 24th
As part of U.S. Bank’s aggressive marketing strategy, U.C. Davis students were issued new ID cards that doubled as debit cards, while students who received financial aid were temporarily blocked from receiving their funds unless they opened an account with the bank. Students and educators began blockading the entrance to the bank in January, preventing the branch from operating for nearly two months. In response to the protest, the bank branch closed its doors on February 28.
It is estimated that up to 200 people participated in the alleged blockade, but only twelve of them are facing criminal charges. They are being charged with 21 counts of misdemeanor, including conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor. They face up to 11 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
Several of the twelve were pepper-sprayed by University Police in November, in an act of police brutality that garnished international attention.
Read More | Defense Files Motion in Bank Blocking Case | Support the Davis Dozen
Previous Coverage: 11 UC Davis Students, Professor, Charged for U.S. Bank Blockade
|| Pre-Trial Update on the Davis Dozen
Occupy Fresno held a press conference on June 8th to discuss the settlement of its suit against Fresno County. According to Occupy Fresno
representatives, the settlement is not the victory they were looking for, but it is positive. It upholds the constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Fresno County will remove restrictive ordinances limiting the circulation of flyers, carrying of signs, and holding small gatherings in Courthouse Park. Those arrested will not face criminal charges. Fresno County spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to monitor and arrest Occupy Fresno demonstrators. There were 105 arrests.
Beginning on October 9, 2011, several hundred people of all ages, from all walks of life met in Fresno County Courthouse Park to be a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. June 9th
is the eight month anniversary at Fresno County Courthouse Park — the only known Occupy in the movement that has maintained a continuous 24-hour presence in its original location.
Read More with Video | Indybay's Central Valley Regional Page
In a courtroom packed full of supporters at the Yolo County Courthouse in Woodland, California, all twelve defendants, known as both the "Davis Dozen" and the "Banker's Dozen", pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on May 10th. They also rejected a plea deal offered by Assistant District Attorney Michael Cabral for 80 hours of community service, one year of probation, as well as potential restitution, calling the charges against them "a sham."
On Friday, June 1st, the Davis Dozen
returned to the Yolo County Courthouse before Judge David Reed for a pre-trial conference. The mood was upbeat and positive inside the courtroom, which was too small to accommodate all the supporters who showed up, so they waited outside. The pre-trial conference was brief, and a date was set for another pre-trial conference to file motions on Friday, June 22nd
at 1:30 PM. An attorney for the defense stated that one day prior to the hearing, she received a large volume of discovery evidence. Judge Reed and the attorneys also discussed setting aside Friday, July 13th to potentially hear defense motions, including a Pitchess motion.
Read More | Previous Coverage: 11 UC Davis Students, Professor, Charged for U.S. Bank Blockade
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe will hold a four-day War Dance (H’up Chonas in Winnemem) May 24-27
at the McCloud River site where they hold their Coming of Age ceremonies. The War Dance signifies the tribe’s spiritual commitment to defend at all costs the ceremony from heckling, flashing, and violating disruptions by recreational boaters that have occurred in previous years. More than 400 volunteers from throughout the country, native and non-native, are expected to converge upon the sacred sites to help the tribe close the river and protect the War Dance from interference by boaters.
Just months after UC Davis police pepper sprayed seated students
in the face during a protest against university privatization and police brutality, Chancellor Linda Katehi's administration is trying to send some of the same students to prison for their alleged role in protests that led to the closure of a US Bank branch on campus.
On March 29th, weeks after an anti-privatization action against US Bank ended with the closure of the bank’s campus branch, 11 UC Davis students and one professor received orders to appear at Yolo County Superior Court. District Attorney Jeff Reisig is charging campus protesters with 20 counts each of obstructing movement in a public place and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, the protesters could face up to 11 years each in prison, and $1 million in damages. Support has been requested for their arraignment, which has been rescheduled to May 10th
Last year, UC Davis and US Bank entered a relationship. The deal was that US Bank would provide some money each year to UC Davis, an amount based on how many students opened up accounts with US Bank, in exchange for Davis leasing an office to the bank in the Student Union and issuing new student ID cards, ones with a US Bank logo, that could be used as debit cards. This is a deal that benefits both sides, US Bank gets a captive group of possible customers and UC Davis gets some cash. The only people who do not benefit are the students. The logic of privatization is most clear when a student ID card is branded by its corporate sponsor.
11 UC Davis Students, Professor, Charged for U.S. Bank Blockade | Support The Davis Dozen! Drop All Charges!
On April 28th, hundreds of women and men gathered at the capitol building in Sacramento, held a two hour rally, then marched through the downtown district. Speakers said that California needs to be at the forefront to keep the tide from turning against abortion and other women's rights. Protesters insisted that the war on women is very real, and vowed to be heard in the legislature and on the streets.
Occupy Wall Street in New York called for a nationwide May Day General Strike. Cities and towns across the United States are heeding the call. Workers will be striking, students will be leaving classes, and banks and other large corporations will be forced to close for the day across the nation. May 1st
, 2012, promises to be the largest American May Day since the Immigrant Rights May Day in 2006 and probably the most widespread and furthest reaching in decades.
Members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe from northern California on Monday, April 16 challenged Randy Moore, U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester, at his Vallejo office to protect indigenous women from racial slurs and physical harm during coming of age ceremonies planned for this June. Although claiming to be unfamiliar with the issue, Moore promised to review the Winnemem's request to close 400 yards of the McCloud River arm of Shasta Reservoir for 4 days so that the Tribe can conduct the ceremony. Moore committed to respond to the Tribe's request by May 1, 2012. While closing the river will mean a lot to the Tribe, it will have no impact on the Forest Service, said Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Chief and Spiritual Leader.
During a Coming of Age Ceremony in 2006, a woman “flashed” the ceremonial participants with naked breasts and yelled racist insults. “If someone did this during Mass, they would be arrested,” Chief Sisk said. “Like many traditional people, we hold our women in high regard," said Sisk. "This beautiful ceremony is vital to our girls' transitioning to womanhood with confidence, grace and knowledge. We must hold this ceremony for our tribe to survive."
Read more and view photos | Winnemem Tribe press release and more photos
Monsanto closed its facility in Davis, California on March 16th after 150 occupiers from throughout the state blocked the entrances to their Davis facility at 1910 5th Street. The occupiers reported that they shut down operations at the corporate giant, which produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is notorious for its inordinate influence over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Students, educators, workers, and supporters of the budding Occupy movement, converged in the thousands on the State Capitol in Sacramento on March 5th. They were there to demand that the government fund education and social services.
They came in response to a call by Occupy the Capitol put out by Occupy Education California.
In the morning, a march left Sacramento's Southside Park headed for the Capitol. There they were joined by thousands of other protesters.
They came from across the state. Some had even marched for five days
from San Francisco to be there. Students came from the Central Valley, Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California, the Bay Area, and from northern counties too.
A large rally took place on the Capitol lawn at 11 am. The crowd was diverse, mostly young, but with a healthy dose of veteran activists and elders. Student groups and campaigns, such as the petition drive to put a millionaires tax on the ballot
, and community organizations such as ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), were more in evidence than teachers' unions - though there were many educators present. A few politicians where there. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom was allowed to speak, and later sat on the floor in a hallway with protesters.
By noon, protesters were already entering into the Capitol, which remained open, but heavily guarded. Rigorous security inspections were conducted of every person entering the Capitol. A general assembly was scheduled for 1 pm, but long waits on long lines to get in, pushed that back.
Oakland Send Off for Marchers to Sacramento on Occupy Education Day of Action
Occupy the Capitol M 5 video