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Occupy Santa Cruz Stands Up to Order to Leave on November 16th
The Santa Cruz City Government has issued a permit to Occupy Santa Cruz that falsely accuses the camp of being unsafe and unsanitary. Yet the permit has a deadline of noon on November 16th at which time the city’s “authorization” of the right to protest ends. This ultimatum must be resisted.
Occupy Santa Cruz Stands Up to Order to Leave on November 16th
Protests to be held Monday and Tuesday
By Steven Argue
The Santa Cruz City Government has issued a permit to Occupy Santa Cruz that falsely accuses the camp of being unsafe and unsanitary. Yet the permit has a deadline of noon on November 16th at which time the city’s “authorization” of the right to protest ends.
In response the General Assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz passed a resolution on November 6th that states in part:
“While the General Assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz appreciates the City authorities’ public recognition that our assembly is within our First Amendment rights, we want to make known that the unsolicited permit issued to us violates these rights.
“Our permit is the First Amendment.”
Yet in a letter from Democrat Mayor Ryan Coonerty to Occupy participant Justin White, Coonerty defends the City’s position saying, “First Amendment case law for the past hundred years recognizes that government can issue ‘reasonable time, place and manner" restrictions on public gatherings.’”
The Occupy Santa Cruz statement, however, states in no uncertain terms, “As people of the United States of America, our rights to freedom of speech and assembly do not end at a certain time of night, nor at noon on November 16th as indicated in the permit.”
After defending the City’s position, Coonerty goes on to say, “I hope the protest complies with the reasonable terms of the permit…” This request for compliance comes after he also tried to distance himself from the letter saying he didn’t write it and, “The permit and its enforcement was done by the Police and City Attorney.”
So Occupy Santa Cruz is supposed to believe that Mayor Coonerty has nothing to do with actions he supports and that are being carried out by the police department and city attorney’s office that he is the boss of.
In addition to the eviction notice masked as a “permit”, the cops of the local Democratic Party controlled government have been ticketing protesters under an anti-homeless law that makes sleep illegal. The law is 647e, a California state law that was recently toughened up by the Democrat controlled state legislature making two acts of sleeping potentially punishable by a year in jail.
Two Santa Cruz protesters for the homeless, Ed Frey and Gary Johnson, were convicted last summer of 647e and sentenced to 6 months in jail. This was for protesting on the county steps against Santa Cruz laws that make it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night. Bail was set for Ed Frey, pending appeal, at $50,000. Their only act of civil disobedience was sleeping. This occurred at a three month protest called “Peace Camp 2010”. Revealing the political nature of the draconian sentences, Judge Gallagher told homeless activist Gary Johnson that he “could get some sleep in jail” before they were dragged away in chains for their 6 month sentences. The law they were protesting makes it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night, outside, in a tent, or in a vehicle.
On Friday, June 24, after two weeks in jail, Ed Frey was released on bail pending appeal with his bail of $50,000 dollars reduced to $110. Supporters quickly passed the hat and Ed Frey was released from jail on bail. Gary Johnson’s bail was reduced the next week and he too was released pending appeal. Both face a continuation of their six month sentences if their appeals fail.
Another Peace Camp 2010 protester, Linda Lemaster, is still awaiting trial for the crime of sleeping. Dozens of other protesters were ticketed during the protests with tickets going to arrest warrants. Government repression eventually shut down the Peace Camp 2010 protests.
Now the liberal government of Santa Cruz has issued half a dozen 647e tickets to Occupy Santa Cruz protesters as well. In addition, they have arrested one protester, Felix Krull, who has been held in jail on $500 bail. He may or may not have been released as of this writing. His “crime” was being caught sleeping and then failing to show adequate ID to the police.
The Occupy Santa Cruz statement says, “We are seeking cooperation from city officials to prevent police repression of our assembly.”
The local Democrats in power in Santa Cruz send out their county and city cops to silence protests for human rights for the homeless, support legislation against immigrants like the “Secure Communities” program, and threaten to cut the already meager wages of In Home Support Workers, wages needed to provide the care that helps keep the disabled, elderly, and dying in their homes. While Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty supports the city’s anti-homeless laws, police repression, and has signed on with the anti-immigrant “Secure Communities” program, he opposes measures that would help fight homelessness like an increase in the minimum wage and has been part of carrying out austerity that includes the lay-off of workers and cuts in homeless services while at the same time hiring more cops.
As the current crisis of capitalism threatens the break-down all that is left that is civil in our society, the Democrats charge ahead with the Republicans in making sure it is the poor and working class who pay for the crisis of capitalism, not capitalist profits. All reformist dreams of the Democrat Party in any way being a source of any sort of “hope” should be abandoned in favor of recognizing reality. Labor unions must abandon their illusions in the Democrats and stop giving them our money and instead prepare to fight by putting union dues in strike funds. The true power of labor will never be found groveling at the feet of hostile Democrat politicians. Instead, labor has the potential to win demands by shutting down the profits of the capitalists.
As opposed to the Democrat’s program of more war, more cops, criminalization of poverty, political repression, and austerity; labor should move forward with our own demands. Those could include a massive jobs program to house the homeless, the seizure of housing foreclosed by the banks to be used by those who need it, and an end to capitalist medicine in the United States, a major cause of debt, homelessness, and death. Without an independent fight-back of the working class, using the power of the strike for political demands, the situation will just continue to grow bleaker.
Showing the potential of a real and massive fight for economic justice and against brutal police repression, Oakland workers participated in a general strike on November 2nd that shut much of the city down including closing the Port of Oakland. At least 50,000 people protested.
Likewise, on October 14th New York’s Mayor Bloomberg (Democrat) tried to take the brutal repression that has taken place there a step further by clearing the Occupy Wall Street Protesters from Liberty Plaza. Yet, a mass protest defending the square that included strong union participation caused Mayor Bloomberg to back down with his police.
The organization of a mass defense of Occupy Santa Cruz at noon on November 16th should begin now. Mass support may be needed to defend Occupy Santa Cruz at the time the “permit” expires. Union participation and the participation of the entire community is urgently needed. People should show up early. Hands off Occupy Santa Cruz!
In addition, the following actions have been called by the OSC:
Join the Occupy Santa Cruz March to City Hall
Monday, November 7th at 2:30
Meet at the Santa Cruz County Court House (at Ocean and Water at the Water street side)
March to City Hall and confront the City Council and City Manager at 3:00 PM
And on Tuesday, November 8th, at 5:00 PM
People will speak out at Oral Communications of the Santa Cruz City Council
Location: City Hall (809 Center Street)
Liberation News Demands:
Hands off Occupy Santa Cruz! No to the November 16th eviction date!
Liberation News demands:
Drop the Charges Against Occupy Santa Cruz Protesters! Free Felix Krull!
Drop the Charges and Overturn the Sentences all Peace Camp 2010 Protesters!
End Laws making it Illegal for the Homeless to Sleep at Night and Occupy protest!
Seize Housing From the Banks for those Who Need Housing! For a Nation Wide Jobs Program Building Housing for All! Expropriate the 1%!
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Oakland General Strike a Success, but Cops Seriously Injure another Vet
Occupy Santa Cruz General Assembly, Photo by Thomas Leavitt