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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Health, Housing, and Public Services
An Account of the Destruction of a Community Park
On December 6, 2011, contractors working for Datum Construction Management demolished a community park in Santa Cruz. Before the park had been put in my members of the community, the lot had been dead space and full of rather undesirable things. The community park changed the space entirely, but it appears those in control of the space (for now) would rather it be an ugly lot of dirt.
A new community park that popped up over the weekend in an empty lot behind the Saturn restaurant was destroyed this morning. The lot had been a dead space full of trash and other undesirable things for decades until community members cleaned it up and put in beds of plants. The park changed the way the corner felt entirely, but it appears that the incoming Walgreens and the contractors working for them would rather the lot be an ugly lot of dirt.
At around 8am this morning, Datum Construction Site Manager Jason Reisinger and his employees began fencing in the community park, even though there were a few people sitting in the park enjoying it. Reisinger came and told people they had to leave the park. He said that if people didn't leave, he would call the cops. Before he finished his sentence, four cars of police he that he obviously had already called arrived on Spruce Street. The folks in the park seemed to be confused and upset, but complied with the police demands that they leave the park. The police left and the fence went up the rest of the way.
As Reisinger put up the fence, people asked him if he knew what the plans were, and if he planned on bulldozing the garden right away. He said his orders were just to put up the fence, that he wasn't sure what the plan was, and that there should be a pamphlet on site soon describing what landscaping would happen in the lot.
After about 20 minutes, the sound of a tractor hitting concrete planters drew neighbors and passersby toward the lot. People rushed out to the lot, running around or jumping over the fence to stop the tractor from destroying any more plants. Reisinger, who was driving the tractor, called the police again. Angry verbal exchanges were had, and then one angry person grabbed some handfuls of dirt and mulch from the ground and shoved it down the bulldozers exhaust pipe. Outraged, Reisinger shouted "you're destroying private property!"
"You're destroying our park!" people yelled back at him.
More and more police showed up, as did more and more upset neighbors and friends. Reisinger called United Rentals, bumbling an apology that he hadn't returned the tractor yet because there were too many people in the park yesterday to use it, and now he needed someone to come check it out to make sure it wasn't going to break if he turned it back on. The tractor was out of commission for about an hour before a maintenance person from United Rentals showed up to see if the tractor was damaged. The repairman cleared it for use. Reisinger got back in the bulldozer and turned it back on, blowing soil and mulch up in the air. He then spent most of the next hour destroying the garden under the protection of about a dozen cops.
The garden is gone for now, reduced once more to a pile of rubble. While those of us who spent hours working on beautifying the park are angry, we are still hopeful that we can come together to build an even more vibrant and beautiful community park in its place.
All photos are taken with permission from Margaret Killjoy's Flickr: