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Thousands of people, though not as many as in previous years, returned to Porter Meadow at UC Santa Cruz on April 20, 2014 (also Easter Sunday) to celebrate 420, the unorganized annual counterculture holiday. All these people have at least one thing in common; a love for smoking cannabis.
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.
In recent years, the Bernal Heights neighborhood has undergone a wave of gentrification, and many Latino families have been priced out. Many longstanding residents complain of police harassment and racial profiling as a result of the demographic shift towards a higher-income, mainly white population that is buying homes now priced at one million dollars and more.
On March 21, 28-year-old Latino Alejandro Nieto was in Bernal Hill Park, before leaving for his night job as a security guard. The job required that Nieto carry a Taser. While more details are yet to be known, a jogger who reportedly called the police told 911, “A Latin male in a bright red jacket is pacing near a fence” and later, “the 'suspect' was now eating sunflower seeds while resting his hand on the weapon.” At 7:30 when the police arrived, it was still light out. They shot Nieto 14 times, killing him instantly. The SFPD claims they warned him to put his “weapon” down, but a neighbor witness says the police said nothing to him before shooting him.
That same night, an FTP march
protested through neighborhood streets. On March 24, Nieto's friends and family gathered at the park for a vigil. On March 26, a town hall meeting was held by SFPD to defend the killing of Nieto and try to quell the community’s anger. They didn’t expect the massive outpouring and protests by the community. A major struggle has erupted in San Francisco demanding justice after Alex Nieto was gunned down by police. On March 29, hundreds of people marched in the Mission and to the top of Bernal Hill to protest the murder by police of CCSF student Alejandro Nieto.
Read More |
SFPD Kill Scholarship Student Alejandro Nieto After ‘Gentrifiers’ Get Suspicious |
GentriFUKation Killed Alex - the brutal murder by Po'Lice of Mission sun Alejandro Nieto |
Community March: Justice for Alejandro Nieto! Jail killer cops! |
Hundreds In SF Protest Murder of Alejandro Nieto on March 29, 2014 |
Defend our Homes From Evictions, Defend our Lives From Police Terror (PDF) |
Justice for Alex Nieto: No sane person would point a taser at the SFPD, says John Burris
The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott Olsen $4.5 million to compensate him for devastating brain injuries he suffered when an Oakland Police officer shot him in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain.
Mr. Olsen had only been at the demonstration for a matter of minutes before OPD commanders gave the order to use munitions on the assembled crowd. He was shot 18 seconds later. After being shot, Mr. Olsen lay on the pavement critically injured and bleeding from the head, clearly visible very close to the line of police officers. When concerned protesters ran to his aid, OPD Officer Robert Roche threw a flashbang-like CS Blast grenade into their midst, causing them to scatter. The grenade exploded close enough to Mr. Olsen to burn his shoulder as he lay helpless.
No law enforcement personnel responded or summoned medical attention even though their own policy requires them to provide medical aid to anyone hit with a SIM [Specialty Impact Munitions]. In an independent investigation commissioned by the City, former Baltimore Police Chief Tom Frazier found that “the fact that no law enforcement officer, supervisor, or commander observed the person falling down or prostrate in the street during the confrontation was unsettling and not believable.”
Read More |
Scott Olsen Case History Video |
Scott Olsen Press Conference Announces $4.5 M Settlement with Oakland for 2011 Shooting: video
Related Indybay Features:
Costs of OPD's Violence Against Protesters Mount: Settlement in the Kayvan Sabeghi Beating |
NLG Obtains $1.17M and OPD Reforms for Injured Occupy Oakland Protesters and Journalists |
NLG Wins $1 Million & Reforms for OPD's Illegal Mass Arrest of Oscar Grant Protesters on Nov 5, 2010
Occupy Oakland Coverage on Indybay
Rachel Lederman and Jacob Crawford write:
The Oakland Police purchased PDRDs (Personal Digital Recording Devices) following the videotaped murder of Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009. Although Grant was murdered by a BART officer, there was fallout in the streets of Oakland against OPD, which has been unable to bring its police force under control despite its 2003 agreement to a federal court monitored consent decree. Oakland was one of the first agencies to implement PDRDs, so our experiences here should be instructive for those calling for PDRDs in other large urban areas where there is an entrenched police culture of racism and impunity.
In his most recent, January 2014, quarterly report, the court appointed Independent Monitor of the OPD found that “The matter of the proper use of the Department’s PDRDs remains a concern. In too many instances, there are questions about the measure to which personnel throughout the Department understand the use, review, and utility of these devices.” While there had been some improvement in the past six months over previous years, “recent assessments of force cases revealed several serious incidents in which officers – who were in a position to obtain evidence of the facts and circumstances surrounding the use of force – did not have or activate their PDRDs.”
Moreover, even when they are used, the chest cam doesn’t show close proximity physical encounters between an officer and victim, allowing the officer to supply his own narration, such as yelling “Stop resisting” while pummeling a person, or turning the camera on and stating that she smells marijuana or that he has just seen the person drop something that might be drugs, to justify a search, arrest or brutality. And officers are able to turn the cameras on and off at will, thus editing on the fly. Since, absent lawyers and major effort and expenditure, the videos are only accessible to the police and not the public, they effectively turn primarily into tools for the police to collect evidence against the public and combat the public’s videotaping of the police, by creating their videos from the law enforcement point of view videos.
Sam Stoker, the director of "The Ghosts Of March 21," writes:
This interrogation of a day in the life of Oakland, California, is focused on March 21, 2009, when a shoot-out between a young man named Lovelle Mixon and members of the Oakland Police Department resulted in the death of Mixon himself and four Oakland police officers. Closely following the day’s events, this documentary examination of the encounter’s underlying contradictions challenges the mainstream narrative of the confrontation and in so doing, it sheds new light on the nature and reproduction of racism in the contemporary United States.
To date, the dominant narrative of the shoot-out, propagated by the Oakland Police Department, state officials and the media, has been that Lovelle Mixon was a monster and a rapist and the slain officers were angels and heroes. This perspective, viewed through a liberal lens and reliant on misleading labels, pretends the shoot-out occurred in a vacuum devoid of history and sociopolitical factors; producing an illusion that has re-enforced the status quo, suppressed critical thought, and ultimately, attempts to delegitimize the Black experience in America by rejecting the validity of the systemic factors at its root.
The film is set to open in Oakland and Berkeley on March 20 and 21
, San Francisco on March 22
, and Santa Rosa on March 23
Screenings Announcement |
"The Ghosts Of March 21" Trailer | Interview with Filmmaker Sam Stoker
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Five Die After Reported Gunfire Between Lovelle Mixon and Oakland Police
Homeless people in downtown Fresno can no longer set up encampments. They must put up a tent in the evening and take it down early in the morning. During the day, they have to stay with their property or it will be taken and put into storage. On March 6, the Fresno City Council passed an ordinance that makes it easier for the police to remove shopping carts from the homeless. These “quality of life” ordinances add pressure to be constantly on the move and never have a place to stay that is safe and secure.
On March 10, Attorneys Fernando F. Chavez and Blanca E. Zarazúa 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.
“It is an outrage that law enforcement officials who are supposed to protect people would plan to take advantage of these innocent Latino residents, knowing it would be difficult or impossible to pay the fees to retrieve their car,” said Fernando Chavez, attorney with The Chavez Law Firm and son of the late Cesar E. Chavez.
The class action was filed after several community members were interviewed and troubling facts were disclosed. “This lawsuit provides at least some relief for the many residents of King City who were subject to serious civil rights violations” said Attorney Blanca E. Zarazúa, Honorary Consul for Mexico in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.
Read More | See Also: Assembly Member Alejo Statement on Allegations Against King City Police Officers
| Senator Monning Statement on King City Police Department Corruption Scandal
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.