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On May 23, families and loved ones of people in solitary confinement, and advocates from community organizations, held the third Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California in Manila, Los Angeles, Oakland, Point Reyes, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, as well as in Philadelphia. So far, over 50 organizations statewide, nationally, and internationally, are co-sponsors and endorsers, and the movement continues to grow.
In Santa Cruz, about 25 people rallied at the entrance to the Municipal Wharf, where locals and tourists found two large banners, storyboards exposing the realities of solitary confinement, signs, and a variety of educational literature about solitary confinement in Santa Cruz and California.
Cynthia Fuentes, of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), spoke about her brother, Robert “Robio” C. Fuentes, Sr., PBSP SHU 20 years, hunger striker, poet, and jailhouse lawyer, who never debriefed, and died due to medical neglect and mistreatment by CDCR. She stated, “It was never just my brother who was incarcerated; it was the whole family. CDCR separates prisoners from their loved ones. I watched my parents age much more than they should have. It was heartbreaking. During visits there was never any contact; you talked on crappy phones through heavy glass."
Read More with Photos
Previous Coverage: Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement Continue
|| Use of Solitary Confinement Protested at Coastside Vigil in Santa Cruz
|| Rallies and Demos Begin in Support of 2013 California Hunger Strikers
Community members in East Salinas held a vigil on May 9 to mark the day 26-year-old Osmar Hernandez was killed by Salinas Police in 2014. Osmar's family members were in attendance; Maria Guardado-Hernandez spoke, and Asuncion Guardado stood by solemnly while holding a lit votive candle. Also in attendance were the family members of two other men killed by Salinas Police in 2014, Frank Alvarado and Angel Ruiz.
The May 9 vigil was held in front of the Mi Pueblo Market on Alisal, near where Hernandez was killed. Individuals wrote a variety of messages in colored chalk on the sidewalk. One message posed the question: "Tony Barrera - Where are You?" Barrera is the city council member elected to represent District 2, where the Mi Pueblo Market is located. Those at the vigil explained Barrera has been silent and inactive in response to the police killings. Supporters standing at the corner of Alisal and Sanborn chanted statements such as, "no justice, no peace, no racist police," and, "hey hey, ho ho, McMillan has got to go," referring to Salinas Chief of Police Kelly McMillin.
Five Latino community members died at the hands of Salinas Police in unrelated incidents in 2014. Four were shot and killed, and one died after being tased. In 2015, community members have been honoring the victims with vigils. On March 20, a vigil was held for Angel Ruiz, and a vigil is planned for Wednesday, May 20
from 6-8pm at the corner of Sanborn and Del Monte in Salinas to honor Carlos Mejia-Gomez at the location of his killing.
Read More with Photos
Previous Coverage: Salinas Police Tase Jaime Garcia to Death
|| Police Officers Kill Fourth Person in East Salinas: Frank Alvarado
|| Salinas Police Kill Three People in Last Three Months
Students at UC Santa Cruz occupied the Stevenson Coffee House for a short period of time on April 27 to expose a person they say is a known rapist who is presently employed at the business. The small cafe, which is privately owned and operated under a lease with the university, is located within Stevenson College on the east side of the UCSC campus.
All around the world May Day has been a day for labor solidarity, immigrant rights, direct action, reclaiming the streets, and speaking out against injustice. May Day 2015 in the Northern California was a busy day for actions from San Francisco and Oakland to San Jose and Mountain View to Santa Cruz and Fresno. Call-outs went out for rallies, marches, flying pickets, the shutdown of the Port of Oakland, a tech commute blockade, and an anti-capitalist/Baltimore solidarity march.
Women of color are often the invisible victims of police terror. On April 12, the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), in conjunction with Yuvette Henderson’s family and a handful of other organizations, held a vigil and caravan in the name of Yuvette. The mother of two was killed feet away from an ExtraSpace Storage surveillance camera, yet both the storage facility and the police have refused to release those tapes. Yuvette suffered a head-wound at the hands of Home Depot security, paramedics were called, yet tapes of this encounter not released Yuvette’s family either. The vigil and caravan were held on the corner of 34th and Hollis street in Emeryville, half a block away from where Yuvette was killed. Numerous other demonstrations have been held to demand justice for Yuvette as well.
On April 21, the Oakland Police Department conceded to community pressure and allowed the brother and sister of Yuvette Henderson to review the videos leading up to her murder by Emervyille police, which is rare after a police killing. The family left that meeting disappointed. Upon arrival, they were told that there was no video of Yuvette's assault inside of Home Depot and that the DVD controlling the video at ExtraSpace Storage — where she was killed — was broken that day. So the two most critical events of the day Yuvette was killed are not available for review.
Oakland Police Release (Some) Video to Family of Yuvette Henderson After Community Pressure |
OPD to Reveal Surveillance Video to Yuvette Henderson's Family After Community Pressure |
Vigil, Caravan Demands Justice in the State-Sponsored Killing of Yuvette Henderson |
Anti Police-Terror Project hosts vigil for Yuvette Hendersen and delivers demands to OPD |
Anti Police-Terror Project returns with demands to Home Depot and OPD
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Emeryville Home Depot Shut Down for Yuvette Henderson
Yuvette Henderson Gunned Down by Emeryville Police in Oakland
A group of about 100 homeless people and their supporters attended the Tulare City Council meeting on April 21 calling for specific changes in public policy. The group, which delivered a petition signed by over 1,000 residents, called for improvements in the way homeless people are treated by the police, a safe place to sleep and equal rights. The Union of Hope in Tulare filled the City Council chambers with an overflow crowd. There was standing room only. This was the statement they delivered to the mayor and council members:
We thank you for this opportunity to address this issue that we want to bring to your attention. The issue is the poor treatment of houseless people here and the lack of a long term solution to the problem in this beautiful city. According to the Homeless Central California Area Social Services Consortium 2015 there are 595 houseless persons in our County, and in our city of Tulare there are 100. We find it deplorable that three houseless persons have died already this year, and Raul Galegos encountered a houseless mother with her 8-month-old child who were both as cold as ice. The houseless have reported being assaulted, having bones broken, and their belongings taken. These people are residents of Tulare and as such deserve to have access to shelter and provisions in their time of need. They deserve to be protected and not assaulted. They are human beings and they need to have access to emergency shelter in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It is time to stop kicking this particular can down the road. The houseless need solutions, not a cold shoulder.
On March 9, U.S. Marshals chased the wrong man in Oakland, leading to activist Jabari Shaw, a friend, and his daughter getting into a car crash in East Oakland. Initial media reports labeled the “suspect” as a “violent fugitive.” Activists quickly mobilized and used social media to counter that story when the man turned out to be Jabari Shaw, a college student, father, and well known Oakland anti-police brutality activist. Community Ready Corps
(C.R.C.) is raising questions about the surveillance of community organizers by the Oakland Police Department and U.S. Marshalls.
Plainclothes marshals conducting surveillance had mistaken Shaw. Using unmarked cars, they surrounded the car he was in, drew their weapons, and even blocked a car door, according to Shaw. In fear, the driver, Mary Valencourt, sped off with Shaw and his four-year-old daughter, Anniya, in the backseat. All three were hospitalized.
Shaw, who was not charged with a crime, limped out of Highland Hospital on March 9. He has returned several times due to ongoing pain, which includes pain in his ribs and his arm. He also feels traumatized each time he sees police. Doctors told Shaw that Valencourt might not walk again. Shaw’s greatest concern is his daughter, whose leg was broken and who is now afraid to leave their home. With his hospital bills mounting, friends and supporters held a fundraiser at East Side Cultural Center on March 29.
Community raises funds for Oakland activist Jabari Shaw |
Attack on Jabari Shaw, daughter, & Mary Carmen Valencourt by US Marshals, FBI, and OPD |
Justice 4 Jabari, Anniyah, & Mary || See Also:
Black Community Control of the Police |
US Marshal's can be SO rude!
Sheriff Jim Hart is making an emergency requisition in the amount of $47,925 to install a seven-foot tall, 364-foot long gated iron fence in order to close off the area of the Santa Cruz County Main Jail's parking lot that is most commonly used by community members for public assembly and political demonstrations. Hart has specifically stated that recent political demonstrations held at the jail are the reason for building the new fence. In response, activists are calling for the community to pack the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 21
when the proposal will be voted on.
Sheriff Hart explains his justification for the necessity of the fence in the April 21 agenda report: ".....following and in conjunction with the Highway 17 demonstration and closure, protesters blocked the driveway from Blaine Street to the garage, requiring Sheriff's deputies to clear a path for an inmate transportation van returning with inmates from court appearances...There have also been incidents within the last year wherein protesters walked to the garage doors, pounded on the doors, and caused disruption."
For years, the Santa Cruz County Main Jail has been the location of political demonstrations, and two months ago the Board of Supervisors took a different action to limit movement around the main jail at the request of Sheriff Hart. At the February 10 meeting, board members unanimously voted to approve a trespassing ordinance that now makes it a misdemeanor to move within "designated security perimeters" around the exterior of the jail. The security perimeters were defined as being any area surrounding the jail that is fenced.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Stop Us From Organizing at the Jail? We Say NO WAY!
April 21: No New Fence Around the Jail! - Pack the Board of Supes
On April 14, the Salinas City Council voted to approve the purchase of enough body cameras to outfit every officer in the Salinas Police Department. On April 9, the Capitola City Council unanimously voted to approve a request from their police department to use $100,501.31 in Supplemental Law Enforcement State Funds (SLESF) to purchase a dual video system for police vehicles and body cameras.
Capitola Police Chief Rudy Escalante said the "benefits" of using the equipment were to enhance opportunities to capture evidence, assist in patrolling anti-social behavior, provide impartial and accurate evidence collection, and for greater insight into service delivery.
Organizations including the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) caution that there are many unresolved legal and civil rights issues regarding the police use of Personal Digital Recording Devices (PDRDs). "PDRD video is treated as evidence first and foremost," Rachel Lederman of the NLG wrote in 2014. "This means that regardless of whether the video has captured illegal activity, or is being used in an investigation, it is not accessible to the general public – at least not without an attorney and a federal lawsuit, and even then, it may be difficult and take months or years to obtain the complete videos."
Salinas City Council Approves Police Body Camera System Purchase | Capitola City Council Approves Purchase of Body Cameras for Police
See Also: PDRDs – Quick Fix for Police Misconduct, or Counter- Surveillance Tool?
On April 13, a group gathered at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse in support of Alix Tichelman, the woman charged with killing a Google executive named Forrest Hayes in 2013. Dozens of pamphlets were handed out in front of the courthouse detailing the case against Alix. Her parents personally thanked the group for their presence. Free Alix! writes:
She is being unfairly railroaded into jail for an accident that was not her fault.
On April 14, a call to end business as usual to stop police killings brought demonstrations and protests from coast to coast. In San Francisco protesters took to the streets in La Mission and on the steps of City Hall. From 2005 to 2013, the San Francisco Police Department killed 19 civilians by gunshot. That has continued in the last two years fueled by racism within the SFPD as revealed in text messages among police.
At least two hundred protesters went to City Hall and disrupted the Board of Supervisors meeting, chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police." On the steps of City Hall, Supervisor Avalos said, “… that black individuals in the Bayview District are under constant surveillance and racially profiled, but if you're white and if you're out there partying in Dolores Park, nothing happens." Campos declared, "We have had enough!" Undaunted by the presence of sheriff’s deputies wearing riot gear, protesters gathered in the atrium of City Hall to continue protesting.
Simultaneous actions took place in Oakland and Stockton, too.
Read More with Photos |
Stop Business As Usual! Say No More! To The System Giving A Green Light To Killer Cops! |
Speak Out in City Hall: No New Jail in SF!
The six UCSC students arrested in association with the March 3 blockade of Highway 1 where it meets Highway 17 in Santa Cruz returned to court on April 8. A prosecutor indicated the District Attorney's office will not offer them a plea deal to reduce misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and creating a public nuisance. The Santa Cruz DA also desires a restitution amount of $19,000 be paid. Additionally, UCSC has suspended the students until the Spring of 2016.
Afrika Town is a community garden in what was long a vacant lot in Oakland next to the Qilombo social center. On March 26, the landowner came with a bulldozer to raze the garden, backed up by Oakland police officers. Activists quickly gathered and were able to convince the landowner to return a week later. On April 3, dozens of community members turned out to defend the garden. The owner backed down, giving Afrika Town the opportunity to buy the land. Afrika Town is now in dire need of funds to survive.
Community members opposing the City of Monterey's new sit-lie ban held their third sit-in on Alvarado Street on April 3. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) and other supporters returned to the same location of the previous two demonstrations and faced increased pressure from business owners, who expressed more aggressively their desire for the group to either move the location of their gathering, or leave the downtown area altogether and stop protesting.
On March 30, Mumia Abu-Jamal collapsed in the prison infirmary at SCI Mahanoy from diabetic shock before being hospitalized in the ICU at Schuylkill Medical Center. Despite his serious condition, he was transferred back to the prison just two days later. The National Lawyers Guild is calling for immediate and independent medical attention for him, and on Friday, April 10
, community members in Oakland will participate in a National Day to "Stand Up for Mumia" at the Federal Building.
Although Mr. Abu-Jamal had sought care for classic warning signs of the disease over the previous three months, including extreme weight loss and severe eczema, the prison infirmary had failed to diagnose him with type 2 diabetes which, with proper medical attention, could have potentially prevented Mr. Abu-Jamal’s current illness.
The medical attention given to Mr. Abu-Jamal thus far has been administered without adequate information and has raised questions of medical neglect, as it was only after a flood of calls by activists and supporters to officials at SCI Mahanoy that he was allowed a handful of very brief visits by family. His family and attorneys are demanding he see a diabetes specialist and dermatologist who is independent of the Pennsylvania DOC health care system.
Urgent Action Alert: Mumia Abu-Jamal in Medical Center |
NLG Calls for Immediate, Independent Medical Attention for Mumia Abu-Jamal | Mumia Delivers New Commentary & National Day of Action
Oakland, April 10: #MumiaMustLive - National Day to Stand Up for Mumia
As community members mark the one-year anniversary of the police killing of Alex Nieto, none of the four San Francisco police officers involved in Alex’s death face any charges. In response, Stop Police Impunity held a peoples’ court in front of the SFPD's Mission District station on March 23. This trial complete with a peoples’ judge, jury, and prosecutor found all four officers guilty. Demonstrators locked themselves together, and the entire block of Valencia in front of the police station was blocked for four hours.
Patricia Jackson writes:
On March 21, 2014, Alex Nieto, a SF native, full-time student, and intern at Youth Guidance, was shot down by Police who responded to a 911 call about a “conspicuous person” in Bernal Heights Park. Alejandro Nieto, in the park on his lunch break, wore a Taser required for his job. Once again, the police used their mantra, a gun was pulled and we feared for our lives.” Witnesses state however they did not see Alex with a gun.... The SFPD, Mayor Lee, and District Attorney Gascon have lost credibility in the community. Consistently, cops are given impunity after killings.
Read More with Photos | SF Mission Police Street Occupation-On Anniversary Of The Death Of Alex Nieto
Previous Coverage: Hundreds in San Francisco Protest the Murder of Alex Nieto