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On December 13, community members in Santa Cruz joined people across the country for a national day of protest against police violence. The focus of the protests have primarily been on the police killings of three black individuals, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, which all came to national attention in 2014.
After a rally at the Town Clock, demonstrators marched down Pacific Avenue to the corner of Cooper Street where a die-in was held for 4 1/2 minutes, which represented the 4 1/2 hours that Michael Brown's body lay dead in the street after he was killed by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson in August. As people laid down on Pacific Avenue, a large crowd formed, speakers were heard, and traffic was stopped. Demonstrators also stopped traffic during a short rally at the corner of Pacific and Soquel Avenue, and then again on Ocean Street in front of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), which was the ultimate destination of the march.
Rallies for justice for Michael Brown, and in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo., were held in Santa Cruz in August after Brown's killing, as well as on November 24 and 25, following the Missouri Grand Jury's decision not to recommend the indictment of officer Wilson.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Santa Cruz Takes it to the Streets for Mike Brown
| Ferguson "Day After" Gathering in Santa Cruz
Previous Coverage: Protests in Support of Justice for Michael Brown Erupt All Over the World
On the heels of nearly two weeks of protests in the East Bay and San Francisco spurred by the Ferguson grand jury decision, demonstrations escalated when the Eric Garner grand jury decision was announced on December 3 in New York City. Nightly since December 6, hundreds have taken to the streets of Berkeley to protest for justice, shutting down highways along the way, with marches reaching through Oakland and Emeryville as well. California Highway Patrol and Berkeley police have responded aggressively, with hundreds of demonstrators arrested, beaten, and/or injured.
The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) notes that resources for law enforcement have greatly increased over the past few decades, while accountability and transparency have decreased. The group says justice has been sorely lacking for a string of killings and assaults by police in the Bay Area and beyond, and the impact has been greatest in the black community and other communities of color.
"There is genuine anger about systemic racism and a crisis of accountability among law enforcement," said NLGSF Executive Director Carlos Villarreal. "District Attorneys should not waste resources prosecuting protesters while police who kill are left to roam our streets."
NLG Supports Ongoing Racial Justice Protests, Decries Lack of Police Accountability |
Berkeley: How We Shut Down Peter Thiel And Ended Up With Guns In Our Faces |
Social Unrest in the SF Bay Area |
More Photos from the Ongoing Anti Police Movement 12.09.14 |
Photos from the Anti Police March 12/8/14 |
An open letter to the City Council of Berkeley in response to Councilmember Linda Maio |
SPJ NorCal Responds to Reports of Police Force Used on Journalists in Berkeley |
Group Raising Funds to Repair Windows of Small Businesses in East Bay |
Photos from Anti Cop march in Berkeley 12.7.14 |
Arrest And Court Support Updates From Ferguson Protests In The Bay Area! |
Saturday night in Berkeley
Previous Coverage: Bay Area Shuts It Down for Mike Brown After No Indictment for Darren Wilson
On December 9, the Santa Cruz City Council voted 6-1 to approve the purchase of a $250,000 armored emergency response and "rescue" vehicle. The proposed purchase was placed on the council's consent agenda and was announced with very little notice, but the public quickly mobilized to protest. In response to the city council’s vote, members of the public broke out into chants of, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and Mayor Lynn Robinson then had the chambers cleared by the police.
Robert Norse writes:
"Every single speaker opposed the acquisition of a new armored police vehicle at the afternoon City Council meeting. When two speakers turned their backs on the Council, outgoing Mayor Robinson made arrest threats, further heightening the tension in the room. At one point the Council left the room, leaving the community to organize its own meeting. They shortly returned, quickly voted in the police vehicle, without giving clear answers to questions about the deadline requirement, additional costs, and the potential for further militarizing the police force. Speakers began shouting "shame" from the floor. Police "escorted" one out; others raised the cry; police then cleared the chambers and the Council met (illegally) behind locked doors and drawn shades."
Read More | Protest Shuts Down City Council, Urban Assault Vehicle Approved, Anti-Homeless Law Delayed | Stay Away Stupidity, Oppose Police Violence & Chomp Coronation Treats! | Santa Cruz Police to Procure $250K 'Rescue Vehicle'
As expected, the grand jury tasked with determining if there was enough evidence for charging Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown determined that there wasn’t probable cause. That night, on November 24, people in Ferguson and across the country began to rise up for Mike Brown and shut down freeways, city streets, and more. Protests continued throughout the week, culminating on the annual Black Friday shopping day and continuing into the weekend.
In Ferguson on the first night after the verdict was announced, two police cars were burned as well as a number of local businesses. Major protests demanding justice and shutting down interstate freeways were held that night and throughout the week in Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Miami, and numerous other cities across the U.S.
On the first night, over 1000 people marched from Oscar Grant plaza at 14th & Broadway. The I-580 freeway was shut down for over two hours and rowdy protests continued downtown late into the night, with fires set in the streets and several businesses broken into. Street protests in Oakland continued over the next several days, with Oakland police headquarters targeted several times, with one march making its way to the edge of Berkeley and Emeryville. Over 150 people have been arrested. On Black Friday, activists locked themselves to each other and a BART train, effectively blocking all BART trains from transporting consumers to San Francisco. Fourteen people were arrested and released later in the day. Dec 5: March and Noise Demo to Support the Revolt! FTP!
Dec 1: Court Support & Picket for Brave Fighters Who Shut Down BART and Freeways
Blackout Collective Shuts Down Black Friday BART Trains to San Francisco
Black Lives Matter! BART Shut Down On Black Friday To Protest Brown Murder & Gentrification
Next Day After Ferguson Demonstratration!
Oakland stands in solidarity with Ferguson
Oakland Stands Up for Mike Brown
Love 4 Ferguson/Fuck the Police on RCA squat in Oakland
Oakland Shuts It Down for Mike Brown After No Indictment for Darren Wilson
Fuck The Police: Oakland Demonstration After Darren Wilson Verdict
Protests happened throughout the week, with the first in the Mission District on November 24 and the largest on November 28, Black Friday, disrupting downtown shopping areas such as Westfield Centre, Union Square, and multiple stores as the march passed. Nearly 70 people were arrested. Dec 6: SF Town Hall Meeting-From Ferguson to San Francisco: The "Militarization of the Police”
Downtown SF Largely Shut Down on Black Friday Night
Black Friday march in SF shuts down Union Square
Traffic barricade to the face
SF Black Friday March for Michael Brown & Alex Nieto
Pics from protest over Racist Cops in SF
SF Takes to the Streets To Protest Racist Murders
Protest: Another killer cop walks free! Justice for Mike Brown!
On November 25, a wide variety of community members in Santa Cruz came together at the Town Clock and marched to the Santa Cruz Police Department.
Ferguson "Day After" Gathering in Santa Cruz
On November 30, a demonstration shut down traffic in and around "Christmas in the Park" in the downtown area.
From Palestine to Ferguson
Dec 6: From Ferguson To Ayotzinapa: March Against State Violence
Camover Attack in West Oakland
Ferguson Photos By Jessie S.with Interview
Details Murky in Officer Involved Shooting in Seaside
Mike Brown's Murder Subject of This Week's PEACE Vigil
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Protests in Support of Justice for Michael Brown Erupt All Over the World |
Rebellion in Ferguson Over Murder of Michael Brown
On November 10, peace activists in Santa Cruz protested a book signing appearance by Leon Panetta, the one-time Secretary of Defense and CIA Director. Bookshop Santa Cruz hosted the event with a crowd of hundreds in attendance. By the end of the evening, five individuals were "banned for life" from Bookshop Santa Cruz, in retaliation for activities related to the evening's peaceful protest. Additionally, Panetta's security assaulted an Indybay journalist who was documenting the event.
On November 8, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs shared food in solidarity with those who have been arrested for serving food in public in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Volunteers with Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs have been serving food continuously to the hungry and homeless at the same location, the Santa Cruz downtown post office, for several years now. An event announcement for the solidarity event stated, "No one should be arrested for helping the community. Sharing food is an unregulated act of compassion." Events have been held worldwide in support of those being arrested in Fort Lauderdale.
On November 5, a woman died in the Santa Cruz County Jail. The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department immediately claimed there was nothing suspicious about the death, calling it a “medical event.” Sin Barras, a Santa Cruz-based prison abolition organization, has said the deaths were, "preventable in more ways than one."
The annual Watsonville Peace and Unity March took place on November 1. This year, for the first time since the initial event in 1994, the Watsonville Police Department was given a large role in determining the route of the march. The event was originally founded by the Watsonville Brown Berets, and the group remained primary organizers of the march from the beginning through 2011, but in 2014 organization of the event became professionalized.
Salinas Police have reported that Jaime Garcia, age 35, died after one of their officers tased him during an attempted arrest on Halloween. According to an SPD press release, the five officers involved in the incident were put on administrative leave during the "initital stages" of the investigation. The death of Garcia is the fifth death to occur at the hands of Salinas Police in 2014.