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On April 6 the organization Sin Barras, which means "without prison bars" in Spanish, held a rally and march to the Santa Cruz County Jail in response to the four recent deaths of individuals while in custody at the facility. Organizers announced they had gotten word that inmates were aware of the demonstration and were excited to hear it from inside. This was confirmed as marchers neared the women's wing of the facility, and individuals inside banged on the walls and flashed lights through the opaque windows.
"Our jail is seen as a model county that a lot of other sheriff's departments are looking at," Tash Nguyen of Sin Barras
stated, pointing to the broader implications of conditions at the facility. According to the Sin Barras press release, those conditions inside the Santa Cruz County Jail amount to "torture."
"We demand that county officials provide real health care for those inside, eliminate pretrial detention, and fund homeless service programs and drug treatment centers outside of jail walls," the press release further stated.
Read More with Videos | Photos | Community Forum on Thursday, April 25
Previous Coverage: Sin Barras Speakout and March on April 6 in Solidarity with Prisoners
In a precedent-setting victory for fracking opponents, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal of the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled on March 31 that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold the leases without properly assessing the threat that fracking could pose to water, fish and wildlife. Some of these leases are within the Salinas River watershed, a habitat for endangered Central Coast steelhead.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. Many Delta advocates believe that the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used to deliver water to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas.
The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club that challenged a September 2011 BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies. “This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment — the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”
Steve Pleich writes:
The "revised" needle exchange will be operated by the County of Santa Cruz which can only provide services to county residents. As a practical matter, anyone requesting these services would be required to provide their name, address and some form of identification verifying this information. That's at least three (3) items of personal information which will then be in the hands of a governmental agency. While this information will likely be "confidential", it will not be "anonymous". This raises the question of whether or not law enforcement (which will have some oversight role in the revised program) will be able to access this information should they deem it in the interest of public safety.
Anonymity is fundamental to a successful exchange. Clients need to know and believe that their personal information will not be used for any purpose other than statistical compilation or accountancy. Additionally, although the previous exchange, Street Outreach Supporters (SOS)
, will evidently retain their role with respect to home delivery, those deliveries will be logged by and through County Health Services; creating a further possibility of uses other than statistical. One other concern is that pharmacies may elect to "opt out" of non-prescription syringe sales now permitted by state law. This would have the effect of further reducing opportunities for legal, regulated distribution and exchange.
Read More | Street Outreach Supporters
Bradley Allen went to the Santa Cruz County Courthouse steps with his camera on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, to cover a demonstration for Santa Cruz Indymedia, part of Indybay, at a time the Occupy movement was at its height. He assumed it would be similar to others he had recently been to, where people had rallied, marched, and picketed banks.
In the back of his mind was a thought—not necessarily bothering him at that moment, but there nonetheless—that one day he might become a target of repression for his reporting, and for his work in helping create Santa Cruz Indymedia, an internet platform for community issues that has not shied away from exposing wrongdoing by the police.
Read More |
Bradley's story in 2009 |
Photo Showing at People Power! Friday, April 5th
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
All Charges Dismissed Against Indybay Photojournalists Bradley and Alex
On March 15
, community members gathered at the plaza in Watsonville to remember people whose lives have been lost to violence. Speakers at the rally included youth, community leaders, and family members of lost loved ones. Artists, including poets, rappers, and painters, shared their skills with those in attendance.
As the sun went down, the event ended with a candlelight vigil and universal prayer. Special guests included City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Karina Cervantes, State Assemblymen Luis Alejo, City Councilmember Felipe Hernandez, City Councilmember Daniel Dodge, Rosa de Ramirez (mother), White Hawk Aztec Dancers, Ghambit, Cambio, Bocafloja, Dementes, DBD Music, DJ Mikey Mike Marquez, and others.
Read More and View Photos | Previous Coverage: Peace and Unity March 2012 in Watsonville
Motions to dismiss trespass and felony vandalism charges against four individuals charged in association with the 75 River Street bank occupation in Santa Cruz were denied by Judge Timothy Volkmann on March 11. Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, Franklin Alcantara, Brent Adams, and Cameron Laurendau have a trial date set for May, but that date will most likely be changed due to a case conflict with one of the defense attorneys.
Judge Volkmann agreed with the previous ruling by Judge Burdick in January that there was enough evidence to hold the four for trial on trespass charges, stressing there was a, "relatively low threshold for holding an individual over for trial."
"I don't see direct evidence of vandalism," Volkmann stated, but he agreed with Burdick that the four were still to be held accountable for felony vandalism charges under an aiding and abetting legal theory that maintains the damage to the building was a reasonably foreseeable result of the trespass.
Read More and View Photos | Santa Cruz Eleven: The Final Four Demand Dismissal of Charges | Support the Santa Cruz Eleven
Previous Coverage: Santa Cruz Eleven Down to Four
| Vacant Bank Occupied in Santa Cruz
3PM Monday May 20