Supporters packed a Santa Cruz courtroom on March 17 for preliminary hearings concerning the six UCSC students who were arrested for blocking traffic on Highway 17 on March 3 to protest tuition increases. The hearing was the first time all six of those arrested have appeared together in court, and they all have legal representation now. None have pleaded guilty to the charges they face, which include misdemeanors for "resisting arrest" and creating a "public nuisance."
A video has surfaced of Santa Cruz Police hitting and tasing Oliver Howard in front of the Court House on October 13, in what multiple witnesses called excessive force at the time. The woman who recorded the video can be heard saying, "I hate cops" and "this is so fucked up" as the events unfolded. After the violent takedown by officers, Howard was taken directly to the hospital. He was never booked into jail and apparently was never charged with any crime. Since that time, a witness complaint with Santa Cruz PD has triggered an external review.
Students at UC Santa Cruz concluded four days of protests against tuition and fee increases with a campus-wide strike and shut down on March 5. Dubbed "96 Hours of Action," demonstrations were held March 2 to 5 at schools across California to highlight the relationship of racist mass incarceration to the privatization of education. Thousands of people in Santa Cruz were affected on March 3 when six students locked themselves together to block highway traffic.
Amilcar Perez-Lopez was a 21-year-old man from Guatemala, living and working in the Mission District. Amilcar and his household were facing eviction at the end of March. On February 26, plain clothes SFPD officers Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli shot and killed Amilcar. Police have stated he was in the process of stealing a bicycle, but that claim is called into question by a number of witnesses, some who say the cyclist had stolen Amilcar's phone. Witnesses have reported being intimidated and bullied by SFPD since Amilcar's murder.
In October, a new law went into effect in the City of Monterey making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks in commercial districts. In response, activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk along Alvarado Street in Downtown Monterey on February 13, and they say they plan to make it a regular event. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) organized the demonstration because they believe the law targets individuals without homes, travelers, and the impoverished.
On February 7 an Oakland Police Department officer shot at — but missed — a man who was reportedly having a mental health crisis. Later that day, Oakland city officials bragged in a press release that OPD had not shot anybody for twenty months. However, in the last thirteen months five people have been shot and killed by law enforcement in Oakland, it just happens that they were not killed by members of the Oakland Police Department. Jacorey Calhoun was shot and killed by an Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy in August of last year.
Steve Schnaar writes:
Nearly two years ago, a Santa Cruz police officer injured a homeless man who was already in handcuffs, slamming him face-first into the ground. Caught on video by a bystander, the incident got a lot of attention and the SCPD promised to do a formal investigation. However the results of that investigation have been kept secret, and meanwhile the offending officer is still on the job with no apparent consequences.