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Center Column Archives
On January 27, about 100 citizens attended the Santa Cruz City Council meeting to demand the Council rescind its rushed approval of the Police Department's purchase of a fully armored vehicle, a BearCat. Activists claim Santa Cruz Police relied on questionable information about their need for an armored vehicle when they pushed the Council to approve this purchase, claiming it would take 3-4 hours for the nearest armored vehicle to arrive here from Santa Clara if needed. In fact, both the Sheriff's Department and the Scotts Valley Police Department have armored vehicles that can be quickly deployed.
Community members gathered in downtown Santa Cruz on Tax Day, April 15, to protest the U.S. government's military aid to Israel. According to If Americans Knew
, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976, and in the last 20 years economic aid to that country has been slowly phased out in favor of military aid. Israel receives about $3 billion ($8 million a day) directly from the United States in military financing each year, which is about one-fifth of what is allocated for the entire foreign aid budget.
On March 24, the California Department of Corrections, which practices culture jamming by "correcting" commercial advertisements, successfully modified a billboard in San Francisco to read, PAIN ISN'T ALWAYS OBVIOUS. LEARN THE SIGNS AT GUANTANAMO BAY. The ad comes two weeks after a landmark lawsuit, Hassan v. Obama, was brought before U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to end force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay. Hassan has been on hunger strike since 2005 and has allegedly experienced over 5,000 forced-feedings.
As the U.S. government marched towards war with Syria in late August, anti-war groups and activists across the state responded with two weeks of emergency demonstrations. The ANSWER Coalition organized a series of protests, and actions were planned for the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer. Events were also held at well known anti-war protest locations such as Peace Crossroads in San Jose and on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.
On July 27, the Canaan protest village was built for the fifth time on annexed Palestinian land in the middle of the illegal Gosh Ezion Colonial block next to the illegal settler colony of Migdal Oz. The nonviolent protesters stayed in the tent on their land for around an hour and a half before the Israeli occupation soldiers tore it down, violently repressing the demonstration. The tent village was built to remember the right of Palestinians to their land and to express solidarity with hunger strikers imprisoned for fighting for the Palestinian struggle.
Following the unauthorized release of information by Edward Snowden on June 7, the NSA has faced an unprecedented wave of public scrutiny. On July 23, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) "apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged" a billboard in San Francisco, one day before a U.S. House of Representatives vote that would have curtailed the NSA's surveillance inside the United States. On July 24th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would have eliminated funding for the agency’s vast phone data collection. The amendment was narrowly defeated by a margin of 205 to 217
On the morning of June 22, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched to the Israeli occupation military checkpoint blocking the West Bank from Jerusalem. There they were stopped by soldiers who violently prevented them from passing through. In reaction, the Palestinian activists prayed at the checkpoint, demonstrating their right to both freedom of movement within their own land and freedom to worship in Jerusalem.