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Center Column Archives
On May 14th, all charges against Indybay
photojournalists Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy were dismissed by Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick. The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office had argued, without any evidence, that Allen and Darocy were "the media arm of the organization, the group’s propagandists" for the occupation of the vacant Wells Fargo bank building at 75 River Street in late November, thereby validating Shmuel Thaler, a Santa Cruz Sentinel
photographer, as having been at the occupation as a bona fide journalist. Judge Burdick questioned the inconsistencies in the DA's argument and dismissed all charges.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed a brief as amicus curiae, on May 3rd, in support of Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy’s motion to dismiss, pursuant to Penal Code section 995, pending before the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Cruz. In the brief, ACLU of Northern California concludes, "The prosecution’s theories of liability for conspiracy to trespass and aiding and abetting trespass seek to punish Allen and Darocy for activity they engaged in that is protected by the First Amendment and the liberty of speech clause of the California Constitution."
On May 4th, community members gathered at the Santa Cruz Courthouse for a press conference and rally to demand District Attorney Bob Lee drop the charges against the Santa Cruz Eleven, who have all been charged with felonies arising from the occupation of a vacant bank building last fall. Organizers of the rally believe the DA should, "re-examine the basis for the charges, and the Court must ensure that these activists are not being selectively prosecuted." Approximately 100 people were in attendance at the courthouse rally, and after a brief press conference that had seven of the Santa Cruz Eleven introducing themselves, the group marched through downtown Santa Cruz.
WILPF–Santa Cruz Branch writes,
The Santa Cruz Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) condemns the action of local law enforcement in attempting to prosecute eleven local activists who are alleged to have occupied the long-deserted bank building at Water and River Streets last fall. Four of the defendants are journalists, who were present to report to the community on the protests. The First Amendment is clear on the rights of journalists to observe and print their findings; the charges against them should be dropped immediately.
On April 18th, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in New York City. The seized server was operated by the European Counter Network (“ECN”), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe, who, among many other things, provided an anonymous remailer service, Mixmaster, that was the target of an FBI investigation into a series of bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh.
Congress is currently considering HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill that purports to protect the United States from “cyber threats”. This legislation would create a gaping loophole in all existing privacy laws. If CISPA, as the bill is called, passes, companies could vacuum up huge swaths of data on everyday internet users and share it with government agencies without a court order. Internet privacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press say that CISPA uses dangerously vague language to define the breadth of data that can be shared with the government.
ACLU–Santa Cruz Chapter writes,
"Eleven local activists have been charged with a variety of offenses arising from the occupation of a vacant bank building last fall. We have two primary concerns regarding this prosecution. First, at least some of the defendants are journalists who were present to report on the protest. We condemn any attempt to criminalize their exercise of the crucial First Amendment right to gather and disseminate information about this newsworthy event. All charges based on this constitutionally protected activity should be dropped immediately. Second, it appears that some of the defendants may have been charged due to their past adversarial relationship with law enforcement officials."