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After seven years of stagnant wages, city workers who have been economically shut out of Santa Cruz marched from the Town Clock to City Hall on May 26 to hand-deliver a letter from the community to the City Council, demanding a response to the need for a living wage, affordable housing and community investment for all. Seven demonstrators were arrested after they stood before the podium and locked arms, and then refused to leave Council Chambers.
On May 24, the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs was marked with a six hour party in Santa Cruz. Those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services. By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry.
On May 23, families and loved ones of people in solitary confinement, and advocates from community organizations, held the third Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California. In Santa Cruz, about 25 people rallied at the entrance to the Municipal Wharf, where locals and tourists found two large banners, storyboards exposing the realities of solitary confinement, signs, and educational literature about solitary confinement in Santa Cruz and California.
A local citizen first reported an oil spill coming from a leak in the pipeline at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara at around noon on May 19. Coast Guard crews stopped the oil leak by 3 p.m., but as much as 105,000 gallons were released, with tens of thousands of gallons going into the ocean. The company that owns the pipeline involved in the spill has had 175 incidents (mostly oil spills) nationwide since 2006, including 11 in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of federal documents.
The first successful Santa Cruz County referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15. Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county. 7,248 valid signatures are required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
Community members in East Salinas held a vigil on May 9 to mark the day 26-year-old Osmar Hernandez was killed by Salinas Police in 2014. Osmar's family members were in attendance; Maria Guardado-Hernandez spoke, and Asuncion Guardado stood by solemnly while holding a lit votive candle. Also in attendance were the family members of two other men killed by Salinas Police in 2014, Frank Alvarado and Angel Ruiz.
Students at UC Santa Cruz occupied the Stevenson Coffee House for a short period of time on April 27 to expose a person they say is a known rapist who is presently employed at the business. The small cafe, which is privately owned and operated under a lease with the university, is located within Stevenson College on the east side of the UCSC campus.