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The Kincade Fire has created a calamitous path through Northern California’s wine country, forcing nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes. Many of them are reliving the disastrous fire that raged through the same area in 2017. On October 25, PG&E admitted its electrical equipment may have ignited the inferno, despite electrical blackouts imposed across Northern California to prevent blazes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, activists say we need to replace private control of utilities. Two new campaigns, Let's Own PG&E and Utility Justice Campaign, are calling for a publicly-accountable takeover of the monopoly. Protests have been held in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and other cities.
Fri Oct 11 2019 (Updated 10/12/19)
Union Members Strike at Janus of Santa Cruz
National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) members at Janus of Santa Cruz held their first-ever strike on September 26, after management imposed a first contract that did not remedy poverty wages that have forced many workers to find new jobs. In the nearly two years since Janus workers joined NUHW, more than 60 percent of them have left for other jobs. With its workforce in constant flux, state records show that Janus is serving fewer clients and forcing more of them to wait for services that were once immediately accessible, worsening Santa Cruz’s addiction crisis.
On September 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution designating the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) a domestic terrorist organization. Supervisor Catherine Stefani said she drafted the resolution in response to the July 28 shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which killed 3 people and wounded 15 others. The NRA retaliated by filing a lawsuit against city and county of San Francisco and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Separately, Bay Area groups for stricter gun laws held rallies in response to the week of mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Demonstrators staged sit-ins on September 3 in the men's and women's restrooms at Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz, effectively keeping the facilities open to the public for an extended period of time. Once open to all, the Louden Nelson restrooms have been closed to the public since 2018, which staff claims is due to complaints of vandalism and drug use. Those at the demonstration were particularly concerned about the effects the restroom closures have had on homeless residents in the area, who often congregate in the park adjacent to the Louden Nelson Center where there are no other services.
In the wake of an alleged assault on a middle school student in the San Lorenzo Valley, Captain Daniel Bonfante, formerly of the Felton Fire Protection District, has called for vigilante justice against homeless people, who he blames for the majority of crime in the area. On August 21 on Instagram, Bonfante called for community members to "get the posse together" and "let the rift raft know that we are vigilant". "99% of all crime is homeless in Felton right now," Bonfante said. "They are getting aggressive and don't care anymore."
Joe Netro, who authors the Santa Cruz, CA: Keepin' It Real hate blog anonymously as 'Big Joe 77', has admitted to creating a fake news story over the course of multiple blog posts about California State Assembly Bill 516 (AB 516). Netro apologized to his followers on August 22 for the "confusion", calling the multiple false posts he made a "mistake". "If you have lost the trust and would like to track this Bill for yourself, here's the link," Netro wrote.
A "Wear Orange" walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on June 8 recognized the gun violence epidemic and . honored its victims. Orange was the color Hadiya Pendleton, murdered at the age of fifteen in Chicago, wore and has become the symbol of the movement for gun safety laws. It was one of hundreds of events across the country organized by chapters of Mom Demands Action for Gun Sense in America and other organizations that promote non-violence. At the Marin overlook, protesters holding photos of lost loved ones gathered around the statue, The Lonely Sailor.
Fri Apr 12 2019 (Updated 04/27/19)
People’s Park 50th Anniversary
People’s Park has been the site of continual struggle for decades. Students and demonstrators took over the park from UC Berkeley in 1969 as a staging ground for activism and protests. In the following decades, the university has tried again on numerous occasions to develop the park, but People’s Park continues to be a rallying point for community activists. In honor of the People’s resistance, two weeks of events with music, tree planting, spoken word, and activist speakers will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of People's Park. A free concert kicks off the celebration on April 13 and events run through April 28. On May 1, a "Hold the Land" demonstration kicks off.
Margot Goldstein and Rachel Lederman write: Our community institutions should create venues for genuine discussions about how to confront oppression. Manny’s does not accomplish the goal of “civic discourse” on social justice because it contributes to racist gentrification and supports the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The boycott of Manny’s is the community standing up to Yekutiel’s opportunistic attempt to exploit social justice for profit while perpetuating and supporting the destructive politics of gentrification and Zionism.
A coalition of local and community groups hosted a town hall in the East Bay town of Rodeo on March 7, drawing over 150 people to discuss the risks of a proposal by Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like tar sands. The tar sands expansion proposal would impact local health and the climate by increasing refinery emissions and worsening air quality for nearby communities while also increasing tanker traffic and the risk of a devastating oil spill in the San Francisco Bay Area.
On Tuesday, March 12 at 7pm, the Santa Cruz City Council will decide how to proceed on the establishment of transitional homeless encampments and safe parking locations within the city. Despite the giant presence of anti-homeless community members at the previous meeting on February 26, council members voted to remove the closure date of the Heroes Camp, a large homeless encampment between Highway 1 and Gateway Plaza, until more shelter options are made available to its residents.
Mon Mar 11 2019 (Updated 03/20/19)
New Hate Blog in Santa Cruz is Gaining Followers
The new hate blog "Santa Cruz, CA: Keepin' It Real" has gradually been gaining followers since its founding in 2017. It is written under the pen name "Big Joe 77" by Joe Netro, a self-described "cop" who is retired from working 26 years as a correctional officer at Soledad state prison. He also volunteers with the Santa Cruz Police Department, and he served as a member of the 2016-17 Santa Cruz County Grand Jury which issued a controversial, and some say biased, report critical of the county's Syringe Services Program. Recently, Netro has joined Take Back Santa Cruz member Steve Schlicht's "Santa Mierda Podcast Network," appearing on multiple podcasts.
In shocking news to the Santa Cruz activist community, Sherry Conable passed away on February 4. Sherry participated in and organized countless political demonstrations and anti-war events over the course of decades in the Santa Cruz area. On March 8, a celebration of Sherry's life was held at Peace United Church, where family and friends wore the color pink to honor Sherry's work with CodePink.
Tue Feb 26 2019 (Updated 03/02/19)
Save the Redstone Building
For more than a century, the Redstone Labor Temple has served as a hub for labor, social service, and non-profit community groups in San Francisco. The owner of the building wants to sell and is asking for $25 million. At the price the owner wants, all of the leases would rise dramatically and existing tenants would, in all likelihood, be displaced. On 6pm, Wednesday, February 27, organizers are holding a rally and community event to honor 104 years of economic and social justice at the Redstone and to work for a community solution.
Mon Jan 21 2019 (Updated 01/24/19)
Reclaiming King's Radical Legacy
For the 5th year running, the Anti Police-Terror Project called Bay Area residents into the streets for the People’s March to Reclaim Martin Luther King Jr’s Radical Legacy. In Oakland, events ran from 8am to 8pm. San Francisco marched in honor of MLK and several labor unions spoke out against outsourcing and privatization. Fresno and Santa Cruz also marched. Other events were held in cities across Northern California.

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