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Indybay Feature
Wed Jan 11 2006
Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers
Undercover Officers Spying on Grassroots Santa Cruz New Year's Parade Meetings
Santa Cruz, CA, December 31st, 2005: As the nation reels from fresh revelations about domestic spying, local law enforcement agencies are caught infiltrating local groups. Undercover officers from the Santa Cruz Police Department have been spying on peaceful parade organizers since September of this year. Two plainclothes officers attended small organizing meetings held in private homes, giving false names, phone numbers, and email addresses to hide their identity while they monitored meetings and profiled organizers.

The officers participated in meetings, asked questions and even made suggestions. "In no way did they indicate that they were police. They came off as just a couple of local surfer dudes," said Rico Thunder, one of the people who came together to help plan the parade.

The infiltrated group was organizing the Last Night Santa Cruz Parade and Celebration, a people’s parade, a do-it-yourself celebration that goes beyond the city-sponsored First Night event, canceled this year due to money problems. The Last Night website (lastnightdiy.org) states: “Last Night is a completely organic event, organized and put on at a grassroots-level. No city-sponsorship. No corporate donors. It’s a do-it-yourself parade and celebration. We make it happen together.”

"Since 9/11, we've created a culture in which security is more important than liberty." said Thunder. "The NSA is tapping your phone calls and email. The Pentagon is infiltrating your peace march. Actions at the federal level have a trickle down effect that has emboldened local law enforcement. When the president says 'Safety at any cost,' local cops take that to heart." [Read more]

see also: An open letter to the Santa Cruz City Council in protest of police infiltration: || Police Infiltration of Parade Politically Motivated

LastNight comments: Our sources within the department say City Manager Richard Wilson and Deputy Chief of Police Kevin Vogel are the persons most responsible. The city council has little say in day to day operations of this kind. Make your demands to the city council that the city manager and the police chief be held accountable.
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