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Last Night Parade Organizers' Civil Rights Violated by SCPD Spying, Report Says
Results of the independent investigation into Santa Cruz police spying on New Year's Eve parade planners were made public March 21. Bob Aaronson, the independent police auditor, concluded in his report that SCPD officers may not have violated any local laws or policies by infiltrating the group, but the undercover operation more than likely violated the civil rights of parade organizers. The report also said that while the organizers contemplated an act of civil disobedience, the minor infraction of parading without a permit does not justify violating anyone’s civil rights. Aaronson surmised that SCPD administrators made a hasty and ill-advised decision to infiltrate the group, with little consideration for their first amendment rights. Reporter-at-Large, Vinny Lombardo, recently spoke to Aaronson by telephone.
Police spying at the local level provides a chilling echo of national issues of domestic spying, the infiltrated group said in a press release. A broad coalition of Santa Cruz artists and activists are pressuring city council to put limits on police power and protect people's civil liberties. Rico Thunder is one of about 2 dozen "un" organizers of the Last Night parade who was a major focus of police surveillance. Reprter-at Large, Vinny Lombardo, recently sat down with Thunder, who discusses his thoughts on Aaronson's report.
The Public Safety Committee will meet at 7 PM on March 29, to discuss the results of the investigation, and make police surveillance policy recommendations.