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Updates: Three Harassment Tickets by an SCPD Officer This Morning
Yesterday morning I recorded a number of interesting interviews with Occupy Santa Cruz (OSC) folks which I'll hope to play on Thursday's night Free Radio show 6-8 PM. I also spoke with Chris ("Commander X") Doyon who has been living down there for the past three weeks. I pass on his report. With Oakland and San Jose Occupations under serious police assault, I encourage folks to join an emergency phone tree to support, resist, and/or witness any attempt to crack down on the Occupation here. Go to http://occupysantacruz.org/contact/ to contact an on-line access point for OSC, or go down to the protest and sign up. Or go down and set up your own tent.
DEALING WITH DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR
Yesterday I delivered some coffee to the protest around 8:30 AM as well as to individuals excluded because of violent disagreements. I recorded both sides of a dispute which I'll play Thursday night. The relevant thing was that the issue was resolved by OSC and dissidents without police or physical injury.
Even more moving to hear was the following reconciliation. Tank, a homeless Camp Alliance activist, was hit in the face by "Drunk Joe" (I may have the name wrong) with Joe then excluded from the camp after some heavy extended ruckus early Sunday morning. However later Sunday, Tank reported, Joe returned apologized, shook hands with him, in an act of apology and forgiveness. Disruptions happen, Chris notes, and people deal with them on an ad hoc basis.
For Chris, it's not the use of drink or drugs, but abusive behavior that's the issue. Chris strongly approves the posted "no drinking or drugs" rules (which I'm less happy with) because it encourages people who do so to do so discreetly or off site.
Chris gets passionate when reflecting on drinkers or tweekers. "Take your bottle elsewhere." As to the claim that the park has been the traditional "home" of lots of homeless folks (illegal but actual), he says, "no, the river bottom is where folks have lived, not in the benchlands." "Girl scouts and other groups can meet here; why can't we without interference?" When protesters want to enjoy a six pack after a hard day of picketing, cleaning, organizing, and recruiting, they go off site. Chris acknowledged that alcohol is an addiction and did note that some alcoholics are active workers in OSC. Or they keep a discreet low profile. "I don't judge people for their addictions, but simply hold them to a civil standard."
I tend to be more skeptical of Open Container laws, "No Drink and Drugs" rules if used as a strictly enforced club. I'm wary of mob scenes that can develop "to enforce rules", because, as Chris pointed out in the march to the SCPD on Saturday, "the cop within us" is eager to control and repress. Skidmark Bob Duran, a local musician, long-time activist and original community organizer of Santa Cruz Copwatch and the Serf City Banner put it well with his song "Kill the Cop Within You".
Disruptive incidents may distract, but they are minor compared to the broad sweep of what is happening. Often they become a false focus instead of the day-to-day institutional violence of folks losing their homes, vehicles, dignity, and friends in a system that has resources but no pity. This is the real violence that OSC has formed to fight.
Chris D. reported the camp is doing fine and growing (more than 50 people last night--I counted almost that many tents on Monday morning when I was down there).
FIRST TICKETS AT THE SAN LORENZO BENCHLANDS CAMP
On the negative side in the wake of the violent police actions against Occupy Oakland of several hours ago, Chris noted that a chunky SCPD cop, while on patrol taking photos of the camp, as apparently happens every morning, took time out to issue three citations--the first Chris has heard of. One was for heating coffee over an open fire (something that may have been happening every morning). Another was for riding a bike on the grass. A third was for "destroying vegetation".
It's been my perception that campers have been particularly concerned about respecting the environment--moving the tents regularly, setting up "do'nt walk on the grass areas", etc. Sounds like the officer involved may have succumbed to the temptation of using his badge, gun, and ticketbook or perhaps let off his leash by those above? No clear information. If anyone has the name of the cop or the victims, please post them. Moyne
Chris noted that Noah Shepardson was part of a nationwide phone conference with Occupy's throughout the nation and will be reporting on that later today at the 6 PM General Assembly.
CAUTION AGAINST ELTISM, SECRECY, AND COMMANDEERING
Chris also had some critical comments about some leaders and politicians who want to commandeer things. He said what gave him faith is that the consensus process can screen that out. Forceful speakers like Ed Frey "can't dominate people with long fucking speeches".
I myself had a tiff with legal worker Steve Pleich a few days ago. I'm a member of the Legal Committee and saw Steve talking with attorney Brian Murtha about a proposed Injunction to protect the protest. Steve refused to share the proposed Injunction, insisting it was all "in confidence." Ed came over and agreed that we needed to have an open transparent process and that such documents needed to be shown. Still Pleich refused and announced "we're done!", walking away. Steve is an articulate and hard-working guy, but secrecy and elitist expertise is part of what we're fighting here. We don't need issues cooked up in closed rooms and then sprung like a baked cake and pushed through using "expert" credentials. It's also wise to be wary of those seeking conventional political power, since that often involves deals with the very authorities who legitimacy we were challenging.
Chris noted he'd seen little sign of city councilmembers lurking about. Noted Chris, "unlike those with calcified agendas, I have a lot of fuckin' faith in the kids" who are the backbone of the movement.
Chris noted there may be some spiffy new signs coming up. Two anonymous donors have volunteered lawn signs. Another is donating $150 pizza money per week for 12 pizzas. He also said there was a full treasury.
Prisoners coming out of jail from across the street sometimes stop by the camp in search of support. One asked for a got a blanket, Chris reports. and then noticed him leaving with it. Only two hours later he returned with the blanket folded and laundered and half a dozen bags of groceries as donation.
For the more conventional politicos, I got the following e-mail: "
The People's Democratic Club of Santa Cruz County's October Meeting will explore how to participate in and how to support OCCUPY SANTA CRUZ, the Occupy movement in general, and what can we learn from OCCUPY. Various folk familiar with OSC and OWS will share their experiences and perspective. The meeting is Thursday, October 27, at 7:00 PM, in the Galleria Bldg., 740 Front Street, #165, Santa Cruz, CA (the building next to the Riverfront Twin Cinemas, in the suite next to Dave's Computer Services). The meeting is open, free, and accessible. Contact: Brian Murtha, bmurt [at] cruzio.com
And in Cincinnatii, cops moved against Occupy Cincinnati, in spite of the protest filing for an Injunction: http://sentientcincinnati.com/2011/10/21/piatt-park-occupiers-arrested-tents-dismantled/ . http://communitypress.cincinnati.com/article/AB/20111017/NEWS0108/110180323/Occupy-Cincinnati-sues-city-over-citations .
Tip of the hat to Alex Darocy for alerting us to the twitter website to (sort of) track arrests: https://twitter.com/#!/OccupyArrests It's still a little unclear to me which cities are getting busted (as in an ongoing list). If anyone has any info, please post...
LARGE SHOWING AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING YESTERDAY
Chris Doyon reported to me that Councilmember Madrigal came by Occupy Santa Cruz on Tuesday morning and said he'd present an emergency resolution to protect Santa Cruz from the kind of violent suppression of civil liberties happening in Oakland and other cities. Apparently Madrigal didn't carry through on his promise, nor did Vice-Mayor Don Lane, who also reportedly said he'd second such a motion.
In response Doyon organized a small march to City Council at 3 PM, of about a dozen people, which swelled to a nearly full chamber of participants at 5 PM during Mayor Coonerty's segregated Oral Communications period. One articulate and passionate speaker followed another, some inviting, some denouncing City Council, but almost all urging them to rein in any police attack.
City Council seems terminally timid and coopted by the SCPD and Downtown Association. The same meeting saw City Council unanimously rubberstamped a 50's era Pacific Avenue regression reinstituting two-way traffic in spite of no stats showing a business improvement in other cities that took the same course. Business brainaics have apparently been Occupying Downtown and now want to expel any residue of communal space down there as they desperately try to "fix" the depression. Earlier such attempts such as over-policing, panhandler-punishing parking meters, and anti-homeless "Sitting Ban" laws having apparently not "worked".
J.M. Brown completely ignored the Occupy Santa Cruz protest at City Council though it actually forced Mayor Coonerty (for the first time that I remember) to explain why he was texting during a meeting. As usual Coonerty crunched Oral Communications to 2 minutes per speaker and maintained his "speak only if you're spoken to" position on the Consent Agenda items. (In most other cities, members of the public have the right to speak on the Consent Agenda items individually that make up 75% of the Council's business--not in Santa Cruz, thanks to Coonerty).
I'll be playing that Oral Communications period tomorrow on the stream of free radio at 6:30 PM (http://www.freakradio.org). It'll also be archived a day later at http://www.huffsantacruz.org.
With blatant crackdowns the order of the day in places like Oakland, San Jose, Chicago and elsewhere, I hope Occupy Santa Cruz supporters are considering a Roust Response (advice for folks coming down in response to an emergency call when there's a real police raid, a plan to return and restore the Occupation once that happens, and doublechecking to be sure that folks aren't called down on "wolf" false calls). I also suggest that individuals each adopt one city in California as a sister city and keep tabs on what's happening there--particularly the hot spots--as well as setting up a liaison person in that city.
SACRAMENTO FIGHTBACK AND VICTORIES
Just as the Oakland community returned to reclaim its space facing down police violence and teargas last night, Sacramento has been waging a street and legal struggle to restore basic political rights in that city. See below.
(most recent story first)