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Responding to Sheriff Wowak's Whitewash of Abuse By His Deputies

by Robert Norse
Apparently Sheriff Wowak feels that the best defense is an smelly offense. A Friday Press Release below justifies the nightly raids against Occupy Santa Cruz, seizing signs, tents, and personal effects. The technique is somewhat similar to the Coonerty-Lane City Council's poo-poo/pee-pee Injunction. (currently pending before federal court to examine the real First Amendment issues instead of the spurious health pretexts raised by the City). Throw a lot of shit, needles, and "violence" noise at the media and hope that will mask the police violence and the real agenda of removing the protest through a bureaucratic crackdown. I responded by sending Wowak a Public Records Act Request. Both Wowak's press statement and my PRA request are repeated below.

County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean Street, Suite 340, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 454-2985 FAX: (831) 454-2353

Phil Wowak
Sheriff’s Media Release

Location of Incident: Santa Cruz County Building, 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz
Description: Disruptive and Criminal Activities around the County Building Associated with the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment

Description of Incident:
During the past month, there have been approximately 85 reported disruptive incidents in and around the County building associated with the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment and demonstrations sites. There have been fights, an assault on a maintenance worker, thefts, drug use, vandalism of publicly displayed artwork, and restroom flooding in and around the Government Center. Anti-social behavior has included harassment, public drunkenness, public urination and defecation, bathing in public sinks, use of and damage to power outlets, and camping outside the area permitted by the City of Santa Cruz.
Since October 6, 2011, Sheriff’s deputies have distributed notices of unlawful lodging to the individuals on the court steps, issued citations, and arrested several
The Sheriff’s Office supports the rights of freedom of speech and assembly. The Sheriff’s Office recognizes there are individuals who have opportunistically associated themselves with Occupy Santa Cruz as cover for criminal and anti-social behavior. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to defend the rights of all people to demonstrate in a lawful manner, protect the public, and enforce the law.

Press Release Prepared by: Deputy April Skalland
Press Release Approved by: Lt. Craig Wilson
Date/Time of Media Release: 11/18/11 at 12:30 p.m.

November 19, 2011

Sheriff Phil Wowak
Santa Cruz, California 95060

re: Written & electronic communications and all documentation concerning your (attached below) Press Release of November 18th and any contacts with or discussion of the Occupy Santa Cruz protest in any of the alleged incidents referenced in that release.

Dear Sheriff Wowak:

I am writing to to further the civil rights of Occupy Santa Cruz participants and to inform the media about the County of Santa Cruz's reaction to the Occupy Santa Cruz movement.

Specifically, under rights granted me by the CPRA (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I am requesting all written and electronic communications between your office, other affected agencies, and the public concerning teh attached memo and any contacts with or discussion of the Occupy Santa Cruz protest as described in that memo or any of the incidents referred to therein

As these records are of great public interest, since they will be made available to the news media being carbon copied, I ask you to waive any exemptions to disclosing these records.

I ask:

if you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, whether the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.
in case you decide that any of the information is exempt, please explain how the interest in not disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.
in case you decide that any responsive records are exempt from disclosure please list them and the claimed exemptions for me so that I may exercise my due process rights in disputing the exemption and otherwise exercise my rights under the CPRA in a court or law.
if you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.
if there is any information in these records which is private and you decide it is exempt information, yet it is in an otherwise disclosable document, please segregate the private information by redacting it while providing me the rest of the unredacted record.
if these documents are available in an electronic format such as Portable Document Format (PDF), eXtensible Style Language (XLS), MS Word Document (DOC), Rich Text Format (RTF), plain electronic text (TXT), native email formats — like AOL for Windows, Apple Mail, Claris Emailer, Compuserve, EML, Entourage, Eudora, HTM(L), Maildir, MBOX File, Mulberry, Neoplanet, Outlook, Outlook Express, Outspring, Powertalk, Quickmail Pro, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Yahoo Archive! — that they be provided to me in one of those forms, preferably in their native form.
additionally, if any of the information that might otherwise not be disclosed requires an afidavit to be sworn regarding this being done for a journalistic purpose, please so advise me.

Please make this information available in e-mail form for me to review. If that does not exist, I would like to view it in hard copy before determining if I want to pay for copies.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding this request, please contact me with them.

Robert Norse
rnorse3 [at]
Add Your Comments
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Ed Natol
Mon, Nov 28, 2011 10:13PM
Robert Norse
Sun, Nov 20, 2011 9:30PM
Sun, Nov 20, 2011 3:21PM
Sun, Nov 20, 2011 10:10AM
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