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Wells Fargo Closes During Demonstration in Solidarity with 75 River St. Arrestees
by Bradley Stuart (bradley [at]
Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
On February 15th, a few dozen people, organized through Occupy Santa Cruz, demonstrated in front of the Wells Fargo banking branch at 74 River Street in Santa Cruz, California. The demonstration was in solidarity with 11 people criminally charged on February 7th for the occupation of a former bank building located across the street at 75 River St., now owned by Wells Fargo and sitting vacant, which began on November 30th, 2011.

Demonstrators held signs that read, "Arrest the Real Criminals", "Bank$ter$ Laundered $300 Billion for the Mexican Drug Cartels", "Stop Foreclosures", "Drop the Charges Against the Santa Cruz Eleven", "Community Spaces Not Vacant Places", and "Occupy Earth". The protest began at 3:00pm, and by 3:40pm, Wells Fargo had locked their doors and instructed their private security guards to inform customers that the bank was closed.

In an announcement for the demonstration, Occupy Santa Cruz wrote, "22 felony charges have been filed against 11 peaceful Santa Cruz activists while banksters, such as those at Wells Fargo, who launder drug cartel money, illegally repossess our homes using forged foreclosure documents, and reward themselves with hundreds of millions in bonuses of our tax dollars walk free. Demand the arrest and prosecution of the real criminals: The Banksters."
[Photo: Santa Cruz police officers, sitting in a marked police car, surveil the demonstration from the parking lot of 75 River Street.]
§Arrest the Real Criminals
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Bank$ter$ Laundered $300 Billion for the Mexican Drug Cartels
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Occupy Santa Cruz
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Stop Foreclosures
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Democracy is Coming to the U.S.A.
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Wells Fargo is Closed
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Wells Fargo Shuts Doors
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Drop the Charges Against the Santa Cruz Eleven
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Dirty Deeds of Wells Fargo
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Occupy Earth
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Wells Fargo Customers are Turned Away
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Customers Told to Try Another Wells Fargo
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Community Spaces Not Vacant Places
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Wells Fargo at 74 River Street
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM
§Wells Fargo at 75 River Street
by Bradley Stuart Wednesday Feb 15th, 2012 11:03 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Robert Norse
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 5:04 AM
Pointed and educational photos, Bradley.

If anyone has any photos or video of the subsequent police action, that would be great.

Officers Winston and Warren provoked an angry response from about half of the 50-60 protesters. They sat in their squad car across the street, apparently videoing the peaceful protest—a form of surveillance I'd thought was unconstitutional, but then that's apparently S.O.P. these days.

At some point they left their cars, walked across the street, moved into the crowd of folkd holding signs, and physically grabbed a protester. They then dragged him across the street as he demanded to know what was going on. First they accused him of trespass. He pointed out he had a Wells Fargo card and was trying to use the ATM machine there. They then accused him of "vandalism" (sound familiar?), saying he'd wrapped some yellow tape emblazoned with the words "crime scene—do not cross" around a Wells Fargo sign on the edge of the property. Since it was clear that no damage had been done by the tape, it seemed to be a frivolous charge.

In fact, later I wondered why the police didn't demand the security guard return the tape to its owner. The tape was surely private property and a First Amendment device to identify Wells Fargo to the community as a criminally predatory lending institution and property speculator.. The security guard refused my pleas to mend the error of his ways and give back the tape to its rightful owner, instead demanding that

After much hubbub and hassle, Warren and Wilson let the man go. But that wasn't all.

Sgt. Garner arrived on the scene with more officers (ultimately there were at least five squad cars and a motorcycle). He tried to force reporters and photographers away from Warren and Winston. (Garner earned the name "Grim Grip" Garner from me back in 1998 when he assaulted socialist Steve Argue for selling a street newspaper in front of New Leaf in what was clearly exposed later as an unlawful arrest. See and )

Two more police officers harassed a man on probation/parole with a body search, with no articulated reasonable suspicion in what seemed an obvious retaliation to the man's presence at the protest. A third woman, a short female journalist was reduced to tears by being physically grabbed, interrogated, and ID-checked—apparently for "walking in the bike lane".

Presiding over all of this was Deputy-Chief Steve Clark, who showed up with his usual smug smile, and a series of explicit insults, denouncing protesters. Clark's platoon then set up its own "Crime Scene—Do Not Cross" tape across the parking lot they were standing in, and stood there in a line for half an hour surveilling the protesters. Why?

I was reminded of Clark's classic response back in 1996 when he was a sergeant covering City Hall. At that time homeless protesters held an 8 ½ month vigil trying to end the sleeping and blanket bans (MC 6.36.010a and 6.36.010b), which criminalize sleeping outside or covering up with blankets after 11 PM. Clark cited several protesters for their blankets, then confiscated them. "Why are you taking our only protection against the cold?" asked one protester, "when you can simply take photos of them?"

"Because I can," replied Clark.

At the protest Wednesday, I did a lot of speaking up as police carried out these abusive actions. However, I encourage people to remember that what you say can be held against you and may be recorded. Keep an eye on the witnesses around you. Don't make threats or clearly hostile gestures. While I encourage folks to not allow their free speech rights to be intimidated by police activity. it's also important to know that given the current round of delayed charges, police may be gathering information to seek criminal charges at a later time.

Still, letting oneself be intimidated into silence is not a good option either. It's a balance.

I'll be playing some audio and commentary at 6 PM tonight at 101.3 FM ( . Call in at 831-427-3772.

The Sentinel, which chose not to cover the protest, did give us this latest "update":

City on a Hill, Good Times, and perhaps Santa Cruz Patch were also there, so check their websites for their coverage.

Congratulations to Bradley for a great story and photos and to those participating for a peaceful and pointed protest in spite of police surveillance and harassment.

Since many journalists, members of the public, and city officials went in and out of 75 River St. without being advised it was trespass or any other kind of hindrance from the police department, which now declares these behaviors criminal trespass, I encourage brave souls in the community to stand up and state what actually happened, so that the courts may see just how abusive, selective, and political these charges are.

Contact attorney Ed Frey at 479-8911 if you have any inclination in this direction or were witness to this process.
by ah mee go
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 9:58 AM
sorry i couldn't make it but i am always there w/ you lovely activistas in spirit! and hey, gotta keep the pressure up on lessening/dismissing the charges - thank you for the photo reporting Bradley!
by Winston
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 3:41 PM
You didn't realize that going onto that property without the owner's permission was criminal trespass? You, our resident legal eagle? Really? No, really?
by circle that fucking a
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 3:54 PM
Not a matter of knowing it was criminal trespassing or not, if you ask me, if city council members walking in are exempt from prosecution but independent journalists are not. I don't think it is an accident that the bulk of the people hit with warrants for 75R are essentially a who's who ensemble of people the SCPD has had on their shitlist for a long time. On the upside, its kinda nice to see Mr. Norse getting treated as an equal with the occupy/homeless folks he claims to speak for/be fighting for in the eyes of the law, instead of using the homeless as cannon fodder for whatever cause is on his mind at the moment.

And yes, Officer Winston, many people went into that building, knowing full fucking well that it was criminal trespassing, just to see what was going on to decide if they supported it or not. Or in the case o at least two people I know, just to see what the inside looked like, and I hardly think that makes them felons or liable for damage/vandalism/conspiracy. Clark himself said in the paper the other day, "If you went into that building, then it is obvious you are responsible for the damages to it."

If it were any other city, I would be confident that the judge would be laughing themselves to tears at the police overzealous temper-tantrum that seems to be fueling this crackdown..... but Marigonda will probably agree with every word DA Lee has to say, like a good obedient puppet.
by 0909
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 4:58 PM
Thank you for the solidarity! ♥
by brentugly
Thursday Feb 16th, 2012 9:51 PM
Thank you B!! Your many years of service here and beautiful photos have been a blessing to our community.

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