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Impromptu Conversation Between DA Bob Lee and Two of the Santa Cruz Eleven
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 4:37 PM
Two members of the Santa Cruz Eleven, in addition to several other community members and activists, had a brief opportunity to speak with Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee when he parked his car at the court house near a homelessness issues event being held at San Lorenzo Park on July 17th. Becky Johnson and Robert Norse are among the eleven people known as the "Santa Cruz Eleven" who were charged with two felonies each in association with the Fall 2011 occupation of the vacant bank building located at 75 River Street. When they saw DA Bob Lee drive up, they immediately engaged him in conversation about the serious charges they feel they and others are wrongly facing.
The short conversation facilitated a variety of new insights into the DA's handling of the case. When it was pointed out that these charges were among the most serious leveled by any district attorney in the country for an occupy-related event, Lee responded, "$30,000 in damage, come up with the money and we will have a different situation."

Perhaps the comment was an example of "verbal shorthand" on the part of the DA, and it relied on statistics too informally gathered to place the damage of the event into an accurate context nationally, but the DA's office has never offered deals to any of the defendants where they could just pay damages and walk away without pleading guilty to serious criminal charges.

According to Lee, after spending 73 hours going through the videotape evidence provided by the Santa Cruz Police Department trying to identify people, they were not able to identify anyone, and they then returned the task to the police for them to resume the process. This somewhat contradicts public statements previously made by the SCPD. Also, this is the first public mention of how extensively the DA's office has examined the police videos, and comes as strange news to some of the defendants, including Robert Norse, who have been unsuccessfully attempting to obtain that video evidence for months now.

DA Lee also dealt with the questions of how much the case was costing taxpayers, and why Santa Cruz City Council member Katherine Beiers was not charged for her involvement in the occupation. In sworn testimony earlier this year, SCPD Detective David Gunter indicated that the department recommended that Beiers be charged as well for entering the empty building.

Lee's response to Norse's questions about that fact, and the general concept that the Santa Cruz Eleven were selectively prosecuted, was, "She [Beiers] was trying to get you out."

Attorney and homelessness activist Ed Frey responded, "Not me, I was in there," indicating that he had seen the council member at the occupation and she had not tried to get him [and presumably others] to leave.

As quickly as he arrived, Lee left, but in response to the final comments the group attempted to communicate to him he emphasized how seriously he takes his job.

For more information about the charges against the Santa Cruz Eleven, and the ongoing court hearings that seven of the individuals are still facing, see:

Alex Darocy

I am also one of the "Santa Cruz Eleven", but the charges against me were dismissed in May. I have not received any money or donations in association with the Santa Cruz Eleven, and I have nothing to do with the organization of the support group for the Santa Cruz Eleven or the website.
§DA Bob Lee, Robert Norse (Kahn), Ed Frey, Becky Johnson
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 4:37 PM
§DA Bob Lee: "I like Robert Norse"
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 4:37 PM
When initially approached for a photo, Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee reacted and said, "What? I like Robert Norse," and then the two of them hugged briefly for a few more photos, and then they continued the conversation they had begun.
§Santa Cruz DA Bob Lee, Robert Norse
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 4:37 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Brent Adams
Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 5:41 PM
Impressive reportage! Mr. Darocy has used the DSLR to its fullest covert extent.
This won't be the case for long but for now.. these cameras are able to capture candid statements with much better resolution than
the covert iphone video can.

What a rare thing.. to have DA Bob Lee and Robert Norse hugging and mugging together.. while a hotly debated case is still to be tried.


Great work Alex!
by Are the words
Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 6:41 PM
Sorry, but the D.A. owned the defendants.

-He clearly stated that he holds them responsible.

-He chided them for their fantasy protestations of defense, and they had no comeback.

-He made it clear they can stomp feet, but the case will move forward.

...and I chuckle at your inevitable deletion of this post that refutes your fantasies...but you can't refute the videos or the upcoming court case. Ciao!
by Interesting.
Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 8:23 PM
The DA refutes your claims that its costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars to pursue the case. He says "it's not costing my office anything at all".

My take based solely on the statement he makes is that he's essentially saying "the staff is there being paid, and we aren't spending any extra money. We consider this their job and a priority". Please comment on this clear disagreement? What do you say his lie is? Or conversely, what is your evidence that it's costing money?
by A
Thursday Jul 19th, 2012 7:26 AM
If they used no overtime, no outside experts. Then beyond the cost of running the dept. In a sense he is right about spending no money.... But, 72 hours to go over tape regarding a "30,000" restitution case (his words) that involved no violence. It is SNAFU "Situation normal all fucked up." Don't they have more important things to do...?
by G
Thursday Jul 19th, 2012 9:02 AM
Norse and Lee making physical contact, in front of the latest signage (that can NOT be discussed in Gallagher's court!) and the universe didn't implod...
by Becky Johnson
Thursday Jul 19th, 2012 11:48 AM
Interesting that DA Bob Lee is STILL using the $30,000 in restitution damage when police have testified that they received information over the phone from a Wells Fargo rep. that all the work had been completed, 5 contractors were paid, and the total was around $21,000.

Does Lee expect to collect a spare $9,000 from defendants? And if this is what he is proposing, then WHO is committing a crime? The defendants who had nothing to do with any vandalism, graffiti, or damage? Or the DA who is trying to extort THOUSANDS of dollars from defendants and using taxpayer money to direct his staff to do so?

And WHY have the 5 billing sheets not yet been turned over? The work was completed in December 2011 , LONG before anyone was indicted or arrested.

(full disclosure: I am a defendant in this case)
by (posted by) Norse
Sunday Jul 22nd, 2012 6:35 AM
Thanks to Occupy Santa Cruz activists for posting a clearer version of the dialogue at .

Bob Lee was far less forthcoming at the Friday hearing for Cameron Laurendeau and Angel Alcantara, two members of the SC-11 whose Preliminary Hearings were moved to the date for the larger group on August 20th (Dept. 6). I attempted to befriend him int he hallway and was ignored. How fickle are the ways of the D.A. ! It could be that our favorite freedom fighter is simply bashful.

While some of us felt that prosecuting eleven people for two felonies and two misdemeanors each (already over a dozen hearings) might actually involve some additional time, effort, and expense for the courts, the D.A.'s office, and the defense, Baffling Bob assured us in this interview that it cost no more. Strangely enough he is seeking a massive rise in appropriations from the Board of Supervisors for prosecuting felonies in the coming year.

Bob's also reassured us that Councilmember Katherine Beiers was not being prosecuted, in spite of the explicit recommendations of the SCPD in police reports and court testimony by Detective Gunter. Though she as well as hundreds of others were in the building unmolested and unwarned by police and yet without the permission of Wells Fargo, the lease-holder, we can surely understand the wise overview of Bob.

"She was trying to get you out", Bob explained helpfully. This certainly clears up the mystery that some have foolishly called "selective prosecution". Prosecuting alternative media reporters covering the situation (but not the Sentinel) and those trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the situation who don't hide their faces and honestly express their intentions may seem a body blow to honest journalism and non-violent negotiation. But Bob, with his years of experience and jovial good humor knows better.

It will be educational to hear the perspicacious prosecutor personally outline these matters to Judge Burdick, who has already dismissed every case that's come before him (unappreciative of Bob's wisdom here and that of his cub D.A. "Rerun" Rebekah Young).

And remember: The hours of court & D.A. time in hearing after hearing in the upcoming months will not cost any of us a penny more--thanks to Bob's courtroom magic! The mysteries of Leeland are many and will, no doubt, be closely studied in the years ahead by those who follow, eager to learn Bob's secret recipe for cost-free court time!

by Robert Norse
Wednesday Aug 8th, 2012 6:58 PM

(pictured are, left to right, D.A. Bob Lee, Robert Norse, Gail Page, Ed Frey, and Becky Johnson). Most of the audible conversation was between Lee, Norse, and Page. Coral Brune, not in the picture usually, made a comment at the very end. G= Gail, R= Robert, L = Lee, E = Ed. C= Coral).

There are still some parts of the tape that need to be transcribed because they're very hard to hear or people were talking over each other. The video was made by Alex Darocy. Norse and Johnson are currently charged. Darocy was charged, but charges were dismissed after being refiled. Frey has admitted to being in the building and so may be charged, though we've heard nothing further about it.

For the video go to and click on the larger video photo link, which has the most audible version.

Lee: So, They still get payed no matter what kind of cases they get. They get appointed.

G. No only the three, only the and the two conflicts.

L: That's true. That's actually true. They get paid by the hour. They get appointed

G: Two conflicts, the rest are getting paid Get paid by the hour..

Yes, but not our side

Based on the pay, no matter what kind of cases, we get...they get appointed.

L: That's actually true. That part is actually true, but not , but not our side. You guys say that all the time that it's costing my office a lot of money. It's not costing my office any money at all.

G: No, I'm talking about the tgaxpayers

L: Right. It's not costing...actually cost the D.A.s office...

G: It's a very unpleasant unfair situation for all the people.

L: Again, that's where you're wrong too Because we actually went through that video tape for almost 73 hours trying to identify people. 73 hours of my office going through that video tape. 73 hours.

R: How come we only have less than ten hours of...?

L: Because no one can identify anybody. We actually took it to... Santa Cruz PD. We actually rejected it, took it back to Santa Cruz PD and said we...said “identify these people.”

R: right.

G: But the question is why are you doing this? You're charging...

L: Look, I got...

R: Well,what?'re charging more than any other D.A in the country.

L: $30,000 worth of damage. Come up with the money and we'll have a different

R: Now what about Katherine Beiers? You can identify her.

L: Again,

R: Why not Beiers?

L: It's actually twenty-six nine now.

G: That's what they're telling their insurance company.

L: Well, okay. You guys pay the restitution—we'll have a different ballgame.

R: Huh But we're not responsible for the restitution. The people who did the vandalism are resposible.

L: I'm not going to argue wioth you

R: But I just want to ask you...But what about Beiers …?

L: Again..

R: ...You could identify Beiers. You know who she is She's a council member?

B: You couldn't identify Beiers

L: I just want to tell you a story. When I was in high school one of my friends invited him into his neighbor's house. some of us were smart enough not to go.

R: I'm going to get this on tape. Go ahead, okay

L: no Tape.

R: What, no pictures No tape?

L: no.

L: Some of us were smart enough not to go Then she acted surprised when these high school kids damaged the house. She shoiuldn't be surprised.

B: What about Katherine Beiers? In other words yuo can identify her, but you're not charging her.


L: She was trying to get you out.

R: She was recommended for prosecution.

E: What about me, I was in there.

R: He's admitting to it.

E: Tell your deputy, I was in there.

L: Watch my car, okay?

E: Tell your deputy, I was in there

(hard to hear)

R: Are you offering something to us as a group now, perhaps?

L: Go through the process.

R: It's been a long tedious process


G: It's a game for you, but it's the lives of the people that are being ruined.

L: It's not a game at all. You wouldn't know me very well to say that., I've been doing this for 30 years, you would notknow me at all, so....

G: It's not fair to the people who are being prosecuted.

E: Yeah.

R: We'll talk again perhaps.

F: There wa sa little opportunity, a little window., huh?

C: That was worth the whole price of the ticket.

R: The new information was...that...