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Anthony Messer 1985-2013
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
Friends and family from coast to coast are mourning the loss of 28-year-old Anthony Messer, who died in Santa Cruz on the evening of December 2. Funeral services were held for him on Monday in Chipley, Florida. Anthony was well known in Santa Cruz as a veteran of the U.S. military, a political activist, a traveler, and a generally friendly person who exuded positivity. Anthony made a big splash in the Occupy movement after having first participated in Occupy Sacramento. After leaving Sacramento, he traveled to Santa Cruz in February of 2012 with a strong desire to revive the Occupy Santa Cruz occupation of the court house steps. Much to the chagrin of many involved with OSC at that time, who had become acutely image-conscious and occupation-weary, Messer embarked on a one person demonstration at the court house steps dubbed "Re-Occupy," where he held teach-ins and attempted to maintain a 24/7 presence. [Top photo: Anthony (on the right) during "Re-Occupy"]
Anthony actively organized events with Occupy Santa Cruz, and he contributed several articles to the OSC website. In March of 2012, he participated in Tent University at UC Santa Cruz, as well as the associated campus shut down. He also participated in many of the larger Bay Area and Northern California events that occurred during the Occupy movement, which included marching with supporters of the S.F. Commune during the occupation of 888 Turk Street in San Francisco.

He produced a number of video blogs about his activism, and he developed websites that culled together his political experiences, along with many of his thoughts and ideas, and photos of demonstrations in which he participated.

In the section of his website titled "Setting the Bar," Anthony outlined his four "growth" goals:

1. Perform effective actions.
2. Educate the public to government and corporate injustices.
3. Homeless and houseless community out-reach.
4. Act, operate, and support the Occupy movement.

Anthony left Santa Cruz for a short period of time, as he was apt to do as someone who loved to travel, and when he returned he participated in the vigil for Ed Frey in August of 2012. The event took place as Frey was to turn himself in to the county jail after being sentenced to serve time for sleeping at the court house during the PeaceCamp 2010 protests against the sleeping ban in Santa Cruz. Anthony was one of several people who occupied the court house steps overnight during that vigil, after sheriffs had tried unsuccessfully to chase the group out earlier in the evening.

He described himself as being in the military for seven years, and when asked about the difficulty of sleeping in public, enduring the cold and the police, and occupying space as an activist, he would often comment that his experiences as an occupier were easy compared to what he went through in the service.

Anthony had his demons. He would proudly claim they were not a result of his seven years of service in the military, but he struggled to maintain sobriety from drugs and alcohol. Anthony wanted to live a sober life, but he never achieved that goal for long.

He was often without a roof to sleep under when he stayed in Santa Cruz, and according to a report on his death in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, his body was found on the beach near San Lorenzo Point. Higher up on that cliffy point was a campsite where possessions of his were found. The county coroner stated he appeared to have died due to complications from a fall. The authorities say empty liquor bottles were also found near the campsite.

Located where the San Lorenzo River meets Monterey Bay, San Lorenzo point is about a mile and a half away from the Santa Cruz court house. Like most of the cliffs along the coastline, the side of the cliff on the point is not ideally suited for camping, compared to the more level locations closer to the court house. The high, slippery rock faces can be splashed out of the blue by "sneaker waves."

During February 2012's "Re-Occupy" at the Santa Cruz court house, Anthony created several political signs, and one read: "Cruel Broad Laws Are Not A Good Answer. Better Lighting, More Patrols, Real Shelter Solutions, Public Education + Real Deliberation." One of the teach-ins he planned was a discussion based on the book "Corporations: Examples & Explanations" by Alan R. Palmiter.

On one evening of that occupation, officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department spotted Anthony at the court house steps lying on his sleeping bag on the sidewalk. They aggressively talked him out of staying there. Anthony was very polite to the officers, but he firmly insisted on knowing what the legal grounds were that prevented him from lying on the sidewalk.

One officer then suggested that because Anthony was an occupier, he must not have a job. Anthony remained silent and did not mention his seven years of service in the military. When another individual present asked the officers if it made any difference that Anthony was a veteran, the officer who accused him of being jobless profusely apologized.

Anthony was a person who loved traveling, and he was also a person with strong personal ties to the Santa Cruz community. Following his arrival in 2012, much of the local political rhetoric has focused on issues surrounding homelessness.

In the summer of 2012, the Santa Cruz department of parks and recreation, along with public works and the SCPD, conducted a series of raids on San Lorenzo Park and areas near the court house that made life even more difficult for people looking for a place to sleep. Patrols were dramatically stepped up in the former location of the Occupy Santa Cruz camp, and homeless people who had previously slept in the park were either forced to endure more frequent interactions with the authorities or find other places to sleep.

At that time the Santa Cruz city council also enacted new legislation where individuals accumulating multiple infractions for minor offenses, such as sleeping in public, could be prosecuted criminally and sentenced to jail.

Increased patrols aimed at eliminating sleep related activity near the San Lorenzo River have continued into 2013. More security was hired for the park, the court house, and the county government center, which all border the river.

The sweeps led to reports of increases in homeless people looking for places to sleep in areas closer to the beach, which in part fueled the first ever long-term curfew and night closure of a beach in Santa Cruz, Cowell's Beach, which is close to where Anthony was found.

Much of the recent rhetoric surrounding the discourse on public safety has to do with limiting the access homeless "travelers" have to local services. One member of the city's public safety task force, which was formed in 2013 and has largely focused on issues of homelessness and drug addiction, rashly echoed that sentiment when he said he would be "fine with junkies dying," as long as it was outside of the Santa Cruz area.

On the minds of some of those who knew Anthony is how this could be allowed to happen to a homeless veteran.

Was Anthony forced to find a more remote location to sleep, that was far more dangerous than those he slept at during his initial arrival in Santa Cruz, because of the recent political crackdown on homelessness?

Did Anthony die from what he so passionately fought against, the injustice of the criminalization of sleep and homelessness in Santa Cruz?

Video blogs featuring Anthony Messer can be found by searching for "Occupy Chop" on YouTube, and one of Anthony's websites can still be seen at:

Anthony Messer's obituary:

Alex Darocy
§Re-Occupy at the Santa Cruz Court House, February 2012
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
"Occupy Hard!!!"
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
"Occupy Your Mind!!!"

"Cruel Broad Laws Are Not A Good Answer. Better Lighting, More Patrols, Real Shelter Solutions, Public Education + Real Deliberation"
§SCPD at Re-Occupy
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Occupy Foreclosures March, March 2012
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Repression of the Occupy Movement March, February 2012
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Anthony and Ed Frey at Ed Frey Vigil, August 2012
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Ed Frey Vigil
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Santa Cruz County Jail, Ed Frey Vigil
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§Occupy Art Show, April 2012
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§"Anthony is Hot," Ed Frey Vigil
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:02 PM
§"Anthony is Hot," Ed Frey Vigil
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Dec 11th, 2013 11:04 PM
"Anthony is Hot," Ed Frey Vigil

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by how many more?
Thursday Dec 12th, 2013 3:24 AM
like sleeping in dumpsters, "hide from the pigs sleeping" can be fatal. anthony was one of us, what happened to him could happen to any of us from our fascist economy.

the government and TBSC are the villains who's heartless policies pushed anthony to his death.

as an activist i also feel a bit of personal guilt, if we still had the courage to occupy or if sanctuary camp had permission for a small test camp, this would not have happened, anthony would be there, at the center of the action, instead of alone at a dangerous cliff face camp.

by Denica
Thursday Dec 12th, 2013 12:05 PM
Anthony was a wonderful man and a great activist. He fought injustice wherever he felt he could, as he saw it. He would do things like just a few weeks ago he walked me almost 4 miles back to my sister's apartment so that I would be safe. I've known him for a few years now and I feel like I am a better soul now having done so. Anthony told me he had poor eyesight due to an IED exploding near him in Iraq years ago, which could be a small part of what happened. In any case I was shocked and devastated when I saw what happened - Anthony didn't text me so I looked on Facebook and saw that he had fallen near his campsite. He had told me he was staying in a motel. I wish I had more time with this amazing person. TY Alex for these photos. <3 RIP Anthony T. Messer <3
by AcidPanCake
(acidpancake [at] Thursday Dec 12th, 2013 3:23 PM
We had all lived together in an occu-house Fall 2011, during Occupy Sacramento. Trish, Chops, Sean, Laura, Brittany and I. Things disheveled there, and I had been toying with the idea of going back to Santa Cruz again. (I had been living there on and off for 3 years)
We were pretty close then. Since we had both been dating other people in the occu-house, we were quite accustomed to our friendship, and he was an awesome big brother/best friend. I could be totally honest/candid with him. He gave me the verbal space to come up with funny stuff. He appreciated that I showed no concern for his past or what he mentioned or didn't mention. He was a dear friend and I told him he was a dear friend regardless of that. Here and now brother. Live in the present. We had many existential and spiritual conversations, both being at a crossroads of etheric development, it was nice to have someone to share it with, Thank you Anthony.

He was the one who encouraged me to go in the van. He LOVED that van. I brought Anthony to Santa Cruz in Feb of 2012. In a 1971 VW bus, put in a new battery, he did some magic trick with gas in the carburetor, and we piled in. Like magic, it got us ALL THE WAY THERE from Sacramento. Quite a familiar situation to VW soon as we got there and I parked it on the east side, it promptly broke down. The van needed to come back to Santa Cruz though, it belonged there. Everyday on my way back up to the east side, I would stop by and visit Anthony at the re-occupation, and steal him away to pow wow a couple of times during the day. I remember the day he met you, Denica. He was stoked.

At first discovery of his passing, I was tragically guilty that I brought him to Santa Cruz. Though, If we hadn't come, I wouldn't have met my daughters father. If I hadn't had my daughter, I wouldn't be the foodie nutrition guru, making people well and happy through food. I wouldn't have this joyful sea creature, whos spirit, I am convinced came to us from the deepest depths of the Monterey Canyons. She brings us such peace everyday. That thought made me grateful. Then the inpouring of connections he made in Santa Cruz popped onto his page...and now I know, he changed my destiny as much as I changed his. I still feel sadness that I introduced him to a place that absorbed him, but I warned him Santa Cruz was a vortex of etheric energy when we arrived. ;) One of our last conversations was last October, and we talked about just that.

At least he left in a place of powerful beauty and glistening purity. I have been sad a lot this week, but I have also felt overflowing joy for you Anthony. Thanks for making your time here worth it.
~Your friend always, AcidPanCake

Who's streets?!
by Todd
Saturday Dec 14th, 2013 2:36 AM
It doesn't appear Anthony never made it to the occupations in the southern part of the state and though I did have plans for visiting Occupy San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and SF the financing for that trip fell through so I never met Anthony. Thanks to your piece, I feel I kind of know him.

Thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and fellow Occupiers.

An occupier in Los Angeles
by Close Reader
Sunday Dec 15th, 2013 6:58 PM
Anthony wanted "Real Shelter Solutions". It says so on his sign.

Also, he stayed at the "Occu-house" on Mission Street for a period of time. He wasn't necessarily destined to be a lifelong guerrilla camper.

We don't know if Anthony would have lived a longer life if society was more just, and it isn't wrong to think of what Anthony's political views concerning his own death would be as we grieve.

RIP Anthony.

Rest in peace AND politics.
by OSC Media Group
Thursday Dec 19th, 2013 2:09 PM
On Thursday 19Dec2013, the Santa Cruz Homeless Service Center had a Memorial Service for the 48 homeless people who died this year. The HSC memorial featured a banner of flags, one flag for each person. Anthony's flag was there.

by Dawn Roquel
Tuesday Dec 24th, 2013 1:27 AM
Video of Anthony "Occupy Chop" Messer setting up a tent at the County Courthouse steps in February 2012.