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Indybay Feature

Confront Local Bigotry in Santa Cruz With Names, Dates, and Actions

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
I'll be distributing the following flyer today and in the days ahead at the Stand Up/Speak Out Rally demanding Justice in Ferguson (and Santa Cruz). See
No Ferguson in Santa Cruz!

+++ Police abuse against poor and homeless persons is a widespread reality, empowered by laws that criminalize basic human needs and rights—like sleeping at night & public assembly.
+++ New laws coming to City Council will criminalize homeless with cop-initiated Stay-Away orders & ban RV parking city-wide.
+++ Recycling centers and needle exchange have already been removed from Santa Cruz City Limits as the new “brand the homeless as criminals” campaign has taken hold.
+++ Nearly three of every four of Officer Bradly Barnett's citations made downtown were issued to homeless people for essentially victimless crimes, such as sitting, smoking, and skateboarding.
+++ Officer Bill Azua confronted Jasmine Byron & her mother at last year's Thanksgiving Salvation Army meal with a drawn gun for “taking a plate of food outside”. No response from Chief Kevin Vogel of the SCPD.
+++ Officer Arnold Vasquez dropped a handcuffed Richard Hardy to the sidewalk face-first on Pacific Avenue in a video picked up by the Sentinel ( )

+++ Additionally, nearly 10% of the citations Barnett issued were to African-Americans, in a county where 1.4% of the population is black according to a recent census.
+++ Yannidies Brown reports her brother and cousin were brutalized and jailed in another “no smoking or else” Barnett incident.
+++ Officer Azua has been videoed harassing blacks for “smoking on Pacific” while ignoring whites doing the same thing.

+++ The local ACLU, NAACP, and SCCCCR have named no names, nor acted on any specific complaints in the last decade in spite of the widespread awareness among the black community that racial profiling is a humiliating reality here.
+++ Police-partial “review” boards, co-opted city council committees, & “law and order” neighborhood organizations will do nothing but support more “tools” for cops.
+++ Frequent Street Protest, Sit-in's, & Occupations may help deter police violence-as-usual.

Real tools are the camera, the internet, the press, and our own voices !
Video, audio, and post incidents on line when you see them!
Stop and make time to hold police accountable. No one else will.

Flier by Norse, HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 309 Cedar St. #14B 11-25-14
HUFF meet Wednesdays 11 AM-1 PM at Sub Rosa 703 Pacific. Contact Norse at HUFF or on the air at Free Radio Santa Cruz [FRSC]
FRSC: 101.1 FM & Sundays 9:30 AM – 1 PM, Thursdays 6 PM-8 PM 831-427-3772. Archives:
Contact HUFF to fight back in Small Claims Court; Write for the Street Shit Sheet. Back issues:
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by Northbay Movement for a Democratic Society
Robert Norse and his friends at HUFF are keeping up the good work, with useful fliers, and good links to further info! As usual, the campaign materials online and offline are well done, and alongside the emails, and the Indybay postings, help connect those of us who otherwise may not know of what is happening in Santa Cruz, and how much it resembles community fascism in cities across the USA!
by Robert Norse
Realizing now--though I didn't Tuesday night (and should have)--that the real value of the coming together of people angry and concerned and determined to make change--is to plot the future. Not simply to make a cry of pain or anger in the night. I'm afraid I let myself be led off into abstract discussions over at the RCNV.

There is continual "leadership" pressure to "tone down" the protest, divert it into "peaceful" channels (where peaceful doesn't even mean non-violent, but less angry, less confrontational, less "illegal" (in a town where the "legal" is frequently illegitimate, and the legitimate is often illegal). I noticed those carrying signs have internalized some of the unconstitutional "legal" requirements by, for instance, not holding signs and standing on the median next to the Town Clock (perhaps there were some when I wasn't looking?).

The danger of being co-opted here is real and persistent. A broad coalition is important, vital even, but only if it's leading in direction other than what have generally proved to be futile "discussions" with police and City Council, studying the law for loopholes and "protection", or "trainings" so we can be "more non-violent". I heard initial instructions to protesters marching in the street was to "stay on the sidewalks" and head for the RCNV rather than the police station. (When the protest reached the RCNV, ultimately, it split and dispersed--though admittedly things were pretty much over by that point anyway)

There are groups we could have marched to (the Occupation group on campus, for example). Ferguson folks are nightly risking their asses on the streets in a broader struggle to address the rip-off regime there--which impacts not only black folks but all poor and oppressed groups there, who are regularly shaken down in courts for their cash as part of an abusive police state system. See "As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying The Price" at

There is an economic power structure in Santa Cruz that supports low wages, escalating rents, anti-homeless laws, police empowerment, & UC collusion. It has to be exposed, attacked, and overturned. There's also a supportive political power system and institutionalized government staff that maintains this status quo. Regular and escalating public protests to mobilize and empower "the 99%" who feel isolated and alone seem to me to be a big part of the answer. Active visible demonstrations may be the way to educate all. Together we can be empowered. Separately we're just wailing in the wind.

Or, as old Tom Paine put it as moved to rouse the colonists against the British authorities, "If we do not hang together we shall surely hang separately."

To mount a Poor People's Campaign such as King and his colleagues envisioned locally requires separating ourselves from illusions that terminally toxic institutional structures will respond to reason without power.

Is anyone planning follow-up protests at specific places with specific demands?
by G
Under tyranny, the law does not offer protection. Duh. It offers an avenue to exhaust redress. It offers an avenue to reveal hypocrisy.

Why that is so often missed by 'bad boys' remains unknown to me.

Perhaps it's the same reason why they denounce non-violence while completely ignoring non-cooperation? Non-violence encourages support from bystanders near and far, it encourages ostracizing and isolating oppressors, it erodes false 'moral high grounds'. Non-cooperation removes the supports oppression feeds upon, it is the active ingredient in effective resistance, and it requires self discipline and self sacrifice. Perhaps that is why it is so often ignored.
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