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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Anti-War | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Dear City Council, Santa Cruz Does NOT Want a BEARCAT
Sin Barras, Without (Prison) Bars, wants the Santa Cruz Police Department to rescind its agreement to purchase a Bearcat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck).
City of Santa Cruz Council Members:
Sin Barras, Without (Prison) Bars, wants the Santa Cruz Police Department to rescind its agreement to purchase a Bearcat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck). The City of Berkeley returned its BEARCAT after much community pressure. Santa Cruz must do the same. The City Council should pass regulations to ban the purchase or acquisition of military vehicles, weapons, surveillance equipment, gear, tools, ammunition, and other military supplies.
We demand that all decision making about community safety be transparent and accessible in order to prevent further militarization as well as halt any further development of police power that is not as visually striking, like the recently passed stay-away ordinance that will effectively give police officers the de facto ability to indiscriminately move and keep people away from public property to which they should be entitled, particularly unhoused people.
Military equipment and supplies have the potential to be used against the most vulnerable sectors of Santa Cruz society, including people of color (racist policing and justice operations already result in Blacks being 9% of the jail population when they are only 1.8% of the SC community population, youth, the poor, the houseless, people with mental health challenges, disabled people, and people in need of substance abuse treatment and prevention. At times Santa Cruz police have denied protestors First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression. Now they have refused to state in their BEARCAT policy that they will ban the use of military equipment and supplies against demonstrators. This is an outrage.
One of our members, Frank Alvarado Jr., was the 4th of five unarmed Latino men killed by white Salinas police officers since May 2014. It disturbs us that the SCPD has such close relations with a department that protects officers who should be fired and prosecuted. Police brutality and killings with guns and tasers are a huge problem in Salinas and across the nation. This is not new; it has been going on ever since chattel slavery and will not change until we overturn the white supremacy and institutionalized racism upon which this country was founded and developed its wealth and power. This problem can only get worse when police have armored vehicles and military equipment and supplies.
We do not want Santa Cruz to be a war zone. We demand outside oversight of the police by people not involved in law enforcement. We need to hold police accountable to constitutional rights and to international human rights laws. We need to spend SC money on community resources and services, permanent affordable housing, healthcare, mental health services, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment, education, afterschool programs, vocational training, and jobs. We need to invest in people and the planet, not in equipment and supplies for killing.
Santa Cruz City Council, invest in caring, not in killing and caging.
Members of Sin Barras