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Local Activists Continue to Press the Issue on the BearCat and Militarization
by Steve Pleich for SCRAM (spleich [at] gmail.com)
Thursday Feb 12th, 2015 3:14 PM
Community Concern Over BearCat Purchase Continues to Grow
Hundreds of community members jammed the Auditorium at Louden Nelson Center on Wednesday night to hear presentations about the BearCat purchase and the militarization of local law enforcement and to take part in the ongoing public debate about these issues. The forum, which was co-sponsored by more that twenty local peace and political acion groups including ACLU Santa Cruz County Chapter and Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, was organized by the grassroots activist group SCRAM! Santa Cruz Resistance Against Militarization.

A forum panel consisting of local award winning journalist John Malkin, co-founder of the first Copwatch group Andrea Prichett, San Leandro activist Mike Katz-Lacabe and SCRAM founding member and Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs activist Abbi Samuels provided informative and often inspiring presentations on a number of different aspects of the growing militarization of law enforcement.

John Malkin opened the discussion with a history of the BearCat in Santa Cruz and added his observations about the progressive militarization of police forces both locally and on a national level. Andrea Prichett talked about the political fight in Berkeley that successfully pushed back a BearCat purchase. Andrea, who has been working to hold police accountable for over 25 years, has also developed educational materials including "The Copwatch Handbook", "The People's Investigation Guide" and numerous other "Know Your Rights". She spoke extensively about the developing “police culture” and issued a strong challenge to Santa Cruz to resist progressive militarization.

Mike Katz-LaCabe, who has been an activist for almost 30 years on issues ranging from the anti-apartheid movement to Amnesty International, is the co-founder of San Leandro Community Action Network. He spoke about taking on police surveillance and militarization in the form of license plate readers, cellular monitoring and interception equipment and described San Leandro’s unsuccessful effort to rescind the BearCat purchase.

SCRAM founding member Abbi Samuels brought the crowd up to speed on the continuing SCRAM effort to convince the Santa Cruz City Council that the proposed BearCat purchase is both bad public policy and reflects a dangerous trend toward militarizing our local police department. Her presentation included dramatic and often graphic evidence about the potential for abuse of police power that the BearCat poses and urged the community to take action in support of SCRAM’s mission to rescind the BearCat purchase. A full hour of public discussion, testimony and spirited exchange between the panelists and attendees followed the presentations.

SCRAM will be continuing its effort to “Give Back the BearCat” and expects the public discussion about the vehicle and militarization to expand exponentially in the coming weeks. Updates about the SCRAM effort and how community members can support this work can be found on Santa Cruz Resistance Against Militarization Facebook page.
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Thanks for this update!Bradley AllenThursday Feb 12th, 2015 3:52 PM