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Indybay Feature
Thu Nov 3 2016 (Updated 11/10/16)
Community Responds to SCPD Killing of Sean Smith-Arlt
Santa Cruz Residents Express Sadness, Anger, Fear of Calling 911, Following Police Killing
Following the killing of Sean Smith-Arlt by officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department on October 16, residents are organizing in the community with the intention of preventing another killing like his. On October 22, a candle light vigil for Sean was organized at the Town Clock, which coincided with the 21st annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. On October 25 a large group of community members attended the Santa Cruz City Council meeting to voice their concerns during oral communications, and on November 1 a community forum hosted by the newly formed Social Justice Alliance was held at Peace United Church.

Sean was suffering from mental health issues at the time he was shot and killed by Santa Cruz police, who say they deemed him a threat when he advanced towards them with a garden rake in his hands outside of a home on the west side. Four officers were involved in the incident, which occurred over the course of a 20 second time-span and ended with one of the officers shooting two shots at Sean. Police have not released the names of the officers involved, nor have they released the audio or video evidence they have.

At the events organized for Sean, individuals have been displaying protest signs with pre-printed messages such as "Release The Videotape Now," "Release the Names," and "We Will Remember Sean!" Several different figures in the mental health community have spoken out about Sean's killing, including Carol Williamson of the Santa Cruz affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Sarah Leonard, Executive Director of the Mental Health Client Action Network of Santa Cruz County (MHCAN).

"We rely on the police. Calling 911 is the most difficult decision for a family to make, and now trust is deeply shaken," Williamson told the city council on October 25. "The death of Sean calls for full consideration of several questions," she said. "Is our law enforcement response to psychiatric crisis working? Is our mental health care system working? How should our family, our county investigate incidents about use of force?"

Read More: imc_photo.gif Family of Sean Smith-Arlt Interrogated for Hours after his Death, According to Family Friend | imc_photo.gif Community forum regarding killing of Sean Arlt 11-1-2016 | imc_photo.gif Community Responds to SCPD Killing of Sean Smith-Arlt with Sadness, Anger, Fear of Calling 911 | video Residents Speak About the Police Killing of Sean Smith-Arlt at Santa Cruz City Council Meeting | imc_photo.gif Vigil for Sean Smith-Arlt Organized on No Police Brutality Day | imc_photo.gif Candle light vigil held in remembrance of Sean Smith Arlt October 22, 2016 | imc_photo.gif SCPD must release name of officer who killed man suffering from mental illness | ACLU of Northern California Statement on Killing of Sean Arlt | NAMI Santa Cruz Expresses Deep Sadness at Horrible Death of Sean Arlt

Related Feature: SCPD Shoots and Kills Sean Smith-Arlt on West Side
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