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Fascist trends in Santa Cruz Government
by Elise Casby
Thursday May 16th, 2019 6:40 PM
Activists and myself using the derogatory gesture of the nazi salutes were focused on and reported in the conservative and reactionary paper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel by writer, Jessica York on May 15, 2019. As usual the focus was on the graphic gesture and not the fact that public comment and other forms of democratic participation are dwindling over the years as each mayor, now Martine Watkins takes up the mantle of repression.
My name is Elise Casby. I use symbolic gestures somewhat thoughtfully and pointedly. I have witnessed and followed our government here in the United States at all levels, Federal, State, County and Local city councils becoming more and more repressive of our democratic freedoms and venues for participation in government. We need our voices and our votes to count! In today's printed version of the Santa Cruz Sentinel and in the online version from yesterday, May 15, 2019, I am personally listed, that is my name is used by Jessica York to show that I used the Nazi salute outside of the Santa Cruz city council chambers to show my disapproval and passionate concern over the refusal of our current mayor and council to allow the public with reasonable tolerance and a political will that shows respect and support for public participation in the public comment section of our meetings. Yes, I did this. However, Jessica's willingness to use my name within the context of an article that focuses on the activist's responses and not the loss of our public commons of free speech is telling and for me erodes my trust further in her reporting and the Sentinel as a trust worthy source of news.

She goes on to focus on Robert Norse's history and use of the gesture as well as other facts pertaining to his fight for his right to use the gesture. What Jessica misses is the details that more pointedly show the bad faith of our council. For example, the 15 minutes that Council Member Glover requested in a motion to allow the remaining public who showed up to speak during the public comment section, was not a lot of time. In fact my friend pointed out to me that it took about a half an hour to clear the council chambers and for the recesses that Mayor Watkins ordered. However, my gestures were at the end of the demonstrations, I was outside the chambers and in all other respects, I was composed and waited for my turn to speak. I was in fact, the last person to "achieve" my slot for public comment at about 7:34 pm.

The wider community I believe, needs to be informed of the ever more widening sphere and depth of fascism that is present in our country. If people do not know about this trend and presence of the extreme authoritarians in our midst, governing our institutions all around us, and even here, in Santa Cruz, perhaps the people are not able to inform themselves because our "papers", our "media" which used to be considered, "the fourth estate" because of the need for information, which used to be called, "news" in our society has become extremely unfair and unbalanced. My critiques of city council members and city staff have become very pointed and are based in investigations and first hand sources that I have mostly collected by myself, and also through other sources that I believe are credible and which I cross check.

Ms. York's article is biased and slanted. It reminds me of more of a New York Times type of slant rather than a Fox News complete right wing political propaganda all the time. The sad thing about Jessica's reporting in this particular article that is entitled, "Disruptive Audience ordered to Leave Santa Cruz City Council Meeting" is that her slant, or what is called, her "context" in this article is really an attack on me personally and on Robert Norse as well. The reason for this her attack is surely my vocal and demonstrative "activism" to call attention to the fascistic trend in our local government. Her primary focus on what she calls, "the disruptive audience" instead of a focus on the politicians and representatives that are disrupting our lives by gentrifying our city to the extreme, cancelling our public speaking venues, and in more and more authoritarian ways, everyday, using other methods such as racist slurs, surveillance and the war of perception instead of allowing truth-based information- that these far right politicians and authoritarian leaders and people using to repress us citizens and residents, such as shutting down and severely limiting our public comment periods at our own government meetings, all of which aids and promotes further repressive and authoritarian governance and social norms.

In some ways, Ms. York reported facts. But what is totally missing here in her article is a morality and a conscience to report on "the truth" in some truly democratic manner that allows the public to know what actually happened. The repressive and dictatorial manner that Mayor Watkins has controlled this council, the coercive and strong-arming methods that the city manager and staff have often been using to deprive the newly elected progressive members on the council to get issues on the agenda combined with the unfounded slurs deployed against Council Member Glover are just some of the latest tactics and strategy the far right elite in Santa Cruz are using to take over our city completely. I do not have time to write more at this moment. I would like to but I must choose where to put my time and efforts carefully.

I sincerely wish that Ms. Jessica York had represented my actions more fully that I used and deployed this past Tuesday night at the council meeting- both inside and out. I think the citizens and residents of Santa Cruz could have gotten a much better idea of what is actually happening to our government here. I was respectful as well as opportunistic inside the chambers, and used my speech to tell the public about the lack of protest when the council decided to limit public comment to a mere half an hour maximum several months ago. Now we are living with that meager amount of time and it allowed Ms. Watkins to limit our public speech to our government when we need it sorely. Free speech has been and is under severe attack and is terribly repressed already here in Santa Cruz and in the United States. Using the nazis gesture outside of council chambers as I did when we have a collected group of citizens who showed up to address the council, who easily could have been accommodated by the Mayor, if she cared about democracy and the public's need to speak to council, which she does not really seem to support strongly- it was an adequate and appropriate time to attempt to warn our fellow citizens and residents about our present situation and what we are fast losing. It would have been so much more beneficial if Jessica York and the Santa Cruz Sentinel had also cared more about our eroding opportunities to stem the tide of fascism. But they just don't. Instead they are using this erosion of our rights and freedoms to attack and mark activists as "disruptive" and worse adjectives and labels to describe people like myself and Abbi Samuels who risk self preservation and decorum at times to make "statements" and gestures to alert the wider community of the repression we are enduring and which is likely to get far worse if we don't act, and have a sea change in our government and media. We need a sea change that is not brought on by climate change, but is brought on by our friends, our fellow citizens, our community leaders, everyone to wake up to the ever more pervasive trend in our society toward fascism and authoritarian rulership.
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
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Mayor Watkins shuts down truth about City eco-crimesDr. John Cohen-ColbyFriday May 17th, 2019 11:48 AM
Hypocritical double standardsPat ColbyThursday May 16th, 2019 10:36 PM
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