Police State & Prisons News

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Officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department shot and killed 32-year-old Sean Smith-Arlt outside of a home on the corner of Chace and Getchell Streets on the west side of Santa Cruz. Police have stated that Smith-Arlt, who was experiencing mental health issues, was advancing towards officers with a gardening rake when officers deemed him a threat and shot and killed him at about 3:30 am on October 16. In response, residents have organized a candle light vigil at the Town Clock in Santa Cruz for No Police Brutality Day on October 22.
Since August 26, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to sit and then kneel during the playing of the national anthem to protest racist police violence, at least dozens of more Black people have been murdered by the police. What is also intensifying is that more and more athletes are taking a visible stand against police brutality. Students at the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) have been particularly vocal about their opposition to a lack of police accountability and the unfair treatment of Black and Brown people at the hands of law enforcement.
Daniel Borgström writes: It was Saturday, September 24th.... The solidarity rally was to be held in downtown Oakland, at the triangular-shaped plaza where Telegraph Avenue splits off from Broadway. It was 7:30 p.m. when I arrived; Gerald Sanders was speaking to a gathering of a couple hundred people. Almost everybody there was quite young. A banner read: "Revolt with Charlotte." Several dozen police were taking up strategic positions along Broadway and Telegraph.
Mon Oct 10 2016 (Updated 10/21/16)
Families Demand San Francisco DA Charge Killer Cops
Mothers and fathers whose children have been killed by police spoke out at the San Francisco Hall of Justice and District Attorney's office on October 7 to demand an end to the murders and executions of Blacks and Latinos in Northern California. They demanded that DA George Gascon file murder charges against the police officers that have killed young people with impunity. Some of those who spoke were Gwen Woods, mother of Oscar Woods; Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; Elivra and Refugio Nieto, parents of Alex Nieto; Cristina Gutierrez, mother of Equipto Gutierrez; and Denika Chatman, the mother of Kenneth Harding Jr.
On October 10, 2005, Diallo Neal was murdered when a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer struck the rear end of his motorcycle, launching Diallo into a bus stop, pole, and concrete bench. The CHP officer fled the scene. Oakland police began an investigation, but CHP took it over and closed it. Work is underway to revive the truth of this tragedy, regardless of legal statutes of limitations. A press conference and rally to support Diallo's mother, Gilda Baker, will be held at the California Highway Patrol headquarters in Oakland on October 11.
The Take Back Oakland Coalition is now gathering signatures to recall Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. On September 18, recall organizers handed out the first recall petitions all afternoon in front of Oakland City Hall. Primary among the objections to Schaaf are her inaction in the face of massive displacement of long-time residents, the deference she continues to show to the corrupt and murderous Oakland police department, and her failure to support local youth and job centers.
While previous attempts to reign in police seizures have failed in the California legislature, state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 443 in August with bipartisan support. On September 29, the bill limiting civil asset forfeiture abuse in California was signed into law, marking a victory for the larger asset forfeiture reform movement underway throughout the country. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2017, requiring a conviction in most cases before state and local law enforcement agencies may permanently keep people’s property.
Sat Oct 1 2016 (Updated 10/04/16)
Tracking Police Murders in Two Bay Area Cities
The Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy has thus far created two timelines mapping state violence in the Bay Area, one for Hayward and one for San Francisco. The timelines were generated as part of a larger ongoing convivial research effort to expose low intensity war across the Bay Area and state. The CCRA writes: The timeline is a tool that remembers, counts, mourns and honors our dead. It is a collaborative effort of documentation over time that makes visible the many resistances that have refused erasure. This refusal itself is a confrontation against state violence.
Thu Sep 22 2016 (Updated 09/24/16)
Getting a Good Night's Sleep at Santa Cruz City Hall
Presently the only location in downtown Santa Cruz where people on the street are able to sleep regularly as a group is at the weekly community sleepouts organized by the Freedom Sleepers. Homeless sweeps conducted by the Santa Cruz Police Department beginning in January of this year have for the most part cleared the downtown area of groups of people sleeping together in other locations, such as at the post office. Since July of 2015, the Freedom Sleepers have gathered to sleep at city hall one night a week to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness. September 20 marked the group's 63rd sleepout.
Wed Sep 21 2016 (Updated 09/25/16)
East Bay Cops Charged with Sex Crimes and Corruption
Recent reporting exposed widespread crimes, corruption, and coverups in the Oakland police department. As more and more came to light about Oakland police sexually abusing and trafficking a teenage girl since she was a minor, community activists issued demands, protests turned up on OPD's doorstep, and calls for accountability came from all quarters. In this environment, it became untenable for Alameda County District Attorney O'Malley to do nothing. O'Malley has now charged five cops for the sexual exploitation of a teenager and related corruption. Two more are yet to be charged.
On September 10, over 300 people took part in a march, rally, and demonstration in solidarity with the ongoing Prison Strike happening across US prisons, jails, and detention facilities. People gathered at Latham Square in downtown Oakland where several speakers addressed the crowd. Grabbing banners, flags, and signs, people then took to the streets and marched to several corporations that profit from prison labor. AT&T, UPS, and Bank of America were called out for their use of prison labor.
On September 9, activists chained themselves to the entrances of the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton to protest Urban Shield, the SWAT training and weapons expo hosted annually by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. Hundreds of community members from cities across California, including Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, marched and rallied. Twenty-three activists were arrested, cited, and released.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an emergency motion on September 4 for a temporary restraining order to prevent further destruction of the Tribe’s sacred sites by the Dakota Access Pipeline. On the previous day, Water protectors clashed with security to successfully stop pipeline construction and some were viciously attacked by guard dogs. Protest camps have issued a global call for solidarity actions to be held September 3-17. In the Bay Area, solidarity actions will take place in Sacramento on September 7 and San Francisco on September 8.
On August 28, a number of organizations in Santa Cruz partnered to throw a party with the goal of bringing together the police with the social justice community. The party was called the "NAACP Peace Party" and among the officers that showed up was Santa Cruz Police Lieutenant Christian LeMoss, who broke the arm of a 60-year-old disabled woman when he arrested her on May 9, 2008.
On August 22, Maria Magdalena Rodriguez and Teodoro Valencia, the parents of Teo Valencia, 23, gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Oakland to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Newark and the Newark police officer, Conrad Rogers, who shot Teo Valencia to death on March 11, 2016. Teo was shot in the back with an AR-15. Family attorney Dan Siegel said, “The only word for what the police officer did to Teodoro is murder.”
Plaintiffs Anne Weills, Mollie Costello, Allyssa Eisenberg, and Tova Fry were taken to Santa Rita Jail after being arrested for civil disobedience in 2014. The Four were held with other women in filthy jail cells. Toilets were overflowing. There were no menstrual pads for women who needed them, no garbage containers so used menstrual pads sat on top of left over food. All the women in those cells are “presumed innocent”. The Four and their attorney Yolanda Huang filed a civil rights complaint in order to be a voice for other women and demand they be treated with respect and human dignity.
In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report on the death of 23-year-old mother Krista DeLuca, who died in the main jail on September 29, 2015. Shortly after the release of the Grand Jury report, DeLuca's family filed a civil lawsuit against the County of Santa Cruz. Besides the County, the lawsuit lists as defendants the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff-Coroner Jim Hart, Under-Sheriff Jeremy Verinsky, Chief Deputy Jeff March, Lieutenant Kelly Kent, and California Forensic Medical Group, Inc. (CFMG), as well as a list of unspecified "John Does".
Sat Aug 20 2016 (Updated 09/21/16)
A Call to Action Against Slavery in America
Prisoners across the United States, including in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Virginia, and elsewhere, are calling for a strike on September 9. Their call to action states: On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.
UPDATE 9/9: In the early morning, protesters locked down across the entrance of the Alameda Fairgrounds, preventing passage into the Urban Shield expo. Twenty-three people were arrested.

In July, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office withdrew its sponsorship of a "Bulletproof" street survival training course for law enforcement officers after community activists questioned whether the former "Bulletproof Warrior" class should be offered by the department. Urban Shield, the controversial police militarization exposition and training, is scheduled for September 8 in Pleasanton. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition is calling for a mass demonstration on September 9.
iCal feed From the Calendar:
7PM Tuesday Oct 25 Keramet Reiter
7:30PM Thursday Oct 27 On The Hill: I Am Alex Nieto
7AM Thursday Nov 3 Onthe Hill - I am Alex Nieto
8PM Saturday Nov 5 Pussy Riot: In Conversation
Stop police violence in Santa Cruz Free SANTA CRUZ (1 comment) Saturday Oct 22nd 9:52 PM
Manifesto of Love Free SANTA CRUZ (3 comments) Thursday Oct 20th 1:53 PM
Winter is Coming - Stop Persecuting the Homeless! Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission Tuesday Oct 18th 11:10 AM
Rain or Shine--Freedom SleepOut #67 Rolls On Keith McHenry (story by Norse) (1 comment) Tuesday Oct 18th 12:53 AM
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