On August 27th the remaining SC11 defendants return to court as Judge Burdick hears evidence of DA Bob Lee’s financial connection to Wells Fargo and other arguments of bias against the DA’s office. We encourage signs and actions of support leading up to the 27th, and hope you will join us in court as the next phase of this drama unfolds.
The Santa Cruz 11 case is perhaps the only remaining large open case stemming from the Occupy movement. Almost three years after the original action the case is still without a set trial date and serious motions by Defense attorneys remain unaddressed. Questions that have plagued radical movements for decades sit with us as we wait.
What does justice look like? How do we create a healthier society through our actions? Do people care? Is this worth it?
Spending even a little bit of time in a courthouse you get a picture of how the State uses a myriad of tactics to find quick and profitable outcomes to cases. Behind many options are the questions “Do you really want to put in the energy to see this case through? Wouldn’t it just be easier to end it now?” Innocence and evidence end up meaning less than the toll it takes to fight your charges or the fear of the State’s threats.
Listening to the judgments and deals made with District Attorneys you also get a sense of how much weight money gets in this “justice” system. Often enough if people just pay the fine offered by the DA the details of the charges, what happened and why, lose meaning. One almost hears the sound of a cash register as person after person is ordered to pay and then passed on to probation.
In the SC11 case we can’t help feeling frustrated that things are still unresolved. If you have not been in the position of awaiting trial, it is often an extremely debilitating experience. How can one plan one’s life when at some unknown point in the possibly near future they might have a trial that takes up all their time for weeks? How can one plan one’s life when they don’t know if they will be in jail, up to their neck in fines, or tied to court dates that are imposed by other peoples’ schedules? The psychological effects of our judicial system have been proven to be traumatizing and this is speaking only of the internal affects. The pressure to take a deal and to get things over with builds as time goes, and the public tends to forget any sense of “innocent until proven guilty” putting the blame for the drawn out case on defendants. It takes courage in our political and criminal climate to fight charges.
Viewed in a certain light our society is pervasively motivated by fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of difference. Fear of punishment. Fear of not belonging. Each interaction with law enforcement carries the threat of batons, tazers, guns, courts, jails, prison. It takes incredible integrity to remain true to oneself when faced with these threats. What would happen if we started giving each other space to stand without fear? What would happen if we could identify when we are afraid, communicate our vulnerability and from that place of connection seek resolution and actions that serve not just ourselves but differing communities? We hope that the Santa Cruz 11 case can be a source of inspiration and an opportunity to challenge ourselves to step out from behind our fear. We hope that it can be a part of us asking ourselves, does this makes sense? And if not, what can I do about it?
As most other Occupy cases are closed and as our County faces drought and other serious issues, the SC11 case just feels absurd. Hundred of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent by the City in efforts of saving face and making Wells Fargo some pocket change all the while keeping our community members in this place of waiting. The DA’s office has been unwilling to budge from the over $25,000 restitution amount even when their own police department estimates that over 150 people were involved in the occupation of 75 River. Is this about “right and wrong”? About money? Or about power? The relationship between money and power is clear in the courthouse and in City Hall with Wells Fargo as a perfect example of how prioritization is given to certain economic positions. Recently news of the bank’s policy of forging foreclosure documents has been made public and while court proceedings regarding those actions are underway Wells Fargo is still evicting people and profiting as the most successful bank in this country.
We who live in Santa Cruz are responsible for creating the culture we live in. We can remain strangers and potential criminals to each other, or we can live in good faith and see each other’s struggles as our own. We must make up our own minds about what makes sense, and listen to our own hearts about what feels right. May we live connected to the land we live on, to the people we live with and to ourselves and our truths.
Yours in commitment to the hard work,
Friends of the Santa Cruz 11