Support the Santa Cruz 11!

Solidarity! Other activists in need of support!

Please join us for an evening of delicious food and inspiring music in a benefit dinner for the UCSC Highway 6.

We will be joining friends and fellow activists this Saturday in support of the Highway 6 and community activism in Santa Cruz. Below is the invitation from the organizers. We share this here with you because we see struggle against political repression as inter-connected, we see the valuing of private property and business as usual over real concerns of real people as incredibly problematic.

The public denouncing of the Highway 17 blockade served to silence the important questions the brave action attempted to raise. Where is power at UCSC and in Santa Cruz? Who suffers in the current conditions? How can we support those in need, those struggling and challenge those in power towards greater compassion, empathy and humanistic action? Let this Saturday’s gathering be a step closer as we work to ask important questions and answer those we are confronted with.

Thank you all for your continued support and your inspiring bravery.

Yours with dedication and compassion,

Friends of the SC11

———– https://www.facebook.com/events/1693106664241964/ ———

Members of the UCSC Highway 6 and the Santa Cruz community are organizing to raise funds to further the fight against UC political repression of student activism, at a time when students all over the country are rising against police brutality and inequality in education. We would love to have you be a part of this important movement-building event!

This event is also an opportunity for you to connect with other community activists, to learn more about recent student activism at UCSC and why things have escalated to the point that they have. There will be a catered dinner, a silent auction, and several inspiring performances.

Co-sponsored by UCSC Highway 6 and the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

UCSC Highway 6 Benefit Dinner
Saturday, August 29, 2015
5:30 – 8:30 PM
Louden Nelson Community Center
Requested Donation: $25 (sliding scale – no one turned away)

To RSVP and more information:ucschwy6@gmail.com

Case Closed – A Certain Kind of Resolution

800_santa-cruz-eleven-3Today three of the the remaining Santa Cruz Eleven defendants agreed to a plea deal with the prosecution, and it is likely the last remaining member of the group will follow suit at his hearing this coming Wednesday, bringing to a close the case that has been slowly moving along since 2011.

In front of Judge Siegel in the Santa Cruz Courthouse today Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, and Brent Adams, as well as Angel Alcantara through his attorney entered pleas of “no contest” to a charge of misdemeanor trespass. They waived time for sentencing and were each sentenced to:

  • pay $1,500 in restitution to Wells Fargo
  • pay $220 in court fines (minus any credits for time served)
  • serve 18 months formal probation – to be reduced to informal probation upon full payment of restitution
  • serve 100 hours of community service with any non-profit/community organization without having to report to/through the Community Options office
  • stay away from 75 River St (unless it officially becomes a Community Resource Center
  • costs associated with probation were waived
  • the felony vandalism charge was dropped

They were not assigned any further court date and were given 5 days to report to the probation office. Angel was given a longer period to report as he was not present in court, having not been on the official court calendar he authorized his lawyer to enter his plea on his behalf.

Financial support is being called for and supporters are planning fundraisers to ease the burden of restitution for the defendants. It is a perpetuation of State and Law based logic to hold these individuals soley (or even jointly) accountable for the arbitrary sum of money imposed on them as restitution. What would it be like to feel that burden as our own as radicals, activists, and community members striving for a different way of living?

The City originally offered a deal of $2000 in restitution, plus fines and 3 years formal probation. After a few hours of negotiating defense attorneys came to Gabriella and Brent with the lowered offer. Defendants discussed with their lawyers, each other and friends and eventually agreed to the terms.

Lots of factors were considered in those discussions. Nobody felt good about giving any money to Wells Fargo. In fact many of us asked each other and ourselves why that money needed to be paid at all. Where will it actually go? Why, after arguing for months for a restitution amount of around $26,000, did the City and Wells Fargo finally decide $6,000 was enough? Does this have anything to do with actual costs incurred in the occupation or is it simply punitive or symbolic?

The impact of trial and the risks involved were also taken into consideration. How would a trial lasting up to 6 weeks impact the community here? The defendants were ready for trial, and understood that could end with them having felonies and a larger restitution and were still ready. How could this end in a way that feels good for everyone? Was that even possible? The costs in energy, attention and funds of the trial were a real consideration. As were the needs of the different co-defendants. It was a lot to consider and it is likely that no one feels whole-heartedly good about the resolution. After all this whole affair was a tool of the State to derail conversations about class, houselessness, inequality, and community power.

Let’s all hold the courage of the defendants in our hearts, and let it spread to all the folks that deal with the courts, cops, dehumanizing laws every day.

It might seem like this case did not have very high stakes, and maybe it didn’t compared to others with decades long potential sentences and hundred of thousands of dollars in fines, and yet the negative impact on real lives has been felt. Many of us have talked about and looked at other struggles for inspiration and opportunities for solidarity. The City of Santa Cruz has been slowly increasing Police presence, increasing surveillance, and implementing stricter laws. The predominantly white and wealthy business/property owning population are raising the cost of rent, and living here. This has left many marginalized people in even more precarious positions. For those of us who see this happening, how do we struggle together to live in right relationship with each other and our dreams? One thing is to honor everyone who is trying.

The case of the Santa Cruz Eleven stemmed from an occupation of a downtown bank building that was given the dream and intention of becoming a real asset to the community. The attempt to turn an unused Wells Fargo property into a community center touches on the kind of change that might actually have rippling impacts in our lives. This is the spirit underneath the struggle in this case, and the power we walk with into our next projects. brent on bench with folks court 7.14 circle after court in courthouse 7.14

Photos from court courtesy of Alex Darocy from https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/07/14/18774900.php

Trial Approaches for the SC11! 

Friends and supporters, it is true. It seems likely that the remaining 4 members of the SC11 will be heading to trial later this month!

With a readiness hearing on July 22nd and Jury selection to start on the 27th, we will be gearing up awareness and support for the remaining 4. 

Help us spread the word about the court dates and keep and eye out for upcoming rallies and opportunities to come together.

Years and hundreds of thousands of dollars later let’s show we are still here supporting our community and urging the prosecution to drop the charges!!

Bob Lee says one thing and does another

Bob-Lee2-104x150 Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee’s office has been accused by Santa Cruz attorneys of bias based on his financial relationship to Wells Fargo, the plaintiff in the SC 11 case. This comes in stark contrast to his statement to the Mercury News (below) regarding the influence of money and private relationships in court proceedings. Bob hasn’t come out and shared his relationship to Wells Fargo, or made any public comment on the Santa Cruz 11 case as the years and cost to taxpayers add up.

“The last thing I want is the appearance of influence or bias, so I would never give consideration or a break to a donor or a friend,” said Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee. “We just firewall it. If someone has a problem, they should go to the prosecutor’s supervisor like everyone else.”

http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_13665332?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

Surprise move by Defense Attorneys – Post hearing update

 

“The show must go on” and on and on and on.

Never failing to be surprising the Santa Cruz 11 case saw yet another interesting turn of events. With Judge Burdick still in place presiding over the case after the DA’s office attempt to recuse him, it seemed that the hearing on Tuesday would leave us with a new trail date. However the defense attorneys have been busy and filed a motion to recuse the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s office from the case based on bias stemming from DA Bob Lee’s financial relationship to the “victim” of the case Wells Fargo.

The motion casts doubt as to whether or not it is fair for the DA’s office to be hearing the case and delays the trial again as the motion is dealt with. It is likely that the DA’s office will request a specific hearing challenging the validity of the claim as it would look pretty darn bad on mister Bob Lee’s report card to have this claim on public record. Perhaps this move will motivate him to either get involved with the case and authorize a reasonable solution, or at the very least detach himself from the case and give prosecutor Greg Peinado the ability to move the case along.

Due to the lack of clarity as to who will be trying to the case in trial, a trial date was not set.

A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for August 27th where the motions will be heard. There was also an earlier date or two scheduled to address motions filed by individual attorneys. Besides the main recusal motion aforementioned there are numerous other motions on the table from the defense including a separate motion to recuse the DA’s office for their poor handling of the case.

Judge Burdick made a number of public remarks regarding his opinion and is clearly trying to find a way to end the case. He said it was “too old” and it was clearly in everyone’s best interest (the court, the defendants, the DAs office and the public) for a resolution to be found. He also said that the only way the four defendants could be help responsible for the total amount of alleged damages (above or around $20,000) would be if they were proven to be the leaders who directly enabled unnamed others to enter the building and subsequently damage it. Defense attorney Jesse Ruben responded by acknowledging that the Occupy movement from which this case comes from (Burdick actually called the case “the occupy case”) clearly identifies itself as leaderless.

The topic of restitution was a big one and the subject of at least one pending defense motion. The DA’s office argues that the total damages should be split between the four defendants while the defense attorneys site the police department’s estimate that there were 150-200 people involved and argue that the total should be divided by that number. The different being thousands or hundreds of dollars. Burdick seems somewhere in the middle. Attorneys and the Judge met off record to discuss a potential deal that would involve a misdemeanor plea, three years informal probation and a cap of restitution at $1,250 each. This has not been offered yet and it remains to be seen what, if any, deal defendants would take.

It is worth mentioning again how absurd this whole process is. Hundreds of people took over an unused and ostensibly empty bank building, occupied it for a few days then cleaned up and left peaceably. Wells Fargo, the most profitable bank in the US, hired out of town businesses to drive in from over the hill to clean up and encouraged them to boost their costs. They claim over $25,000 of damages. The City of Santa Cruz asked for public help to identify participants in the occupation and eventually charged 11 people with the four original offenses including felony conspiracy. Over two and half years later there are 4 defendants facing two charges and the tax payers of Santa Cruz have funded a case that has cost well over $100,000. The DA’s office has already been sanctioned for failing to follow court orders and now Bob Lee’s relationship to Wells Fargo casts clarity as to why things are where they are at.

drop-all-charges-now_2-11-14

Over and over we’ll say it. Enough is enough. DROP THE CHARGES!

 

 

 

 

Court tomorrow the ball gets rolling again

Join us tomorrow in Department 6 at 8:15 as the remaining four of the SC11 appear in court again.suport banner on steps

Recently the prosecution’s motion to recuse Judge Burdick was denied and with that block to proceeding gone the lawyers are once again preparing to schedule a trial date. We hope that tomorrow we’ll have a clear idea (again) when trial will be.

Come show your support and see first hand what happens.

A minor update from the Sentinel

Ruling against Santa Cruz County DA’s office upheld in bank takeover case

While not big news, Judge Burdick’s sanction against the DA’s office is upheld and they will have to pay the $500 fine. It is interesting that Bob Lee’s office was able to timely appeal this ruling and yet couldn’t present evidence in this case within court ordered time frame. The District Attorney’s Office has mishandled this case from the beginning, from the moment they filed the charges against the eleven, and they continue to do so as we wait to the outcome of their motion to dismiss Burdick.

The following is the article from the Sentinel:

By Stephen Baxter

sbaxter@santacruzsentinel.com

Posted: 04/15/2014 05:29:05 PM PDT

Santa Cruz >> An appellate court has upheld a judge’s decision to levy a $500 fine against the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office for not promptly sharing evidence with defense attorneys in a bank takeover case from 2011.

Eleven defendants involved with Occupy Santa Cruz initially were charged in a takeover of a vacant bank building at 75 River St. in Santa Cruz. In February 2012, defense attorneys asked prosecutors for “all reports, photographs and videos” related to the takeover, according to judges in the Sixth District Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors supplied some of the material, but in May 2012 it was revealed that there was additional police surveillance footage that was not released, according to court records.

Prosecutors blamed technical problems for not providing the footage later that year and a preliminary hearing again was delayed. Santa Cruz County Superior Judge Paul Burdick imposed a $500 sanction against the District Attorney’s Office for not providing the material.

District Attorney Bob Lee filed for an appeal of the ruling and fine in March 2013, but appellate judges upheld the decision in an April 4 ruling.