[Hpn] Homelessness And Political Repression, Green Party Fails The Test In Santa Cruz

steve argue steveorchid@yahoo.com
Mon, 3 Dec 2001 13:07:14 -0800 (PST)


HOMELESSNESS AND POLITICAL REPRESSION, THE GREEN PARTY
FAILS THE TEST IN SANTA CRUZ.

By STEVE ARGUE
   Green Party City Council Person Tim Fitzemaurice
and "progressive" Democrats Christopher Krohn and
Keith Sugar were swept into office out of a ground
swell of opposition to plans for expansion of the
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in 1998.
   At that time many had the illusion that these three
were going to over turn the cities sleeping ban (a
city law making it illegal for the homeless to sleep
at night), and confront the repressive nature of the
Santa Cruz Police Department.  Those illusions were
soon shattered.
   During Tim Fitzemaurice's past three years in
office he has opposed lifting the sleeping ban.  In
1998 the City Council was under public pressure to end
the sleeping ban.  At that time Fitzemaurice did
support a successful measure that lowered the fine for
sleeping outside or in a vehicle from $162 to $54. But
Fitzemaurice voted with the majority on the council
against lifting the sleeping ban.  The vote was Sugar
and Krohn for lifting the sleeping ban, Fitzemaurice,
Biers, Rotkin, and Hernandez against.
   This year (2001) when newly elected Council Member
(D) Ed Porter tried to bring the issue up for
discussion Mayor Fitzemaurice broke the rules of city
hall by vetoing the discussion.  Porter, in a Gore
like fashion, did not fight the violation of
democracy.
   Fitzemaurice's stand against the rights of the
homeless is in clear violation of the platform of the
Green Party, which opposes anti-homeless laws. 
Because of this fact Green Party member Robert Norse
has pushed for the Green Party of Santa Cruz to hold
Tim Fitzemaurice accountable.  Yet instead of the
Green Party officially distancing themselves from Tim
Fitzemaurice for his policies against the homeless
they have demonized Robert Norse for criticizing their
beloved Green Party mayor.  Many of these attacks on
Robert Norse are of a personal nature despite their
clear political motivations.
   It is the obligation of any political party to hold
those they elect to power to the positions of the
membership of the party.  If a political party does
not do so its political platform is only worth so much
toilet paper.  This has been the case of the Democrat
Party for years.  It is the case with the past three
years of Green Party power in Santa Cruz as well.  If
the Green Party truly represented change it would kick
Fitzemaurice out of the party for his violations of
party policy and violations of human rights, rather
than defending him. 
   The anti-activist and anti-homeless nature of the
Santa Cruz Police has been there since before the
Green Party took office.  In the 1980s the Santa Cruz
Police, according to court testimony of fellow
officers, carried out beatings of homeless people they
called operation code blue over their radios.  What
code blue meant was that officers were to arrive on
the scene where they beat homeless people to death.
   Sandy Loranger did jail time for feeding the
homeless soup.  When the judge offered her counseling
instead of jail Sandy Loranger replied, "I am beyond
rehabilitation."  Film footage shows B.D. was tackled
and pepper sprayed by Santa Cruz Police when he was
merely giving a speech for the rights of the homeless
on a downtown sidewalk.  In a similar manner film
footage shows Jim Cosner was tackled down and arrested
for taping up a poster of political prisoner Mumia
Abu-Jamal on a downtown fence.
   The repression and abuses have continued since the
election of Fitzemaurice, but the Green Party in
office has done nothing to stop them.
   One year before the election of Fitzemaurice
homeless and anti-police brutality activist John Dine
was shot and killed by Santa Cruz Police Officer
Connor Carey.  The claim by Police Chief Belcher was
that John Dine was pointing a toy gun at the officer
before he was shot.  Yet none of the many independent
eyewitnesses backed up that claim. 
   Even the Citizen's Police Review Board (appointed
by the City Council) recognized that John Dine was not
pointing a gun.  Yet the Citizen's Police Review Board
(CPRB) claimed not to be contradicting Chief Belcher
in their findings despite telling an entirely
different story.
   The CPRB's report stated that the shooting of John
Dine was justified because he was reaching for what
appeared to be a gun.  Because of activism, too much
of the truth had gotten out to the public for the CPRB
to stick with Chief Belcher's version of a pointed
gun, but they continued the cover-up with this new
falsified version of events where John Dine is
supposedly reaching for what appears to be a gun.  The
independent eyewitnesses refuted this CPRB version of
events as well.
   Some of the eyewitnesses had become so upset about
the cover-up by the city government, DA, and the
corporate media that they became activists in trying
to get out the truth and punish those responsible.
   The Santa Cruz Sentinel, one of the main corporate
newspapers in Santa Cruz, continues to refer to John
Dine as "a deranged man who was pointing a toy gun at
police". 
   On November 12, 1998, the one-year anniversary of
the police murder of John Dine, a protest 100 people
was organized demanding an end to the cover-up. 
Speakers at that event included newly elected City
Council Persons Christopher Krohn and Keith Sugar
along with myself.  The following day a photo of all
three standing in front of the demonstrators was
prominently displayed on page 2 of the Santa Cruz
Sentinel. 
   That same day, November 13th, I was brutalized and
arrested by Santa Cruz Police Officer Garner.  The
pretext for arrest was that I was selling newspapers
without a license.  Yet the First Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States is very clear about
protecting freedom of press.  It states, "Congress
shall make no law respecting the establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging freedom of speech, or of the press; or of
the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 
In fact the city law, on paper anyway, also allows the
selling of newspapers.  Officer Garner's request for a
license brings my arrest and beating to the level of
absurdity because the city does not even have a
license that it issues for selling newspapers in the
first place.
   Up until November of 1998 the police regularly
harassed and at times ticketed those who distributed
more truthful news than can be found in the corporate
media.  Those papers include the newspaper Street
Spirit which advocates human rights for the homeless,
various socialist papers, and the revolutionary
unionist paper: The Industrial Worker.
   I was released without charges after four days in
jail and after being brutalized by arresting officers
on the street, and also being beaten by sheriffs in
the county jail.  In addition Christopher Krohn and
Keith Sugar were criticized in an editorial in the
Santa Cruz Sentinel for their participation in the
November 12th demonstration.  After facing that
criticism Krohn and Sugar shut their mouths about
police brutality, including in the cases of John Dine
and myself.  
   I, on the other hand, knowing that freedoms have to
be fought for, was back out on the street selling
newspapers immediately after my release from jail.  I
also spoke out on the radio, TV, and in the newspapers
for freedom of press.  As a result of my actions and
other activists publicizing the case, the police have,
for the most part, stopped violating the right of
people to buy and sell newspapers in the City of Santa
Cruz.  The one exception I know of was in 2000 when I
was once again threatened with arrest for selling
newspapers.  I refused to back down and eventually the
police backed down instead.
   My attorney, Kate Wells, and I have also filed a
lawsuit in federal court for the Cities violations of
the constitutional rights of the people of Santa Cruz
to free speech.  The attorney for the City, who works
for the Green / Democrat City Council, is arguing that
it is not legal to sell newspapers in Santa Cruz.  A
Federal Judge, however, has ruled that not only was my
arrest a clear violation of constitutional rights, but
that the way the City is trying to defend its actions
now shows that it is City policy to violate
constitutional rights.  The City attorney's office,
again under the control of the Green / Democrat City
Council, is appealing the ruling and continuing to
argue against the First Amendment Constitutional right
to freedom of press. 
   Green Party Council Person Tim Fitzemaurice along
with Krohn and Sugar did nothing to defend freedom of
press when I was arrested.  In fact Fitzemaurice's
appointee to the so-called Citizen's Police Review
Board, Green Party member Arne Leff, voted that the
police acted properly in arresting me for selling
newspapers.
   The Green Party of Santa Cruz moved further in the
2000 elections in their opposition to freedom of
press.  They endorsed Arne Leff in his run for city
council.
   These are not small questions.  They involve the
protection, or not, of the most fundamental free
speech rights.  Freedom of press is difficult enough
in America as it is without arrest because of the lack
of advertising and accompanied low budgets that those
who try to get out the truth have to deal with.  John
Dine can no longer pass out flyers or participate in
protests to end the sleeping ban because he is dead. 
The fact that Connor Carey is still on the police
force, serves as a powerful warning to other would be
homeless activists that they may die for their
convictions.  
   The silence of the City Council only helped to
promote this repressive atmosphere.  The City Council
is the boss of the police through City Manager Dick
Wilson, who they have the authority to fire. 
Repressive and murderous cops have to be taught that
there are consequences for their crimes.
   Other activists for the rights of the homeless have
had their rights trampled by the police under the past
three years of Green Party / Democrat Party rule in
Santa Cruz as well.  These have included James Nay who
was arrested for writing things in chalk on the
sidewalk opposing the sleeping ban, and David Silva
who was arrested and given a psychiatric evaluation
for asking City Council, "What's it going to take,
self emollition to end the sleeping ban?"
   Activist for the homeless, Robert Norse, was
illegally arrested on September 19th and on October
3rd for circulating a petition at the Farmer's Market
asking for an end to police harassment of musicians,
artisans, and activists by the Santa Cruz Police at
the Farmer's Market.  The Farmer's Market is held in a
publicly owned parking lot and as a public gathering
space courts have ruled even on private property such
as malls, that the First Amendment still applies.  The
need for the petition was partially inspired by the
threat of police to arrest peace activist John
Theilking for a literature table he had set up on
September 5th.
   Judge Stevens later dropped the charges against
Robert Norse in court along with dismissing the
attempt at an injunction against him, but the arrests
were another clear violation of the free speech rights
of the people of Santa Cruz.  These arrests have been
coupled with the Green / Democrat City Government's
blatant fencing off of most of the areas that used to
be used for free speech tables at the Farmer's Market.

   Activists regularly pass out fliers, set up
literature tables, and circulate petitions at the
Farmer's Market for many causes.  In 1999 rent control
activist Bob Lamonica and activists for freeing U.S.
political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal were threatened
with ticketing and potential arrest by Officer Howes. 
Activists for both causes spoke out against the
violation of their rights, and in the following weeks
they defiantly set up literature tables and were left
alone. 
   Coupled with these blatant attacks on free speech
is constant low intensity warfare of harassment
against human rights activists, the homeless, and
street artisans and musicians.  As the police often
say to their victims, "This is Santa Cruz, we can find
a law for anything."  In 2000 Robert Norse was
ticketed for sitting at the base of Tom Scribner's
Statue.  Charges were later dropped when he produced a
photo of City Council members doing the same thing. 
K.C., who has attended a number of demonstrations, was
ticketed for blowing bubbles, which the officer
claimed were projectiles being thrown into traffic. 
That charge was dropped when it made the national
news.
   When dealing with the homeless the police often
illegally steal backpacks, vehicles, and
identification.  The police confiscations of
identification have now become especially serious with
the Green / Democrat City council now requiring
identification to be admitted into emergency winter
shelter.  There is no Santa Cruz emergency shelter in
the summer except that which takes months to get into
and only lasts one month.  The new rule gives the
police one more opportunity to victimize the homeless.
 The new rule also victimizes undocumented immigrants
who may need emergency shelter.
   Santa Cruz Police have stopped me five times under
the manufactured pretext of j walking, which carries a
heavy fine.  One of those tickets was thrown out of
court and I was later arrested for another I refused
to pay.  The police also took my car without
legitimate legal pretext and arrested me that same day
for watching, without intervening, the police hassle a
homeless man.  I never got my car back, but the charge
for witnessing police misconduct and then becoming a
victim of it myself was thrown out of court, after a
tape of the incident made by activist and Free Radio
DJ Vinny Lombardo was played for the judge.  While
this harassment was taking place, according to
witnesses, a photo of myself with drawn in wire rimmed
glasses and a goatee was hanging on the police station
wall. 
   Emboldened by years of repression and harassment
against the homeless and activists dealing with local
issues, the Santa Cruz Police attacked anti-war
protesters on May 22, 1999.  By Sgt. McMann's own
admission it was a lawful protest until the police
intervened.  The protest was against the US bombing of
Yugoslavia.  The target of the protest was a Democrat
Party fundraiser where Democrat Representative Sam
Farr was giving a speech.  Sam Farr had the nerve to
vote for the war and then turn around and say on the
news "Give peace a chance."  Protesters were demanding
an end to the war and exposing Sam Farr's real
policies.  Police brutalized protesters and five were
arrested.
   One of the main culprits in the attack was Officer
David LaFavor.  He had stated a couple years earlier
to activist David Silva that it was his goal to clean
the scum off of the streets of Santa Cruz.  When asked
who the scum were he listed the homeless, political
activists, and street musicians.  David Silva warned
the City Council about LaFavor at that time.
   The first person arrested, without reason, was Kao
Ling Lao.  The charge against her, Disturbing the
Peace, was later thrown out of court.  She was grabbed
by police and taken through the crowd to a waiting
patty-wagon.  Angry protesters wanted to know what she
was arrested for and followed the police to the
patty-wagon, which they peacefully surrounded and
blocked its exit.  As if to inflame the protesters to
react with another provocation, the police then went
after the only two people in the crowd who were
carrying small children. 
   Videotape shows Officer LaFavor passing up other
protesters and walking up to Julien who is holding her
four-year old child.  LaFavor immediately grabbed
Julien's wrist and put her in a pain compliance hold. 
A man with an infant was also grabbed by Officer
LaMoss.  Officer LaFavor then drags Julien around the
patty-wagon and stops in front of me with Julien's
child screaming in fear and Julien screaming in pain,
her hand turned purple from the pain compliance hold. 
I demanded that LaFavor stop torturing the woman. 
LaFavor did not comply with my reasonable commands.  I
then used the force necessary to stop the crime he was
carrying out, I punched LaFavor in the nose.  Julien
and her child were then able to escape.
   Nassim Zarriffi stepped in against the other case
of police child abuse, where he came up from behind
and pulled LaMoss's arm up saying, "You're hurting the
baby," in a situation where the baby was getting
pressed in between the arresting officer and the
father.  The father and child were then also able to
escape as the police turned on Nassim Zarriffi.  He
was charged with Misdemeanor Assault on an Officer, I
was charged with Felony Assault and Battery on an
Officer and Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest.  In addition
Jim Cosner and Vinny Lombardo were charged with
Resisting Arrest.  The arrested became known as the
Santa Cruz 5 and gained support in Santa Cruz, around
the country, and around the world.
   Due to massive pressure demanding justice, the
Citizen's Police Review Board found that excessive
force was used against Julien that endangered her
child, and against myself when I was arrested. 
Despite these facts I was convicted in court due to
the actions of a hostile judge, Judge Attack, the
incompetence of my attorney, Ben Rice, and the
conservative nature of the jury.  I endured 7 months
in the Santa Cruz County Jail where I was beaten by
guards and faced other abuses from authorities.
   Officer Lafavor no longer works for the City
Government.  According to a source in the City
Government LaFavor was given the choice of being fired
or resigning.  He has, however, after resigning gotten
a job in another police department.
   Today the slander against the May 22 demonstration
continues on the national TV show called "Great Police
Chases."  They have repeatedly shown falsified video
completely out of sequence showing me punching
LaFavor, but removing the video of Julien and her
child before the punch and replacing it with other
video of Officer LaFavor.  The show, after
deliberately falsifying the events of the
demonstration also mocks the protesters for being
pacifists.  Opposing America's unjust wars and bombing
of civilians does not necessarily make one a pacifist.
   When I ran for City Council the Santa Cruz Sentinel
repeatedly referred to me as "the cop puncher" while
other candidates like Arne Leff were referred to by
their professions.  In this context Arne Leff would
more appropriately have been called the constitution
crusher.
   Despite the clear video tapes showing the violence
and abuses of the police, no member of the Green /
Democrat City Council ever took any action on behalf
of the Santa Cruz 5 and the right to protest while we
were still facing charges.  Fitzemaurice's silence can
be contrasted to the decision of the membership of the
Green Party to put out a statement demanding the
charges against me be dropped and LaFavor be fired.
   Will the Green Party be hi-jacked nation wide by
opportunist career politicians who protect the status
quo while the majority of membership is unwilling to
make any significant moves to hold them accountable? 
The experience in Santa Cruz suggests it will.   
    The unwillingness of the Green Party to seriously
take on police abuses and anti-poor laws with their
position of power reflects a petty bourgeois reformist
outlook, rather than a revolutionary outlook of the
poor and working class.  The program of the Green
Party sees the owners of small businesses as the
counter weight to evil multi-national corporations and
see their maximum program as one where small
businesses are the base of the economy.  The reality
in Santa Cruz is that most of these small business
owners are the biggest proponents of anti-homeless
laws and the culprits in paying some of the lowest
wages that cause homelessness. 
    In opposition I promote methods of class struggle
against all exploiters who trample on the rights of
the poor and working class whether they be big or
small.  I call for doubling the minimum wage.  Any
business that can't pay a living wage should be driven
under.  I call for rent control to curb the gouging of
the landlords.  I call for firing the city manager,
the chief of police, and Officer Connor Carey as a
first step towards curbing police abuse.  I call for
an end to anti-homeless laws.  I call for the city
employee's living wage to be extended to part time
employees paid for with cuts in the six digit salaries
of the likes of Dick Wilson.  I call for the unity of
working and poor people against the bosses and their
government and call for an end to all racist, sexist,
and homophobic policies.  I oppose US wars to
subjugate the people of the world to U.S. corporate
interests.  I oppose the degradation of the planets
ecology for corporate profit.  I support the people in
organizing unions, strikes, demonstrations,
alternative media, and anti-capitalist and worker's
political parties to take on the power of the system.
   It is on this platform I ran for office while being
homeless in 2000 and received close to 3,000 votes,
and it is on this platform I may run again in 2002. 
This was very respectable given the fact that 3 of the
winners only got around 8,000 votes and did it with
much more money.  But whether I run or not, and
whether I win or not, change will only come through
all who are fed up with the system taking an active
role in making change.

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