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LOCAL News :: Police State

RIght Here in Santa Cruz: The Trial of the Century

Three UCSC students are being targeted by the criminal justice system for helping campus workers in their struggle for economic justice.
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the legislative branch (US Congress) eliminated protections of student and worker rights.


the executive branch (Chancellor Denton) ordered police brutality against non-violent Tent U protestors.


the judicial branch (SC County court system) is trying to criminalize UCSC students for fighting for social justice.


Javier, Kevin and Kyle took 30 milkcrates from Safeway with the hope to build a stage for low-paid service workers during the April 14 strike and return the crates the next day. They were illegally detained and cited by the Santa Cruz police for theft (even though they had no intent to permanently deprive the property from its owner, which is the legal definition). The crates were returned after the citation and the 3 settled on a civil compromise with Safeway, which stipulated that they would do community service with the SC Aids Project in exchange for a dismissal of all charges. During their court date of May 17, the judge rejected the compromise and tried to issue his own much harsher punishment for fighting for social justice. The 3, unwilling to be bullied by a corrupt district attorney and judge working at the behest of elites, decided to take the case to trial.

The CUE and UPTE campus unions will be going on strike this Thursday, May 26. AFSCME service workers won a fair contract and are now organizing for wage parity. We will fight for the workers and we will fight for the Milkcrate 3 because we are all victims of a UC budget and a state apparatus that seeks to exploit students and workers for the benefit of the top 1% of Californians. The trial will begin on Wednesday, June 1 at 8:30 a.m. in the SC County Courthouse (Ocean and Water). Please come to support the Milkcrate 3 and to see the American judicial system in action.

An injury to three is an injury to all!

¡Si se puede!

As a movement, we will not be satisfied until justice is realized for ALL students and workers in our community.

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Re: The Trial of the Century

The Trial of the Century? Come on. This sounds like an important case, but I was expecting to read about a little more than a milkcrate heist.

Questions and Comments

Who was the judge and who the D.A.?
Javier, Kevin, and Kyle are invited to speak on Free Radio Santa Cruz (give a call to 423-4833 to get on my show, or leave a message on the voicemail line of FRSC 427-4523 to contact other broadcasters).

Keith McHenry of San Francisco Food Not Bombs (actually the co-founder of Food Not Bombs) was charged with felony possession of milk crates in 1994-5. Check out Alexander Cockburn's column at the time:

Alexander Cockburn

The Nation, July 4, 1994
Cut Out His Heart. in San Francisco

No economic innovation or justice means plenty of poor people, duly anathematized as "on welfare" or as "homeless."

For feeding homeless people in San Francisco, Keith McHenry has been arrested ninety-two times since 1988, though never tried and never convicted. Lately, under pressure from San Francisco Mayor-and former police chief-Frank Jordan, the cops have changed their tactics. They have been hitting McHenry with trumpery charges of assault, which is a felony. These charges are contrived to fit California's new "three strikes and you're out" law-a variant on the provision in the crime bill President Clinton is pushing at the national level.

So here in a supposedly enlightened city we have the late-twentieth- century spectacle of a man facing life behind bars for giving food to the down and out.

McHenry's latest charge stems from an incident that took place on Friday, May 13, when he and a companion entered the office of Supervisor Barbara Kaufman in City Hall to distribute literature about their organization, Food Not Bombs.

Nancy Kitz, an aide to Kaufman, demanded they get out. McHenry recalls that he proffered a leaflet, saying, "Here, you might as well take one" The aide slammed the door, and McHenry says he put out his hand to stop it hitting his 71-year-old partner. The glass hit his hand, broke and severed an artery. For this he was arrested and charged with felony assault because City Attorney Randy Riddle, who has been harassing Food Not Bombs since 1989, claims he saw McHenry "an grily punch his fist through the pane of glass."

In San Francisco there's a Chamber of Commerce eager to have the city's homeless off Union Square, Civic Center Plaza and the parks; go someplace else, out of sight, out of mind, like Oakland. Anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 people in San Francisco are in shelters, or flophouse hotels, or making do in alleys and parks, Jordan and his colleagues would have you believe these are drug addicts and dangerous drifters lured to San Francisco by the prospect of a cushy life on public assistance. In fact, as with most cities, they are a mixture of folk looking for work but not finding it, vets, people who should be in mental hospitals and so forth.

Jordan's Matrix program, launched in August 1993, saw them hassled mercilessly, their backpacks and carts tossed into garbage trucks. Harassment extended to McHenry and his fellows, who were trying to feed the homeless and to assert that homeless people are full citizens with full citizens' rights. The city requires that food distribution proceed only if "all necessary permits" have been obtained. Food Not Bombs has two health permits and a million-dollar liability insurance coverage for the city, but there's always some infraction the police "special operations" team (formerly the Red Squad) can come up with. On May 10, for example, McHenry was charged with FELONY POSSESSION OF A MILK CRATE while staffing a litera ture table. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

Out of 720 arrests only one Food Not Bombs volunteer, Robert Norse Kahn, has gone to trial, handed sixty days (being appealed) for giving a woman a bagel in one of the city parks.

McHenry is up on his first felony charge in mid-July. There will be a series of national protests on July 11 against the felony frame-up of McHenry and the harassment of his associates. Call (415) 386-9209 for details.

It's difficult to imagine McHenry may end up with hard time for trying to feed people. But then it's difficult to accept that the way many cities and states are confronting social misery is to criminalize poverty. Close down public assistance, close down welfare, close your eyes and hope the homeless, the single mothers, the down and out will disappear. Jail them and maybe sterilize them. America is a society hot for final solutions.

I was arrested for hopscotch but its not that trivial

Jason Paschal, Pacific Ave.Tarot card reader, was arrested on misdemeanor charges "possession of a milk crate" by Sgt. Butchie Baker. These may seem trivial, but when you're getting screwed by the stacked deck of the criminal justice system its no longer trivial.


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