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LOCAL Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Vigilantes On the Upswing?

The Santa Cruz Neighbors meeting is 7 tonight at Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St. Santa Cruz Neighbors
I'm posting the following Sentinel story which notes a neighborhood meeting, which I fear may be a police-orchestrated anti-homeless affair with the usual Drug War Hysteria providing protective cover. Instead of dealing with drug use and sales as a medical problem, and proposing solutions along those lines, some folks are intensifying the "War Against Crime".

Folks should remember it was the Downtown Neighbors (a different group than the Santa Cruz Neighbors, admittedly) that got us the "no homeless parking at night" regulations all over the downtown and spearheaded the fight to keep them Sleeping Ban.

I've given Lynn Robinson a call and hope to get some clarification on where her group stands. I've also asked her to invite some homeless reps and social service folks.

In a city where it's criminal to sleep at night after 11 PM for 95% of the City's homeless community, I'm particularly sensitive to calls for "law and order" from conservative residents.

Below are some comments from Becky Johnson (still banned from posting on indymedia), who alerted me to this meeting and e-mailed out the Sentinel story, which follows.

Note to reader: Sometimes homeless people will take recyclables out of city recycle containers for their own profit. While the City criminalizes such tactics, the homeowner is not harmed, and actually has more room for more recyclables because of the practice. --Becky Johnson of HUFF

From: the Santa Cruz Sentinel
June 21, 2005

Neighbors talking tough on burglaries, street drugs
Sentinel staff writer
Downtown resident Michael Bethke wants his street and surrounding neighborhood to be a haven — not a place for bike thieves and drug pushers to feel comfortable.

"We’re blessed in Santa Cruz to have a sanctuary for butterflies and whales," Bethke said. "But we should also have a sanctuary for people. That’s what our neighborhoods should be."

Bethke and other residents will join forces tonight to share experiences and frustrations associated with crime and neighborhood nuisances that negatively impact quality of life. They also hope to find solutions and lean on city leaders for help.

The Santa Cruz Neighbors meeting is 7 tonight at Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St. Santa Cruz Neighbors is an informal group that links residents with city officials.

On the upswing recently, neighbors say, are stolen bicycles, abandoned cars, auto theft, burglary and drug sales, particularly methamphetamine.

Some residents have complained about their garbage recycling containers being ransacked for items that can be turned in for money.

Crime problems are not confined to one pocket of town, though Beach Flats and the lower Ocean Street neighborhoods often see more than their fair share, residents and police say.

"These are quality of life issues people shouldn’t have to worry about," meeting organizer Lynn Robinson said. "We need to decide what our course of action could be to get a handle on the problem."

Several city leaders are expected to attend tonight’s meeting, including police officers and representatives from the Public Works Department and Redevelopment Agency.

Lt. Lee Sepulveda said the Police Department has been meeting with city residents in similar forums for years. The meetings are beneficial, he said, because people are able to create connections with officers and share information that might otherwise go unnoticed.

"The main thing is contact with people we don’t normally get," Sepulveda said. "It gives residents easier access to services in the city."

Sepulveda couldn’t say whether meth use was on the rise, only that the supply is consistent and is "plentiful and cheap."

"It’s easy to manufacture, and they can make a lot of it," he said. "Plus, it’s cheaper than cocaine."

Bethke said he looks forward to collaborating to find solutions, rather than push criminals from one neighborhood to another.

For information, call 818-6376.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord (at)

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Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"Instead of dealing with drug use and sales as a medical problem, and proposing solutions along those lines"

So to project the homeless from getting swept up in the net of this injustice, you're willing to lend your voice to re-inforce the injustice of treating drug USE and drug SALES as problems only of a different type?

Drug use is not drug abuse. Only fascists paint all drug use with the same brush. Whether it's Vicodin with a prescription for someone's back pain, or crystal meth for someone trying to work 2 jobs, drug use can be well within a person's rights.

Drug sales isn't even medical! It's economic, and it's only a "problem" if you own stock in Bayer Pharmaceutical or some other mega-corp drug cartel trying to crush affordable home-grown (or home-cooked) generic alternatives to their over-priced monopolized patented fancy chemicals.

The homeless are surely victims of injustice and repression, but this business of betraying Peter to spare Paul is divisive, dishonest, and only fragments the social justice movement. The homeless aren't the only victims, and helping the real criminals to create more victims in another political neighborhood is sick and wrong.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"...or crystal meth for someone trying to work 2 jobs.."

That's what every employer wants, some tweaker running his equipment.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"which I fear may be a police-orchestrated anti-homeless affair with the usual Drug War Hysteria providing protective cover."

Perhaps there are actually people in Santa Cruz who think that quite a few drug addicts are forced to commit crimes in order to support their habit, and therefore they wish to take action?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and all - but not all people are homeless because of capitalism.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"That's what every employer wants, some tweaker running his equipment."

"Some tweaker" is a prejudiced statement. You can't paint all users with the same brush. Many employees use meth, like coffee, and neither their behavior nor reliability is negatively impacted. Many times you won't even know someone is using (unless you knew about their 2nd full time job.)

Who are you to judge if no harm has been done?

If an employee is doing their job well, isn't that enough? If they aren't doing it well, does it matter why not?

"Perhaps there are actually people in Santa Cruz who think that quite a few drug addicts are forced to commit crimes in order to support their habit, and therefore they wish to take action?"

Then let them take action for THOSE crimes, rather than treating as criminals an entire class of people who have done no wrong and only "might" commit "some" crime according to your prejudice. What is this, Minority Report?

Why don't you make freedom a crime. After all, freedom of choice leads to crime.

Why not make poverty a crime? If you think drug use "forces" people to steal, well poverty is no different. Let's just arrest all of the poor.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

Crystal meth is currently the most common drug of choice for midwestern housewives.

As common as steroid use in law enforcement.

Crystal Meth? Give me a break!

I can't believe that anyone with any level of education or common sense would "normalize" the use of crystal meth. Does someone working two jobs justify the existence of this substance that kills people and destroys families? There are plenty of legal, over the counter, substances that provide enough "juice" to work yourself into obilivion. Coming from a family of addicts in various stages of recovery (from crystal meth and alcohol), the memories of years of paranoid, violent, and erratic behavior from my siblings are fresh enough that I had to comment on this nonsense. Give me a break! Whoever posted those comments must be or know someone in the early stage of addiction. Crystal Meth is dangerous to those who cook it, those who live around them, those who use it, and their families. I've seen a lot of postings on this site that I don't necessarily agree with, but I respect the writer's point of view. But crystal meth is okay? That's just ridiculous.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

Addicts aren't victims of crime, they're just sad pathetic people who have messed themselves up. We only hear about the failures and the crazies, because people who can handle their drugs responsibly don't make it into the news, and certainly never speak out to say "I use this, and my life is okay." They're afraid of stigma, and punishment by self-righteous crusaders for the Public Morality.

Even cooking meth is just a thing. Working on a car is dangerous, so is building a house, even riding a motorcycle. If you don't know what you're doing and aren't smart enough to do it right. That don't mean someone else can't. Leave anything dangerous to the experts, duh.

People dont need meth and it's dangerous anyway? People don't need motorcycles and they're dangerous anyway. But that's called freedom, jackass. Freedom to take risks and make bad decisions. Except when you cross a line and try to make other people pay for your mistakes. Then you're a thief. But that doesn't make the rest of us thieves. That's called freedom too! So bugger off.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"Who are you to judge if no harm has been done?"

You need to get a grip on reality. I've used meth and been around a helluva lot of people that have too. To compare it's use to riding a motorcycle is the height of ignorance.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

Aside from the title of this post, there is little to suggest vigilantism from Santa Cruz Neighbors. As far as i can tell, they don't really have the mettle to handle all these problems they feel they have with the riff-raff on their own. Given what i've seen of the meeting announcements, the meetings are populated at least as much by police and city bureaucrats as they are by conservative Santa Cruz homeowners. In fact, the meetings are generally in the Police Community Room.

Santa Cruz Neighbors should be watched and taken account of, but i would hesitate to label them "vigilantes" at this point. My impression is that they are primarily well-off local home-owners with overdeveloped senses of entitlement and rarefied notions of "neighborliness". They have a long way to go before they become the Citizens' Protective Associations of yore, which assaulted and murdered unionists in addition to establishing such inocuous "public service" institituions as volunteer fire departments.

If there are any SC Neighbors out there (and i imagine there are), i'd love to hear your feedback, regardless of the "Drug War" red herring.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

Reality? You want to punish people for victimless non-crimes that are fully within their Constitutional rights, and you call me unreal? Possession of coffee or being under the influence of tobacco doesn't hurt anyone, but the last time beer was made illegal the black market price was so high that it created violent organized crime gangs in the 1920s.

Weak and immoral people were committing crimes to afford beer then. Does that mean beer and beer-drinkers are all evil, and that beer is too dangerous to legalize?

Burglary is a crime. Murder is a crime.

Beer is a right. Tobacco is a right. Pot is a right. Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, LSD, and mushrooms are all rights too.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

"You want to punish people for victimless non-crimes that are fully within their Constitutional rights, and you call me unreal? "

What in the flying F are you talking about? Me personally, I don't want to see ANYONE punished for doing ANY type of drug. I also don't want to see innocent people suffer from the consequences of being around tweakers. Victimless my ass.

Re: Vigilantes On the Upswing?

Every American citizen, working, unemployed, homeless or whatever–deserves to be treated like a human being.

People who steal to survive or to support an addiction deserve free medical treatment, counseling and housing until they are able to function and take care of themselves.

We all are born with different levels of fortitude and stamina and some of us crack and cannot function in this hellish human hive that passes as "civilization."

If the psychopathic US government wasnt spending more than half a BILLION on weapons to kill people EVBERY YEAR —and 200 billion on the Iraq slaughter, 700 BILLION dollars (700 thousand million) would be available EVERY YEAR to help citizens in need and to clean up the environment.

After school programs for latch key kids, gang intervention counseling, job training, childrens services, battered womens shelters, counseling for men who batter, child nutrition programs, funding for education, and local businesses could be funded and supported, creating thousands of neeeded local jobs doing satisfying meaningful work at a family wage.

But this wont happen since we live in a DEATH WORSHIPPING culture in which parents cheer as their young adults go to Iraq to kill the children of other parents and where a constitutional amendment may forbid desecration of the flag-a piece of cloth (while it is LEGAL to desecrate womens bodies in making pornography).

It should be clear to everyone who can reason that our nation is run by PSYCHOPATHS who dont give a damn about any of us-right wing, left wing, black white etc) beyond our ability to be exploited.

The god-kings in Washington decree that no women should be able to have an abortion or even use birth control since the unborn are property of the US govt to be used as cheap workers or soldiers later on. Pro-"life." What a joke. Its about government ownership of fetuses and young adults.

The mother may not "terminate" her fetus but the government can —when the ex-fetus is old enough to be send to die in an oil war.

We are the human herd and are the cattle of the rich . They dont identify us as human. We are just human RESOURCES. The word "per-capita" means "each head" as in heads of cattle.

The world is run by wealthy psychopaths and the world battle fields are stadiums and cock fighting rings in which modern gladiators (soldiers) kill each other as the rich watch with blood thirsty amusement—as they grow ever richer selling weapons.

Too bad they cant be put in mental hosptals.

What would we be like if they werent constantly brainwashing us to be violent and stupid? Would we all rise to the best of our abilities to be loving and caring humans?


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