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Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

01/10/06 - Around 100 Santa Cruzans showed up at the City Council today to demand a denouncement and investigation into the Santa Cruz Police Department's infiltration of a local group's organizing meetings.

Far from being limited to the individuals that were spied on, protesters included former mayors, the ACLU, artists, peaceniks, high school students, UCSC Students Against War members that were recently spied on by the Pentagon, and a local man who fled fascist Czechoslovakia.

From the "Just Us" Campaign and Rally announcement:

"The Santa Cruz Police Department was discovered infiltrating and conducting undercover surveillance of two of the meetings of the organizers of the Last Night DIY Parade, which was a totally peaceful, positive, and creative event in downtown Santa Cruz on New Years Eve!!...

"This event was organized by 'just us' - 'just us' the people who live here, work here, and try to create positive and peaceful change - if this group can be spied on, so can any of the rest of our groups."
This puppet spied on both the pre-meeting Rally and the City Council meeting itself.
Protesters started gathering at 6pm at City Hall, although most did not arrive until 6:30 or 7. A local corporate TV station records their 6 o'clock report.
One of the first protesters to arrive was this "spy."
Click on image for a larger version

After a rally and speakers outside in the cold, the crowd took their seats in the City Council meeting room. Many also lined the edges of the room, waiting for their turn to speak.

Cynthia Matthews, the current Mayor, said that the SCPD has launched an internal investigation, however most speakers said that wasn't enough - and that an independent investigation was needed because 'the police can't police themselves.'
Click on image for a larger version

Rico Thunder, one of the 'un-organizers' of Last Night Santa Cruz, details the Police infiltration at their meetings before being rudely cut-off by the Mayor after he spoke for more than 2 minutes (the speaking limit for the evening). Another public speaker wanted to hear more from Rico, and tried to give his remaining minute to him, however Mayor Matthews wouldn't hear it.
Ruth Hunter of Santa Cruz's Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
This man spoke at the Council meeting of how he fled Communist/fascist Czechoslovakia and moved to the U.S. due to government spying and repression of political activity. He told of how he was followed by spies at the time and he does not like to think that Santa Cruz and the U.S. is moving in this direction.

Here he prepares his notes during the pre-meeting rally.
Sherry Conable, of the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, helped the "Just Us" rally get organized. She told us that she was thinking of how Bush claims that God speaks to him, so she wanted to counter that with religiously motivated messages (such as 'Thou Shall Not Spy') for this event.
Kris Krohn, a former mayor of Santa Cruz, asked that the City Council independently investigate not just this incident of spying, but any surveillance or repression of political activity over the past few years.
Grant from Santa Cruz's wonderful Art and Revolution, responsible for the great puppets you see at local protests, including this action.
Click on image for a larger version

The City Council did not seem overly awake. The only Councilmembers to speak on the issue were Cynthia Matthews and Mike Rotkin, who spoke once. The rest of them remained silent, while one of the City's paid lawyers ignored everyone and read, scratched his ear, or just spaced out.

Both Matthews and Rotkin felt that the SCPD's internal investigation was sufficient for now, although Rotkin said it doesn't neccessarily mean the issue is over.

There was no word on this issue at the meeting from Tony Madrigal, Emily Reilly, Ryan Coonerty, Ed Porter, or Tim Fitzmaurice.
Thanks to the organizers and participants of this event. For larger/additional photos or to reprint any, please email sugarloaf (at) - thanks!

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Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I forgot to mention that these were just a few of the many speakers that asked the City Council to take action against SCPD spying.

Re: Action Against SCPD Spying

Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Undercover Officers Spying on Grassroots Santa Cruz New Year's Parade Meetings

Thousands Celebrate the New Year with DIY Last Night Santa Cruz Parade

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I wonder if the city council members who did not say anything will make any sort of announcement regarding their stance on the issue.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Two former mayors, numerous activists, and a broad swath of the community came out to express their outrage and disappointment to the City Council during Oral Communications.

Currently information from the police department is locked down while they perform their own whitewash, I mean, internal investigation. After that, the police chief will report to the city council. In all likelihood, they will solemnly accept it as truth and issue some sage words to the police department to be more careful not to embarrass the city.

Though to the council's credit, one of the council members spoke up to say that the internal investigation was only the first stage to find out what the police know, and it did not rule out further action by the council later.

I assume they will be precisely as responsive to this as we insist they be and no more. So clearly we have a job to do to insist to the city council that as the people's representatives responsible for the city police that they put a stop to this.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I was at the rally and meeting last night and blogged about it here: >>>
A commenter thinks we should feel sorry for the infiltrators because they had to sit through the meetings and then (horrors!) go back and file reports! The commenter really seems to think they're the ones wronged in this situation. Would anyone enjoy responding?

Great photos. And thanks for bringing this issue to the community's attention!

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Can't say I find the "spying" all that horrifying, considering what they were "spying" on (a large public parade that intentionally went out of its way not to involve local government).

But then, since the SCPD used this secret information gathered to brutally suppress the event, I suppose...

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

thanks so much Josh - great photos - hope we will see even more put up soon!

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

While there's nothing wrong with rallying or petitioning for change in government policies, I don't see such actions as truly changing people's lives. Sure, the City Council *might* investigate the presence of undercover cops at the Last Night meetings, and then *might* mumble something about how it "maybe wasn't the most prudent course of action" or some other BS like that. What does that really accomplish? The police will continue to harass, profile, and spy on the populace. I wasn't at all surprised or outraged when I heard that the SCPD had been spying on Last Night. If I weren't such an anti-authoritarian, I'd applaud them for doing their job.

All you self-described "radicals": shouldn't you be going to the "root of the problem," as that's what makes a radical? Rather than denouncing two individuals, shouldn't you try some more direct action? Again, rallies can be fun and great, but they won't create radical change. The root of this problem goes way deeper than the SCPD, way deeper than the City's fascistic policies, all the way down to the fundamentals of civilization (which is far deeper than most care to look). The sanctioned violence and subterfuge that the police employ in defense of the status quo is indeed a serious problem for "the people" and everyone else as well. But as I'm something of a hypocrite, I don't really know how to go about eliminating civilization, city councils, or police departments. A rally is a good start, but I'd like to see some MOMENTUM!

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Indeed one does need to get to the root of the problem. And true no one thing we do is going to change an entire system. But it is possible with one little event, one little project to change one person's life. And it is possible for lots of little things to have a big impact.

Our focus of late is building a new world within the shell of the old. We continuously ask ourselves what would we like to see in the world and then we work to make it happen.

Increasingly, I'm finding that the institutional structures (police, administrators, banks, feds, etc) that used to bring fear in our hearts don't have any hold over us. Afterall, the police, our elected officials, corporations are just people. Just people, not too unlike us.

So if we want to make radical change, the only thing stopping us is our own perceived limitations. If we want a parade, we have a parade. If we want a school outside of institutional control, we create one. If we want free entertainment outside of the stream of commerce, we do it.

And if we want to create a beautiful world with self-reliant, connected and vital communities, and we are commit to doing it, there is nothing that can stop us.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"Increasingly, I'm finding that the institutional structures (police, administrators, banks, feds, etc) that used to bring fear in our hearts don't have any hold over us. Afterall, the police, our elected officials, corporations are just people. Just people, not too unlike us."

With the police it may not be so noticable, as the chief is selected by the council, but with the Sheriff, whom one elects directly, the people who much sway...

...The people who complain the loudest are the ones in the minority who are flabbergasted that the majority didn't vote as they should have... ;)

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

How about a collective to get the "law" to address something of real importance: Santa Cruz's best-kept secrets of:

* its drug-rape epidemic (SC is the #2 diversion drug trafficking region: source DOJ. SC has this country's worst drug-rape epidemic: source WCS Sexual Assault Division, Project GHB, SF FBI)

* and its lengthy and extensive criminal corruption within the courts, DAO and PD?

You have the country's worst drug-rape epidemic where criminals are poisoning your daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers to rape them--some wind up dying, if not from the drug-poison from the trauma of a very, very corrupt system: e.g. "you got young girls hurling themselves off cliffs after this happens" (Source SJ FBI Agent)

Your DA, Bob Lee flat out refuses to file on crimes against women (Source: SCPD Inv Commander, Police Officers, WCS, WAWC, DV advocates)and even goes so far as to remove evidence from files to falsely lower his rates (source: DAO Victim Witness, Commissioner members, former heads of Women's Agencies local and other No CA regions). His filing rate is LESS than a third a percentage point (data obtained via DAO and WCS).

You have judges with known drug-trafficking connections (source: DEA, SCPD Inv Commander, WCS SAPM, SART, etc.) who do whatever it takes to terrorize crime victims by forcing them into silence and/or fleeing for their lives (source WAWC Director, WCS, Former head of SCCPVAW, other commission members, former feminist activists, other Nor Cal Agencies--some whose members work for the PD, female professionals within SC-DAO, MSWs who formerly sat on commissions). And also including: denying Restraining Orders and filing ROs against crime victims, bankrupting crime victims, slander and defaming crime victims through fraudulent evaluators (yes, some people will do anything for money. SC has a high rate of psychologists who have had their license revoked for fraud and criminal conduct Source: CA Board of Psychology) and even imprisoning crime victims and quite a nasty talent for making crime victims "disappear" (Source: WCS, former DV Commissioner, former head of SCCPVAW, SCPD Inv Commander, officers, former Ind Review Board, Citizen Review Board)Your judges are known batterers and one even sits on your own DV Commission (Source: SCPD Inv Commander, Detective, former DV commissioner members, Judge's former spouses)!

I don't even want to get into all the RICO corruption around Family Court (selling children to known abusers, sex-offenders, drug-dealers..) except to say that there's a reason that Santa Cruz has the highest (or second highest) rate of DV in the COUNTRY. Nothing like a SC judge to get an innocent child and mother murdered....

Your PD has already been wiped out (80s) due to Public Corruption. "There was a time women were raped when they went to report rape." You have rogue police officers assaulting crime victims again (source: WCS, WAWC, former activists, former head of CPVAW, DV activists), destroying evidence and abetting offenders.

You have a city council and Board of Supervisors who flat out refuse to respond to any crime victim (Source: WCS, WAWC, CPVAW, former feminist activists and writers, other Nor Cal Agencies, LAPD, CA NOW) and far, far too many within the system resigned to join in on the corruption ($$ to be made via bribes, etc.) or resigned to "That's the way it is here: it's always been this way.."

Maybe, just maybe the community should focus its energy to MAKE law enforcement do something so utterly odd as ENFORCE THE LAW for the lives of women and children instead of wasting tax payer monies on silly student spy surveillance.

As a gruff SF FBI Agent said to me, "We know all about Santa Cruz. The only way a woman could be safe would be to move!!" To which I said, "Whaaaatt?!?!" and he replied,
"Hey, Lady, waddya want?!? Your G-damned Mayor is doling out drugs right on the Courthouse Steps!!"

Point taken: Mike Rotkin has far more important things to do than address the epidemic violence against women and children in Santa Cruz...he's too busy getting high writing more of his anti-homeless hate-ordinances or throwing self-indulgent temper tantrums because another council member thought his starve-the-starving-build-the-convention-center was a little too, uh, fascist. And to think the NY all-the-news-that's-unfit-to-print Times labeled him a "marxist feminist"... As if!

Maybe, just maybe you could get law enforcement to address the domestic terrorism against innocent women and children occurring every day in Santa Cruz. Wouldn't that be...democratic?

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

It's comforting to know that there are folks like angryradical who still value the traditional hallucinogenics like acid, and stay away from those neo-con designer drugs.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Paranoid? Nostalgic,
Yes, it's a decades long conspiracy between me, the FBI, 15+ women's agencies, CA NOW, decent members of the PD, DAO and Courts, activists, journals, NLS databases, etc.... we did it just to rattle you. See how "we" are?

Grow up. Change your diapers and throw your don't-crimp-my-drug-rape-rite-of-misogynistic-passage tantrum elsewhere. This is Indy media: a forum to post and read critical information that the neo-con controlled mainstream media is intentionally suppressing. You know, people like you who, when confronted with a truth that exposes their own malevolence, start slinging deranged slander. Deceptive mendacity is neo-con's true calling-card. Maybe you've got something far more to hide than your blatant misogyny?

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

What is this sons a ? We need ot stop this covert operations by the cia and the police.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"What is this sons a ? We need ot stop this covert operations by the cia and the police."

A domestic operation by the CIA?!!

Good heavens, considering that's illegal, I betcha it would have garnered a tad more attention, what covert operation is this?

I somehow doubt that the CIA spends much time in Santa Cruz...

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

That's quite a cover up going on, angryradical...

Hmmmm, anywho, when my sister filed a restraining order against her boyfriend they granted it quite expiditiously, and the ADA involved even wanted to press criminal charges, to which my sister declined, not wanting to exacerbate the situation...

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

angryrad -- sorry, friend, but it is YOU who are damaging society's ability to confront genuine problems: rape, drugs, corruption, injustice. Ranting and raging about endless conspiracies under every rock destroys credibility of those who are making legitimate attempts to right these wrongs. I would suggest you trade in your acid for some anti-psychotics, but that would probably send you off on a tirade about how doctors are part of the conspiracy.

Back on Topic

Back on topic, unconstitutional police infiltration of the organizers of this event by the SCPD was/is the outrageous thing we are commenting on. It will take more than an IA “investigation� to clear this matter up.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"Back on topic, unconstitutional police infiltration of the organizers of this event by the SCPD was/is the outrageous thing we are commenting on. It will take more than an IA “investigation� to clear this matter up."

Was it unconstitutional? I think there'll be trouble proving that...

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Even if it wasn't unconstitutional it was still wrong. Bill Clinton getting a blowjob wasn't unconstitutional, but that still got him impeached.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"Even if it wasn't unconstitutional it was still wrong. Bill Clinton getting a blowjob wasn't unconstitutional, but that still got him impeached."

Was it even wrong?

The city was gathering information on a large event that was planned intentionally to exlude the involvement of local government... There could be potential safety or legal issues therefore involved.

On the other hand, if the Mayor was using the police to infiltrate the meetings of a political opponent to somehow sabotage them, that'd be rather different.

Intent is what's being discussed....

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I have yet to hear an argument explaining how this was illegal? Can someone please tell me how police coming to listen to a meeting for a public parade is illegal?

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Did the police actually disrupt the parade? It does not appear so. Perhaps, also, if the organizers of the parade had invited the police to the meeting -- treating them as partners rather than as enemies -- this all could have been avoided. Yes, the police have the responsibility to obey the law, but don't the organizers have ANY responsibilities to the city and the people charged with running it? Why is the argument so one-side?

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

That is a fine question that I hope someone here can answer.

Anybody making apologies for SCPD is a fool

SCPD was way out of line and needs to be held accountable. The fools who say "oh don't worry it's no big deal" are people who would give away every last bit of freedom we have for the bullshit promise of security that will not be given.

The cops are in the business of protecting the status quo not justice.

This case smacks of Stalinist Russia.

This was an illegal attack on free speech

Nick and Oscar still don't get it.

This was an illegal attack on free speech. And yes, the event was disrupted by the fact that a force who were hostile to the purposes of the event were caught representing themselves as event organizers. This is a classic strategy used by the U.S. government to disrupt and discredit the left and a major disruption.

As I've already explained elsewhere:

The SCPD have violated the First Amendment Constitutional rights of the people of Santa Cruz through an illegal covert operation at taxpayers’ expense.

These kinds of covert operations are illegal. They were banned by the Senate in the 1970s due to public outrage about COINTELPRO and Watergate. In the 1980s the Socialist Workers Party sued the FBI for millions of dollars for their covert activities against the SWP.

The Patriot Act, however, does subvert these freedoms from government spying and harassment. It would be interesting if the City Government tried to use the Patriot Act to defend their activities subverting democratic rights here in Santa Cruz since the City Council has also passed a resolution saying they are opposed to that same act.

Politically the City Government will have a hard time using the Patriot Act to defend their actions. In addition I think that a very good legal and political argument can be made that the Patriot Act itself is illegal in that it violates various constitutional rights including the First Amendment.

At this meeting the police were a hostile presence and their suggestions were not meant to be helpful.

Undercover police agents have a long history of this kind of disruption of political movements in this country. One of the most common forms of disruption is attempting to get the movement to do something stupid or illegal that can then be used to discredit the movement or arrest movement members or both. Another common strategy of police agents is to work to divide and disrupt the movement in ways that hurt the ability of the movement to organize.

In addition the FBI has used information gathered through infiltrations to get people fired from their jobs, burglarize and assault activists in their homes and offices, and even to murder targeted activists.

The infiltration of legal political activities by government agencies is an intolerable violation of the law under the First Amendment of the Constitution and will not be tolerated by the people of Santa Cruz.

The City Council is directly responsible for these acts by allowing years of violations of civil liberties by the police department and the City Manager. Some of these council members have been on the City Council for decades and have been the chief spokespeople in white washing and attempting to justify political repression and other police abuses.

Likewise the newer council members have refused to take the basic steps necessary against the Chief of Police and the City Manager to correct an ongoing problem.

While we demand that the City Council take the steps necessary, including firing City Manager Dick Wilson and Deputy Chief Vogel we must also hold the feet of City Council members to the fire. As the boss of the Santa Cruz police and city bureaucracy they are responsible for a police department, city manager, and city law office that are all immersed in a culture of anti-leftist repression.

How City Council members deal with this will be up to them. To the extent members of the City Council make moves to correct this problem they may be seen as heroes to the public. On the other hand they can choose to do nothing and then this will be just another repeat of the past. A repeat where the City Council either justifies and defends police misconduct, pretends it didn't happen, or does too little to correct it, once more encouraging more abuses to take place in the future.

Keep your eyes on Cynthia Mathews, Tony Madrigal, Mike Rotkin, Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, Ryan Coonerty, and Emily Reilly and hold them responsible for what they do or don’t do. Hold their feet to the fire, it is the only way to either get them hopping towards justice or getting rid of them.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"This was an illegal attack on free speech. "

Indeed? Who was prevented from speaking freely?..

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

"At this meeting the police were a hostile presence and their suggestions were not meant to be helpful."

Indeed? But Rico, a person who appears to have actually been there seemed to say rather the opposite. While I don't think he approved of their covert presence, he said they weren't disruptful and actually made a helpful comment regarding the inclusion of the Surfrider Foundation (if I recall correctly).

Were you at the meeting as well, and can provide evidence of hostile behavior?

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

If you think that this looks like "Stalinist Russia" I think you should take a trip to a Stalinist country and see for yourself.

And all of the charges Steven used are but assumptions and generalizations. The facts still remain; the police did not break up the gathering or disturb it. We as a community, have a right to make sure events held on public ground are safe and follow the law. I still don’t understand why it would have been such a big deal to just go through the proper channels to host this event. Is this group above the law that we all must follow for our mutual safety.

If the police would have arrested everyone at the meeting, I would understand the outcry. But as it stands, the SCPD did nothing wrong.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

To clarify, the undercover police were not helpful. In fact, they made important commitments that they did not keep. Among other things, they told us that the Surfrider Foundation was "definitely interested" in serving as the parade's "sweeping tail," a portion of the parade that was to sweep up after itself. And naturally, everything they said was bullshit intended to cover their identities. The surfrider foundation had made no such committment. So when we discovered their identities, we had to make other arrangements last-minute to clean up after ourselves.

They also helped set the time, date, and place of the following meeting so it was convenient for them. This had the possibility of excluding others who couldn't make it at that time.

If we are talking about intention, I understand the intention of the police was to merely find out information about an unknown event that they considered a potential threat.

But if we consider effect, the undercover infiltration resulted in a chilling of free speech and free assembly, a nervousness on the part of anyone considering hosting a public meeting in their home, and distrust among individuals working together in the community.

But from the police point of view, it has set them back years in terms of community relations. The community can no longer trust their police not to invade their homes, infiltrate their peaceful meetings, and monitor the activities of political groups.

Regarding what is legal and un-, that will no doubt be sorted out in court. Right now, we've filed and received public records requests to find out what the police discovered and discussed in their undercover investigation. I will tell you that there are over 200 pages of documents relating to their investigation of this parade. And the SCPD claims that they have NO records of investigations of ANY OTHER groups.

The police have the guns, the money, and the power. Ostensibly they work for us, but too often it seems the other way around. It is the responsibility of the people to provide a check to that power and to hold them accountable when that power is abused.

Eager to see those records

Rico--could you scan and/or post the police documents you've obtained? Thanks for the succinct and helpful description on how and why the police intervention was destructive of First Amendment rights.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

Thank you Rico for giving some information as to what went down at the meeting, rather than all the hearsay that has been floating around these parts.

I do not think that the police have lost any confidence within the community however. There is a distinct group of folks who are not going to trust or like them, and did not care for them before this event. Those folks will likely feel as if their distrust is legitimized by their presence at this event, but I think that most of us are thankful they took interest in the parade, seeing as how they avoided going through the city.

As for the undercover officers dedicating resources that they did not deliver, that is something that I see could bring around resentment, at least from the organizers of the event.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I'm glad that Oscar at least recognizes one of the many things wrong with what the SCPD did.

Rico, please e-mail me at steveoerchid (at), two attorneys that I know would like to discuss this case with you.

Re: Photos: "Just Us" Action Against SCPD Spying

I was glad to find this Website about the infiltration and spying of peace activists and even the general public as in the case of "Just Us." Bush is blatantly removing our rights and telling us right to our face. My fear is those council meetings and progressive Journalism on the Internet is not enough. We need large protests taken to the streets. The Internet is great but we are largely speaking to ourselves. People have fought hard for our rights and we must fight hard no to keep what remains and take back what we have lost. We need to organize local and national large protests. This is happening in many cities. Baltimore is having huge problems being they are close to NSA. If the news of these events remains only on progressive web sites and battles waged only in council meetings we will not win this fight. I think the people who did show up to the meetings are local heroes and I do not mean to take anything away from their hard work.

guitarandpen (at)


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