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SCPD Disturbs the Peace

350 people wound their way through the heart of downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday Nov. 2, to demonstrate dissent towards the Bush administration's call for a unilateral attack on Iraq. The march followed a picnic-like rally in San Lorenzo Park where almost 200 citizens gathered. The day came to a bitter end with the arrest of two people, including this reporter.
With Brazilian drum troupe Sambada keeping the beat, approximately 350 people wound their way through the heart of downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday November 2, to demonstrate dissent towards the Bush administration's call for a unilateral attack on Iraq. The march followed a picnic-like rally in San Lorenzo Park where almost two-hundred citizens gathered for a sign-making party and took turns reading poetry, sharing song, and speaking freely from an open microphone.

A number of demonstrators wore leftover Halloween costumes including one-man dressed as George Bush, complete with devil horns, pichfork and red cape. Fiona Hollins of the Iraq Action Network was came as a fairy dressed in pink. "I'm part of the women's preemptive strike for peace. We've issued a code pink alert, which means that peace and life have been threatened by our administration's plans for war, and we're calling on women and men from all over to rise up and commit unprecedented acts of democracy and peace" Another couple, dressed in white jumpsuits kept a watchful eye over the crowd. Officer Stricter held a sign which bore some familiar messages. "Ignorance is strength," "Watch more TV," "Follow Blindly," "Shop," "Fly," "More Blood For Oil," "There's Nothing to Worry About," "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," "Obey Authority." The officer's companion, Nazareen Mahmad, feels the United States would serve itself better in the long run by changing its foriegn policy. "I think its sort of a long range thing. You have to stop supporting dictators for one thing. [Then] you have to stop developing weapons of mass destruction and handing them on to these dictators." Many children were also present at the rally; a stark reminder of the lost innocence faced by children all over the world as a direct result of armed conflicts.

After more than an hour the protesters made their way out of San Lorenzo Park, across the footbridge, in a march towards the downtown shopping corridor. The crowd swelled in numbers as the demonstration proceeded along Front St. "I think it's nonsense, and the United Nations is trying to find a solution," said Feza Arslan, a native of Turkey. "I believe a solution can be found." Arslan and his wife, clutching bags of groceries, joined the march as they exitted a local market. "There will be so much conflict," Arslan said, responding to a question on the effects in the Middle East if the US launches an invasion of Iraq.

Also marching was Green Party congressional candidate Ray Glock Grueniech, who aspires to unseat democrat Sam Farr on November 5. If elected, Grueneich says he would work to ensure that no country could posess weapons of mass destruction. "I support having inspections and elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Britain, France, Israel, and in the United States" Nan Beltran, of Santa Cruz Peacemakers, agrees. "I think we should have inspectors at Livermore and Los Alamos too, because we have weapons of mass destruction and we are creating more and more all the time."

A single police squad car escorted the procession up Pacific Avenue without incident. Demonstrators stopped at Pacific and Church Streets near the Cinemaplex to stage a die-in.. As the sounds of warfare were broadcast from a tape deck, a sizable number of participants fell silently to the concrete, illustrating the often unseen results of a US Air Force bombing raid.

The day came to a bitter end with the arrest of two people, including this reporter. According to witness statements, the trouble started when Officer Morey, # 190, ordered a demonstrator onto the sidewalk. Witnesses later stated that a man observing the die-in, was approached by Officer Morey and swiftly taken into custody. Upon hearing the commotion, this reporter approached the scene to investigate the situation. The unidentified man was refusing to comply with an order to sit in the vehicle Seconds later, this reporter was shoved without warning by an unidentified police sargeant, who had approached from his sqauad car parked in the intersection of Pacific and Church Streets. The two policemen used force to secure the man inside the car. As the sargeant turned back toward his car, this reporter stepped into the crosswalk and requested his name and badge number, only to be placed in handcuffs.

While the demonstrators continued the march through Santa Cruz, this reporter and the unidentified man were transported to a holding cell in the Santa Cruz Police Dept. According to organizers from the Iraq Action Network, more than fifty people rallied outside the County Jail on Water St. after police officers gave them false information regarding our whereabouts. After nearly an hour in custody, this reporter was released with a citation for resisting, obstructing, or delaying a "peace officer," and given a court date of December 4th. The misdemeanor charge carries a possible 6 month jail sentence. The other man's fate is unknown as he refused to cooperate with officers attempts to identify him.

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Witnesses Are Needed!!

If you were in the area of Wherehouse Records or the Cinemaplex on Saturday, November 2 about 4:30-4:45 pm, and witnessed my arrest, please contact vman (at) or leave a message at 427 4523.

More on the Die-In Bust

I interviewed Sergeant Jim Lunnen, the police officer who arrested this reporter shortly after the incident. Lunnen disagreed with several of the witnesses, in claiming he'd "three times" warned the reporter to "step back". Witnesses stated the reporter had stepped back. The reporter's tape indicated that Lunnen had only given one warning. The several people I spoke with seemed to confirm that the reporter was quickly grabbed, handcuffed, and put in the squadcar.

Sgt. Lunnen spoke in an agitated fashon and several times interrupted other witnesses as they gave their accounts, insisting he had acted properly. I played this account on Free Radio last Sunday (as well as that of the other witnesses).

The reason or pretext used to arrest the two had to do with the alleged need to drive an emergency vehicle through the blocked off area along Pacific. But, according to reports I heard afterward, the crowd was not cleared from the street, other than a warning or two and the one man arrested for standing in the gutter.

Martin, who was present when the warning was given on a "recumbent" bicycle (where the operator lies down to operate it), reported the warning was given in an abrupt rude and peremptory fashion without any explanation through a squadcar loudspeaker. No attempt was made to bring the emergency vehicle up or down Pacific avenue past the Cinema 9 theater, where the crowd was in the street.

I had informed one of the parade organizers, Joe Williams, some minutes earlier that a man had collapsed and was awaiting emergency services in front of Costa Brava. Williams assured me that the crowd would co-operate with any such situation. According to witness, Jim Ross, that situation was taken care of without requiring any movement from the street.

If anyone wishes to hear the taped testimony of the witnesses, they can contact me at 423-4833. I also do a radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3 FM) Thursdays 6-8 PM and Sundays 10 AM -1:30 PM. I invite any witnesses or commentary about this incident (live call in: 427-3772)

Stop Police Repression Now!

This is one in a long line of incidents showing the intolerance of the Santa Cruz Police towards constitutionally protected free speech activities. This intolerance is encouraged by a city council that does not try to stop these police abuses, despite the fact that they pass resolutions opposing US wars. Those resolutions are meaningless when these same politicians support repressive measures against anti-war dissidents right here Santa Cruz.

Thomas Leavitt and Steve Argue on City Council would work to stop these police abuses by firing Police Chief Steve Belcher and standing up for the rights of activists for social justice.




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