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County protests march on

County protests march on


March 11, 2003
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ -- Peace protesters and homeless activists plunked themselves in front of the downtown O’Neill surf shop Friday. Four days later, they haven’t budged.
Police have not tried to roust the group, whose members are there day and night in rotating shifts, and vow to stay at Pacific Avenue and Cooper Street indefinitely.
A few protesters are familiar to anyone who’s ever braved the oral communications portion of a Santa Cruz City Council meeting: Robert Norse, Becky Johnson, Steve Argue, James Cosner.
Johnson, one of the organizers, said the protest is about a potential U.S. war on Iraq and a “war on the poor” in Santa Cruz including a camping ban and downtown rules increasing space restrictions on panhandlers.
Others are low profile, willing to sit 10 hours at a time at the tables.
Gabe Brugger, 17, a Harbor High School student, said most passersby are “indifferent or semi-supportive. Very few people are super energetic. The occasional drunk and belligerent person swears at us.”
T.J., 21, a homeless man who moved to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles in December, had been staying up 40 hours straight as part of the protest, without the benefit of coffee.
“I believe in this cause,” he said.
The group mostly uses the bathrooms at the Locust Street garage.
Lt. Joe Haebe said the gathering has been peaceful.
“We are not going to engage in street theater,” he said. “They know the laws as well as we do and if they want to purposely cross the threshold, we’ll take appropriate measures. As it stands now they are complying.”
Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker said someone complained to police about the group blocking the sidewalk.
He also said there was some concern about the size of the group about 12 people on Monday around 1 p.m. He said he was “waiting for direction.”
Chad Rappe, an O’Neill employee, said there have been no major problems.
Also in Santa Cruz, protesters will kick off a “Schools Not Bombs War Tax Resistance Campaign,” urging nonpayment of a portion of federal taxes “and instead re-directing those funds to critical social needs such as public schools.”
The group plans to meet at noon today at the steps of the Santa Cruz County Courthouse and proceed to the Water Street IRS office.
Protesters say their action, in part, is a response to then-U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s 1982 statements that protesters can march all they want as long as they continue to pay taxes.
Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Scott Kennedy isn’t among the organizers but said he’ll show up to the protest. Kennedy has been withholding a portion of his taxes, and facing the consequences, since 1971.
“In the end they charge you interest and penalties,” he said. “We’ve had our bank account seized. My wife and I have had our salary seized.”
In Capitola, Santa Cruz Peacemakers, from the Resource Center for Nonviolence, have rallied in front of the military recruiting center on 41st Avenue at Clares Street.
While about 100 staged a nonviolent demonstration Wednesday, and gave cause for the four military branches there to close their doors, numbers have dwindled since then. About 12 people reportedly walked the picket line Friday.
Still, military recruiting officials say protests are not hindering their operations.
“We are going on with business as usual,” said Army Capt. Barbara Streater. “The protests actually sparked conversation. We have seen an increase of people wanting to talk about politics and the Army in general.”
The number of people seeking to enlist has remained the same, she said.
Last Wednesday’s action caused the Capitola Police, California Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Office to spend $20,000 combined, some of it overtime pay, to man the event, said Lt. Mike Card of Capitola.
No arrests were made in any of the protests.
Staff Writer Ramona Turner contributed to this story
Contact Dan White at dwhite (at)


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