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Riot Squad Arrests Protestors at Recruiting Offices

Riot Squad Arrests Protestors at Recruiting Offices


by Michael Thomas

After two weeks of protests at the local military recruiting offices resulting in the intermittent closure of four federal offices some of the persistent protestors got what they wanted a trip to the County’s jail.
The County Sheriffs riot squad was called out on Friday morning, Mar. 21, to disperse and arrest protestors blocking the entrances to military recruiting offices at 2121 41st Avenue in Capitola.
The previous day, the group staged a demonstration in front of the building to protest the start of a US invasion of Iraq. On the second morning of the vigil, protestors arrived before the offices opened and locked arms in front of recruiting offices.
Thirteen persons were taken into custody, including staffers from the Resource Center for Nonviolence, which orchestrated the act of civil disobedience. According to Sgt. Todd Mayer of the Capitola Police Department, about half of the group dispersed peacefully when he warned them that they were about to be arrested.
When organizer Sharon Delgado was being arrested in front of the Armys doorway, she asked “is it okay if we keep singing?”
Those arrested were held for only a few hours. Court appearances were scheduled for Apr. 23, and the 13 protestors were released.
According to Capitola Police Sgt. Matthew Eller, they were charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is one year in a county jail and/ or a fine of $1,000.
Some protestors had been asking to be arrested almost from the start of the peaceful protests.
“They were intent on being arrested,” said Todd Matthews, who manages the property and asked police to remove the protestors.
Demonstrations had taken place in and around the building during previous weeks, and recruiting staff voluntarily closed their doors on several occasions. In one instance, Air Force personnel forced their way through a blocked doorway.
Although Capitola Police officers were almost always present, the recruiting staff and building management hadnt asked that any arrests be made. A supreme court interpretation of the right to assemble in public has likened malls and large office complexes to town centers and maintained the publics right to demonstrate in such facilities, within limits.
“Theyre free to express themselves out on the street,” said Matthews.
Capitola Police have been present on occasion in force during the protests. Maintaining the extra security at the building has cost the City as much as $35,000, according to Capitola Police Chief Rick Ehle.
The building is home to Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines recruiting offices. Army banners in the central courtyard tout $20,000 signing bonuses and cash for college.
Numerous other commercial businesses are located on the property, including the offices of the Post.

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