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Capitola 13 arraignment set for Wed., April 23rd 8 AM

The Capitola 13 have scheduled a press conference at 8AM on Wednesday, April 23rd outside the Santa Cruz County Courthouse, 701 Ocean St. These defendants deliberately chose to blockade the Capitola military recruiting center the day after the bombs started for fall in Iraq. Their arraignment on charges of tresspassing and illegal gathering will follow the press conference.
Santa Cruz, Ca. --- On Wednesday, April 23rd, the Capitola 13 will hold a press conference/rally at 8AM outside of the Santa Cruz County Courthouse prior to their arraignment on tresspassing and illegal gathering charges. The thirteen anti-war activists, Nan Beltran, Linda Crouse, Sharon Delgado, Alan Fisher, Cary Friendman, Lesley Reid Harrison, Nina Hyatt, Joyce McLean, Perri MacLaurin, Neil Mick, Robert Norse, Sherri Paris, and Howard Schneider chose to deliberately blockade the Capitola military recruiting center the day after the bombs began to fall in Iraq. Although the activists were completely non-violent and did not resist arrest, the Capitola police showed up in force and in full riot gear to take the activists into custody.

The Santa Cruz County Courthouse is located at 701 Ocean St. Santa Cruz, Ca. Listen for updates at FRSC 96.3FM
 
 


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Capitola 13 Speak and Sing!

Occupation of Iraq opponents showed up at the courthouse. When they got a song-and-dance from the D.A., they moved upstairs to serenade him until he came out to provide police reports, answer questions, and hear complaints.
The Capitola 13 had a well-attended press conference on the steps of the Courthouse yesterday (Wednesday April 23rd). I believe twelve of us spoke, as well as issuing a joint statement urging the immediate removal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The Sentinel, the Good Times, one tv station, and Free Radio Santa Cruz were there.

At least 5 or 6 attorneys showed up as well including Ed Frey, Paul Sanford, Jake Eschen, a man from out of town (much thanks) whose name I don't recall, and probably a number of others. Other attorneys were on call to be present at the arraignment.

There was no arraignment. Though fifty or more people showed up, many skipping work, getting child-care, etc., D.A. Bob Lee's office did not even have us on the calendar for that morning. Nor had they taken the courtesy to inform us the day before, as is customary when requests are made. I called in twice on Tuesday and got no reply.

The group was originally charged with 602.1a, a "trespass with intent to interfere with a business." Since we hadn't interfered with the business, except using an area open to the public for legitimate political protest, this charge wouldn't stand up. Also 602.1a is a misdemeanor, which allows a jury trial and an appointed public defender. With 13 of us planning not guilty pleas, this would create quite a circus in the courtroom, especially since some of us would be defending ourselves.

In response, the D.A.'s office told one of our lawyers a few days before that we would be charged with a lesser infraction (which does not require the court to appoint a public defender or hold a jury trial).

We were told later they hadn't been able to find the "right" infraction yet, hence none of us were on the court calendar. Nor were any of us told we weren't on the court calendar, though the D.A.'s office knew that and knew we were required to show up because we'd signed promises to appear as a condition of being released from custody.


In response to this abusive behavior by the D.A.s, an angry peaceful crowd moved up to the second floor in front of the D.A.'s office and requested to speak to Lee or some other responsible D.A. We were told to wait. In response, we sat down (20 or 30 of us) on the floor of the D.A.'s reception area (there weren't enough chairs).

We spoke about the war, largely ignoring warnings that were not to speak above whispers, that we were 'interfering with business' etc. We sang traditional songs like "we shall overcome" and "if I had a hammer".

After half an hour or so, two SCPD officers announced we were "blocking the elevators", "a fire hazard", etc. An attorney, ill-advisedly acting as D.A. mouthpiece, made various announcements that we might want to move. Finally a group did move over to the side, though some stayed singing in the hallway near the D.A.'s office receptionist, leaving a path for folks to go to and fro (as we had before).

Finally Bob Lee came out and showered us with "explanations" that his office had been very busy, many of his staff had been sick, it was quite customary to waste defendants' time by having them come on down and wait, and then be told to come back on a date uncertain.

We and our supporters were not satisfied with this answer. Sharp questioning from the group finally persuaded Lee to release the police reports, make copies and distribute them himself, and promise that we'd by Friday or next Monday we'd be informed of the new court date (unless they decided to drop charges altogether).

A smaller group of us then went up to Rep. Sam Farr's office to demand he publicly call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, an end to the use of depleted uranium weapons, and some action to impeach or indict Bush (as well as other concerns). Farr's representative, Rachel Dann, was alone in the office and said she'd get an answer from Farr about whether he would call for the withdrawal of troops and whether he still opposed the supplemental military appropriation.

He had first voted to send the supplemental to the HOuse floor, thenopposed the supplemental (after heavy pressure from some of the Capitola 13 and 8400 other constitutents) on an earlier roll-call vote, but finally not voted in a final voice vote on the floor when the final Senate-House package returned.

Barbara Lee of Berkeley, however, had also not voted on this final package, so it may be a procedural matter. Apparently with no roll-call there's some kind of fast pro forma procedure. (Lee's office, incidentally, also announced that Lee had not yet called for the withdrawal of troops--something Dennis Kucinich has repeatedly demanded).

All in all the protest and pressure were quite successful: in getting media attention and in forcing a response from the D.A. to show some minimal respect for our rights in this case.

The Capitola 13 were also most eloquent in their public statements and I encourage the group and each individual to place their statement on this website.

Santa Cruz City Council Mayor Emily Reilly called me yesterday to explain the reason she had not returned phone calls about why the anti-war resolution of April 22 was removed from the Council again. Her "message-arrived" blinking phone light, she explained, had burned out.

Reilly's explanation as to why the Kennedy-Porter resolutions were again delayed (fourth delay, if you count March 19th, April 7th, April 8th, and now April 22nd) were unclear and vague. Except that Kennedy and Porter had withdrawn them.

Phone numbers to contact these people and request some answers: D.A. Lee: 454-2400, Reilly: 420-5022, Porter: 420-5024, Kennedy: 420-5020, Farr: 429-1976, and Capitola 13: 423-4833.

The more heat and guidance they receive, the sooner those troops will be out of Iraq (or at least the clearer our local voices and those of our representatives will be).
 

Personal Account not a Group Statement of the Capitola 13

The account of the Capitola 13 Press Conference and D.A.'s Office Serenade above is my own and may or may not agree with the experience of others in the group. It is not a group statement.
I believe it to be accurate and to the point.
 

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