Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Santa Cruz Clean Team attacks homeless, censors internet of evidence

Defend those without homes! campaign page [link]
Santa Cruz is attacking houseless people [link]

2013-05-16 "Video Exposing Abuse of the Homeless Suppressed"
 by Robert Norse:
 A video of a Clean Team activist, supported by other Clean Team members, harassing, assaulting, and battering a homeless camper was posted for several days on a SC Patch article ("Fever Pitch - Interview with SC Clean Team founder TJ Magallanes" at []).
 Under what he described as intense pressure and threats, the author removed the video, both from the SC Patch website and from You-Tube. Brad Kava, the local SC Patch manager, says that all the original comments (more than 75, some estimate) were eliminated through a technical glitch. I was able to save some and have restored what I could in the article below.
 Both the video and its subsequent censorship under hostile pressure from supporters of Take Back Santa Cruz [TBSC] and The Clean Team [ TCT] is an important indication of the crypto-fascist devolution in Santa Cruz under the phony "Public Safety", "Environmental Protection", and (most shrilly) "Needle Menace" labels.
 City Staff, the SCPD, and the City Council have in recent years supported and intensified anti-homeless laws and policies such as the Sleeping Ban, the Sitting Ban, the Panhandling Ban, etc. and is currently considering repressive measures. These include monitoring of the pathetically limited services of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, new Stay-Away-Before-You're-Even-Charged orders in the parks, triple fine zones on the parks and beaches,
 Additionally armed goon squads (First Alarm, Panther Patrol, SCPD, Hosts, Rangers) abusively patrol the downtown area massively responding to and/or false citing "crimes" like sitting next to a vacant building, displaying jewelry, jaywalking, smoking, and walking along Pacific Avenue in violation of an anti-homeless "Stay Away" order. Most recently homeless people with companion dogs that they regard as service animals are being cited if a person is on the street after dark.
 SCPD assailant Nathan Vasquez, who maliciously or incompetently dropped Richard Hardy face down onto the sidewalk, sending him to Dominican Hospital is still reportedly on the job. Attempts to file either assault charges and Internal Affairs/Professional Standards compllaints against him have been rejected by the SCPD.
 In the last several months there have been more ominous incidents. Gabriel and Sam-I-Am reported group "get out of town" physical assaults.
 Official harassment and stereotyping is also on the rise.Steve reports being told when he walked into a shoe shop to ask about buying a pair of shoes "you can't use our restroom". Deputy Chief Clark was observed harassing and driving away a homeless man from Starbucks.
 With the TBSC-orchestrated destruction of accessible Needle Exchange in the City, the stage is set not merely for a greater health hazard (more costly to everyone) and more improperly distributed needles, but following that, another wave of Needle Hysteria--created by the very shut-down.
 Meanwhile a TBSC-cowed City Council moves to Keep Santa Cruz Scared with a Public Safety Citizen's Task Force, stacked with right-wing homeless-hostile types who are sedulously following SCPD Clark's ridiculous claims that homeless "crime" is taking up 41% of the calls. The "crimes" have been created by laws pushed by the SCPD criminalizing homeless people in public downtown, in the parks and Pogonip or on the levy, around the library, politically protesting the measures at City Hall, and through the "predictive policing" auto-generated police activity. Non-criminal activity like drinking a beer or sleeping at night is a "crime" in public spaces.
 Peeing and pooing are also crimes--even though the city adamantly refuses to open 24-hour bathrooms.  The War on Marijuana and Drug Users impacts homeless people as its first victims. TBSC takes credit for blocking a recent Medical Marijuana dispensary application in Harvey West) is being dialed up with homeless people its first victims. Meanwhile there is virtually no emergency shelter nor drug rehab programs. And, of course, no affordable housing or living wage employment.
 Meanwhile Take Back Santa Cruz and The Clean Team rage, but more important, the Santa Cruz City Manager, Council, and Police pretend that they are "managing" a "Public Safety" crisis, while what they are actually doing is stirring up hate crimes against the poor and engaging in systematic and "legalized" human rights violations.
 When a video appeared documenting this, it was denounced and suppressed.

2013-05-15 "Video of Take Back Santa Cruz-supported Clean Team Harassing Homeless Forced Off Internet"
 by Robert Norse:
 A week ago, writer Jeremy Leonard posted a video with faces disguised of a member of the Clean Team threatening and harassing a homeless camper as he and others did one of their regular "clean-up's". The video was only up very briefly before it was taken down. A few days ago it reappeared as part of a long interview Leonard did with former Clean Team founder T.J. Magallanes. The interview--still up as of this writing--provoked dozens of comments, and reportedly numerous threats against Leonard. The entire thread was removed as well as the video. I saved some of the thread and reprint it here.
 The interview with T.J. at this writing can still be found at [].
 I shall attempt to repost it, if it too disappears. In all fairness, SC Patch writer (and frequent SCPD groupie) Brad Kava has explained there was a broad technical problem that resulted in both the removal of the video and all the comments.
 Subsequently Leonard wrote me that he also took down the video from You-Tube because, even with faces and voices disguised, he was getting too many threats.
 I will be playing a phone interview I had with T.J. Magallanes on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.3 FM (streams at tomorrow (Thursday May 16) at 6:30 PM. I invite listeners to call in at 831-427-3772.
 The interview will archive at [] about half an hour into the audio file.
 The recent Sentinel, SCPD, and City Council hyperfocus on the Collins, Baker, and Butler killings--freak incidents which provoked rage and grief (while the deaths of many homeless and poor people go unnoticed or vilified)--seems to me part of a political campaign to Take Over Santa Cruz with an old and repulsive ideology. It's the same story, dripping with venom that the Downtown Association, the Mathews-Coonerty crowd, and now the ascendant Bryant-Terrazas-Robinson-Comstock coalition is spewing.
 Ramp up the drug war, hire more cops and security guards, declare more areas off-limits to everyone (since just targeting homeless would be unconstitutional and give away the game), cut off homeless services, encourage public hostility to homeless and transient people, encourage a "snitch system" to spread terror among the poor and drive them out of town. Scream "needles, needles, needles" and terrorize residents into supporting deeper police state measures to "monitor" the poor. Along the way, shut down needle exchange, marijuana distribution centers, and other classic right-wing targets.

 I saved as many of the comments as I could--none before the one I made (which I wasn't able to save). They include comments by both supporters of TBSC and TCT as well as critics. The real issue isn't those organizations per se, but the question of whether the "clean up" activity is really a mask for "cleaning out" a class of people in Santa Cruz that are being demonized as a "Public Safety" hazard.
 What's really shown here is how far TBSC and TCT supporters will go to preserve the image of their group as a nice family-friendly group with no nasty prejudices or agenda. The suppressed video, which I'm still hoping will reappear, shows how hollow these claims are. The speed with which the video was suppressed is ominous.
 Much of the thread may be repetitive but I wanted to put as much of it up as I could save.
 I was able to post some of the times of some of the comments. Some comments are still up, not the earlier ones or the video.
 Deb: "i will try again . . .i do not know tj and don't know the merit of his allegations. his ideas can certainly be debated. what is interesting to me, are the lack of responses about what takes place in the video. i think that says a lot." 11:33 5-14
 Jeremy Leonard: "Thank you for your comment, Deb. I have been interviewing homeless people in town for the past couple of months on and off, and just yesterday I interviewed a guy that is living in his car. I bought him a coffee at Pergolese, and let him talk. He said that he is feeling more pressure, and knows several other people that have gotten beaten up recently. It's my fear that if we allow even veiled anti-homeless dialog to persist, then we aren't really making Santa Cruz a safer place. I wasn't targeting any one group with my opening paragraphs on groupthink per se, it was just general commentary on human nature. We should be mindful of what we say, because as we see in the vid, good people can be lured into following a "leader's" ti good or bad. I disguised the voices and speakers, because my goal is not to throw anyone under the bus, it's to just make people think before they act. The guy in the sleeping bag deserved none of that." 11:49 5-14
 Paul: "Pretty funny- you didn't see it because it was deleted :) I remember these events specifically. I, myself, was silently kicked out of the group in under 3 minutes for making one positive comment about HSC and saying that the biggest problem was that there was no treatment available for the population that needs it the most. Nothing rude or cobfrontational, just what I thought was a good point to bring up. For groups that are so vigilantly moderated around the clock, it's ridiculous to hear them say they're not responsible for all the comments. That may be technically correct, but every admin is responsible for leaving all the hateful and incendiary comments up and at the same time deleting the ones they don't personally agree with." 12:03 5-14
 Paul: "Basically everyone that has listened to either group knows that the behavior in the video is exactly what is being cultivated by both groups. They just got caught with their pants down. Santa Cruz can do better than this." 12:10 5-14

 The article continues at some length at: []
 "Further Postings Are Also Happening at SC Patch" by Robert Norse:
 Go to for the latest postings on the remains of the postings of Jeremy Leonard's article. There's still some arriving commentary on that website for those interested.
 I would encourage caring members of TBSC and TCT--or any who go on their sweeps--to carry video and document what goes on in the Clean-up's around homeless camps--to either rein in abusive behavior such as was pictured on the censored video or to demonstrate these groups have changed their approach and aren't harassing homeless people or tolerating such.
 I've heard multiple accounts of people claiming TBSC videoing "illegal camper" people in their vehicles. I myself had to deal with the owner of the Bike Dojo videoing me as he raged at me as I tried to video a police stop a week or so ago downtown outside the Silver Shop.
 As can be seen from the frantic defensive reactions of TBSC/TCT supporters in response to Jeremy's video, video is a powerful witness. It actually produced some (brief) headlines in the Sentinel around Officer Nathan Vasquez's stomach-turning abuse of Richard Hardy (see ).
 "Untold Story" by Robert Norse:
 The deeper more deadly story of the involvement of Lynn Robinson, Pamela Comstock, City Manager Martin Bernal, the City Council's "Public Safety Committee", and various County officials in backroom "negotiations" with TBSC and TCT has not been told.
 Former Clean Team member and founder T.J. Magallanes referred to the backroom meetings in November and December that preceded the quick and dirty shutdown of Needle Exchange in the City in his Free Radio interview of 5-16 at . That interview is about an hour and a quarter into the audio file (not half an hour into it, as I'd originally thought and posted above). Did these private meetings with hate groups replace any meaningful public discussion? I'm afraid the answer may be yes, but the documentation needs to be provided.
 This contrary-to-common-sense shutdown may simply be, in part, a political feather in the cap of TBSC and TCT, which also has the effect of producing MORE improper needle disposal since the exchange-and-disposal services are now significantly less accessible and more burdensome. Which will also throw more fuel on the concocted "Public Safety" fire.

 Another broader untold part of the story is the involvement of right-wing groups like the Santa Cruz Neighbors, the Downtown Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the reactionary City Council majority in using TBSC and TCT as electoral tools to stack the City Council and City Council Committees and Commissions with homeless-hostile pro-development types.
 Not that the City Council (and more fundamentally the City Council staff) for the last several decades hasn't generally ignored or aggravated the fundamental emergency shelter crisis, the outrageous rents, the unlivable wages, and the toxic UCSC growth.

 My initial reaction to criticism of the internal processes of TBSC/TCT is that it's the business of those in those groups, not so much a community matter. Many existing organizations are often non-democratic, run by a small number of old-timers, who have placed themselves in positions of power. So why criticize TBSC/TCB for following that road?
 The question of "internal democracy" in TBSC or TCT becomes more relevant when it is considered against the backdrop of the actual agendas of these groups--which masquerades as "environmental protection" and "public safety" and recruits its members with those slogans. But the policies it advocates and the villains it names are the traditional fascist targets: powerless groups like those outside, addicts (for whom no treatment is available), "liberals" (who actually aren't liberal at all on homeless issues--as seen by the mass of anti-homeless laws already in place), and a supposed "culture of tolerance" (which is far more myth than fact here in Santa Cruz).
 The harsh and monolithic internal dissent-suppression of TBSC and TCT becomes the dirty underwear which prompts the indignant outrage of its supporters when it's uncovered by the now suppressed video. The leadership of these groups has no use for real change (like an end to the Drug War, real expansion of drug recovery facilities, long-overdue public sanitation facilities and services, and the very obvious housing crisis) and when the obvious issues begin to surface in internal debates, those advocating them--like T.J. are denounced, excluded, and ultimately driven away. Try raising such issues internally on their websites, and see how long you last.

 This provides a clue to the way these groups and their elected or appointed representatives will treat the public, and especially those of strongly different views. Pamela Comstock's behavior ostentatiously ostracizing me at City Council on recent occasions when I've spoken by standing up and leaving the room, her public displays of contemptuousness at the first Task Force meeting, and her likely refusal to be interviewed for FRSC are an example of the behavior that dissenters are likely to face as a broader reflection of the dictatorial internal processes in place in TBSC and TCT.
 The closed discussions, the phony "family friendly" camouflage and public outreach, the members-only website, the backroom discussions with the SCPD, Santa Cruz Neighbors, reactionary city and county staff, and others all suggest the darkness in store for us in the months to come--using fear of the outsider, the "needle user", the "dirty homeless camper", etc. as the focus for mobilizing mob action.
 The deadly daily drumbeat of the Santa Cruz Sentinel is not unexpected, but incessant. The endless adulation and constant harkening back to the random killings of the last year (though police stats show no meaningful rise in the crime rate here) has become a profound effective and dangerous propaganda tool in the hands of those in power. The transformation of Officer Loran "Butchie" Baker from his notorious 1992 status as one accused by city agencies (such as the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women) of molesting 9 women to acclaimed hero is remarkable and profoundly misleading. Baker is the only officer I've ever successfully sued for false arrest (2002).

 And the issue that really needs to be researched are the connections between TBSC and TCT activists and the powerful institutional illiberals in power (masquerading as "progressives") who may simply be striving to use these groups to maintain and deepen their own power.
 Again I encourage those who have them to post videos, audios and written descriptions of the crackdown. When you see the poison of these groups taking root in discriminatory action by merchants, police, the library (note the new rules there), and other agencies, speak out, expose, and oppose. And spread the word about what is happening by showing the specific abuses, indignities, and human rights violations that his population is now suffering.
 As mentioned in the main article the toxic Terrazas "Public Safety" Committee is preparing some nasty expanded anti-homeless measures to sate the growing appetite of TBSC, TCT, and the many more powerful less visible interests that would like to sanitize, sterilize, and gentify the community using the current "Public Safety" hysteria as their rallying cry.
 "Final segment of T.J. Interview Archived" by Robert Norse: []

 "Santa Cruz Clean Team member prods camper with trash grabber" via "Occupy Santa Cruz Media Group": Thank you to the Occupy Santa Cruz Media Group for publishing this screen capture from the video of Santa Cruz Clean Team member Ken "SkinDog" Collins prodding a camper with a trash grabber.

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