Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
May 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Dismissed

occupySANTA CRUZ > Judge dismisses charges against two activist journalists

Two more of the “Santa Cruz 11” have had all charges against them dismissed. During a half-hour hearing on Monday, May 14, Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick dismissed the charges of trespassing, vandalism and conspiracy against Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy, which stemmed from their alleged involvement in the November 2011 occupation of a vacant downtown bank building.

A group “standing in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz” illegally entered the building, located at 75 River St. and leased by Wells Fargo, and, over the following three days, hundreds of people visited the site. Santa Cruz police watched the scene and, in February 2012, the District Attorney charged 11 people with trespassing, vandalism and felony conspiracy.

Allen and Darocy have argued they were at the occupation as independent journalists. Local mainstream journalists also seen entering the building were not charged, including a Santa Cruz Sentinel photographer—a fact discussed by Burdick in court.

 Earlier this month, charges were dismissed against four co-defendants: Franklin Alcantara, Cameron Larendau, Edward Rector and Grant Wilson. Assistant District Attorney Rebekah Young, heading the prosecution, told GT that charges have already been re-filed against Larendau and Alcantara.

As Burdick announced the dismissal, Allen threw his hands into the air for a moment, relieved by the outcome. “I think I should be compensated for the time, money and stress,” Allen tells GT. “It’s been a clear violation of my civil rights.”

In an email to GT, Allen’s attorney Ben Rice writes, “The DA needed to prove that Bradley and Alex were conspiring with others to trespass and do vandalism. There was no ‘direct’ evidence ... so the argument was that they were the ‘media arm’ of people who did conspire. The DA claimed they ‘aided and abetted’ by publishing photos of the occupation.”

ADA Young—herself a CNN producer from ’91 to ’97—tells GT that she respects the findings of Judge Burdick. “He had clearly done his homework,” she says, adding, “They want to make it some first amendment issue and it’s not ... Facts can sometimes be open to multiple takes. I didn’t think so in this case, but I’m not the judge.”

PREEMPTIVE STRIKE?

Allen posted photos he took of the vacant building occupation on the website Indybay.org and on his own website, alongside galleries of photos from other local marches, rallies and events. Indybay is a coalition of independent Bay Area journalists. Allen says he was surprised to discover in December that three of his photos had been re-posted by the Santa Cruz Police Department.

“SCPD put a post on their blog, [that said] ‘These photos were taken by Bradley Stuart inside the bank,’ and ‘Please help us identify the people in these photos,’” says Allen. “They mentioned me by name but not where the photos had been taken from—Indybay.org. The same day they did another post, [saying] ‘These photos were taken from The Sentinel and Patch,’ and didn’t mention the photographers names. The whole case against me was that I’m not a legit[imate] journalist.”

Allen recalls Judge Burdick pointing this discrepancy out in the courtroom: “The judge said if someone is guilty from being inside the building and reporting, then why are only the Indybay reporters charged?”

Allen and Darocy’s case was bolstered by a brief submitted to the court by the ACLU of Northern California.

Allen believes the District Attorney and police targeted activists and independent journalists. “It was done to cause division in the community,” Allen says. “It seems like a tactic used around the world of preemptively detaining people and unlawfully charging people.”

SIX DOWN, FIVE TO GO?

Five additional people face charges in the building occupation and are scheduled to appear in court on May 29: Brent Adams, Desiree Foster, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, Becky Johnson and Robert Norse.

“I empathize with the people still going to court,” Allen says. “I understand what it’s like to be facing two felonies and two misdemeanors. Now I’ve had two days without that hanging over me. It feels a lot better.

“I don’t want people to think that justice was served in my case,” he continues. “I don’t want people to think, ‘You went before a judge, the judge was fair, the charges were dismissed, everything’s cool.’ It’s not cool.”

PHOTO: BRADLEY STUART/INDYBAY

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by John Colby, May 26, 2012
The ACLU brief and the motions to dismiss by Allen and Darocy's attorneys show DA Bob Lee's case was petty. He was persecuting them, not prosecuting them, to serve a personal agenda. He abused his authority under color of law to deprive them of their civil rights.

They should file complaints with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. DA Bob Lee must be held accountable with civil and criminal penalties to protect other journalists from being persecuted by overzealous prosecutors.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival