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Dec 19th
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From the Editor

altPlus Letters to the Editor

 
Brace yourself: the week ahead in Santa Cruz County is full of activities. 
Leading the pack is National Dance Week, overseen by Santa Cruz Dance.
Locals who have experienced this festive week of dance-related activities—from live performances in all places visible and unlikely to a slew of classes offered—already realize the scope of its creative reach. So, be sure to check out this week’s insert, where you will find the Dance Week program. See you on the streets of Santa Cruz and beyond, where all the magic unfolds. (Quick note: kudos to Motion at the Mill for a memorable performance offering last week.)
 
Elsewhere, the Museum of Art & History continues to wow us with its Third Friday events. This month’s theme: Love Fest (April 20). It promises to be a powerful event with community interaction among all the notable artwork in a lavish art show. Former Cruzans Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, known for their envelope-pushing performance art weddings, have erected a chapel on the museum’s second floor, so you can expect some locals to renew their own vows. 
 
Actually ... I was asked by MAH to consider partaking in Love Fest. They asked me to renew my own vows—to myself. Seven years ago, I, too, had a quasi-performance art event. In an effort to see what it felt like to pour all the attention you would bestow on a partner or spouse ... but on yourself ... I conducted a “self-dating” experiment. I enjoyed all the attention—nothing like sending yourself thank you/love notes—so much, I decided to marry myself. (In a cessna above the bay.) Memorable, to say the least. All that to say ... I’ll be on hand for the “fest.” See you there on Friday, April 20. Learn more about the event. 
 
How do you top love? Thrills. I’ll be writing more about this next week, but in the event you haven’t heard about Specialized Helicopters at the Watsonville Airport, maybe it’s time you did. In a collaboration with Grind Out Hunger, Specialized will donate 15 percent from various rides/tours to the local hunger-fighting machine. Not a bad trip—you get to see the Bay from an extraordinary vantage point and help combat hunger locally. Mention Grind Out Hunger when you reserve your ride. Learn more at specializedheli.com. (Tune in for more 411 next week.)
 
Thanks for reading. Have an adventurous week ...  
 
 
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
 

Letters to the Editor 

 
Reading the recent article by John Malkin (“Occupied” GT 4/12) about the prosecution of the 11 trespassers at the empty bank, I was once again struck by the appalling double standard we all seem blind to. 
 
Conspiracy is defined as two or more people coordinating a future crime. These 11 people believed they were exercising civil disobedience. Now they're facing hard federal time for "conspiracy." Don't forget about the recent ruling regarding strip searches and legislation criminalizing protest, such as HR 347, NDAA. This is political theater to show everyone who is boss. Mess with the banks? Ten years for conspiracy. Take that, conspiracy theorists! It's so delightfully ironic, if not for all the damage it will do to these eleven people's lives. Years in prison for violating an empty bank building. Right. 
 
Meanwhile, in Roswell Fl. the town council used every dirty trick in their considerable arsenal to force the "Chicken Man" to stop raising chickens. He couldn't make the mortgage because he was in jail for "violations." So now the guy who showed little kids at the elementary school how to harvest eggs is dead because he wouldn't give up his right to have chickens on his farm. 
 
These governmental employees are presumably acting according to policy. If that policy is held from public scrutiny or input, even if it is not technically secret, and that policy was in fact an attempt to violate the rights of these people, would that not indeed be a conspiracy? What do you call it when a group of people meet in secret to break the law? Conspiracy! Is there any special provision in the law that makes it legal to commit conspiracy because the conspirators are government employees? No! 
 
So why these 11 people? Why now? This group represents those from among the population who are willing to stand up to this system knowing how hard the odds are stacked against them. I'm a pretty physical guy, but I don't want to provoke the police when they have such brutal policies. Seeing these people get treated like this makes me think twice about showing up at one of these things. I believe the purpose of these prosecutions is political, and is an attempt to intimidate the local populace, especially the students, and strike fear into the hearts of anyone who would stand up to the system as they tighten the screws.
Anthony Crawley
Santa Cruz

Best Online Comments

 
Journalists even of a conservative stripe should be alarmed and angry at the behavior of the SCPD and the D.A. in this use of delayed charges to intimidate activists and reporters. 
 
As should the broader community. For police to stand by while people come and go, even allowing those who they consider "conspirators" to leave without arrest or citation-making a total of zero arrests during the entire three days—and then later come forward to arrest people at their homes, end their employment, and get them evicted—is a dark situation indeed. Sign the petition to demand these charges be dropped: thepetitionsite.com.
—Robert Norse
 
DA Bob Lee and the SCPD have overreached, trying to criminalize journalism. Since this audacious act threatens a core principle of journalism—being able to document breaking events whether they be occupations or American troops being attacked by Afghan insurgents—heavy legal hitters have a stake in this legal battle. When these cases reach the appellate level, non-local judges are going to stomp Bob Lee and the SCPD. Expect the ACLU and more renowned legal advocacy organizations to step in. 
 
Essentially DA Bob Lee's witch hunt threatens the ability of journalists to report the news. Scenario: imagine that journalists are charged with felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism when covering political protests where a small minority of individuals decide to vandalize private property. This is a dangerous precedent which could be used to inhibit journalists all over the world, from Oakland to Egypt. 
 
DA Bob Lee and the SCPD will become symbols of national scorn.
—John Colby
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