Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 17th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Wake-up Call

news_crimeCommunity addresses recent crimes, struggles to cope

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 21, Santa Cruz Police Department officers addressed a packed auditorium at Santa Cruz High School. The meeting, filled mainly with Santa Cruz High parents and their children, was intended to educate the public about gangs in the wake of the death of Tyler Tenorio, 16, who was stabbed on Oct. 16 on Laurel Street near Chestnut Street, during an apparent argument between the boy and his friends and a group of gang members. On Oct. 19, Daniel Onesto, 19, was taken into custody and charged with murder, gang enhancement, and assault with a deadly weapon; police have also issued an arrest warrant for Paulo Luna, 23, and are seeking one for a third man, whose name was not publicly available at the time of print. The incident followed the rape and beating of a 69-year-old woman in her home on the Westside the Wednesday before. The last two months have also seen four reports of sexual battery in the downtown area. All of these sexual assault cases remain unsolved.

This cluster of violent acts has drawn heavy publicity and revived a perennial debate about safety in the city. Law enforcement and city leaders are struggling to quell fears that Santa Cruz as a whole, and the downtown area specifically, has become unsafe and that gang violence here is spiraling out of control. Parents at the forum expressed frustration that the city isn’t doing more to prevent gang activity and asked how they can help their children avoid conflicts with gang members; others, like local mother Lisa Castellanos, also articulated fears that Latino youths like her two teenage sons will be targets of racial profiling.


“You don’t want to believe these types of things could happen in Santa Cruz. But these are relatively uncommon types of cases.
That’s why you get such a large response.” —Zach Friend, SCPD spokesperson

Police spokesman Zach Friend says that despite these incidents, Santa Cruz is “a relatively peaceful community,” with crime statistics consistently trending downwards—a claim borne from actual offense numbers available on the Santa Cruz Police Department website, which show that overall crime has steadily dropped between 2003 and 2009, though this year has seen a slight rise in both theft and sexual assault.

Kristie Clemens, director of Domestic Violence Services at Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, has a theory about that rise: “Theft—the economy is bad and people feel out of control and are desperate,” she says. “And sexual violence—rape—isn’t about one’s expression of sexuality. It’s about control and power and dominating another person. And when some people feel out of control in their lives, they seek to dominate others to reassert their power.”

Friend says the community’s outrage at these attacks is understandable. “You have a young kid murdered by gang members and a 69-year-old woman savagely attacked in her own home,” he says. “Who wouldn’t react with anger, frustration, disbelief, and sorrow? You don’t want to believe these types of things could happen in Santa Cruz. But these are relatively uncommon types of cases. That’s why you get such a large response.”

However, he adds that even though there has been a statistical drop in crime, there is a very real perception that it has been increasing.  “Perception becomes reality for people,” he says. “It’s just as important for us to address perception issues as to address actual increases.”

Nane Alejandrez, executive director of anti-gang violence organization Barrios Unidos, worries that the debate following Tenorio’s death will be another wasted opportunity to effect real change. “This is not the first time this has happened,” he says. “And we keep putting our heads in the sand and not dealing with the real issues that are affecting our community.”

While he also doesn’t believe Santa Cruz is becoming less safe overall, he says that a lack of effective drug treatment programs and rehabilitative efforts for people getting out of prison creates a cycle of violence. He also says that law enforcement has long placed an emphasis on suppression rather than prevention, which doesn’t address the root causes of gang violence: poverty, drug addiction, and a lack of opportunities and education for underprivileged youth. But he tries to remain optimistic. “I’m always hopeful,” he says. “I wouldn’t be doing this work if I didn’t believe.”

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz locals like Veronica Garrett, 35, who lives and works near downtown, struggle with how to interpret these recent events. “I feel frustrated,” Garrett says. “And I feel much more in danger. This feels like an intrusion. It doesn’t feel like an organic part of Santa Cruz. This is my home. I love it here and I want it to be safe. But I just don’t know how to change the rest of humanity.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.