Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jun 30th
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

 

I Was a Teenage Deadhead

Memories of life on tour, plus the truth about that legendary Santa Cruz Acid Test

 

I Build a Lighted House and Therein Dwell

Wednesday, June 24, Chiron turns stationary retrograde (we turn inward) at 21.33 degrees Pisces. We usually speak of “retrograde” when referring to Mercury. But all planets retrograde. Next month in July, Venus retrogrades. What is Chiron retrograde? Chiron represents the wound within all of us. Wounds have purpose. They sensitize us; make us aware of pain and suffering. Through our wounds we develop compassion. Through compassion we become whole (holy) again. Chiron helps develop these states of consciousness. Everyone carries a wound. Everyone carries family wounds (family astrology tracks the astrological “DNA” through generations). Chiron wounds are deep within. We’re often not aware of them until Chiron retrogrades. Then the wounds (through pain, hurt, sadness, suffering) become apparent. They seem to break us open emotionally, psychologically. Painful events from the past are remembered. They are brought to the present for healing. Through experiencing, talking about and deeply feeling what is hurting us, healing takes place. We begin to understand and bring healing to others. All week, Jupiter and Venus move closer together in the sky. They meet in Leo at the full moon, Cancer solar festival, on Wednesday, July 1. The Cancer keynote is, “I build a lighted house and therein dwell.” The soul’s light has finally penetrated the “womb” of matter. The New Group of World Servers is to radiate this light. At the end of each sign are keywords to use and remember during the Chiron retrograde.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of June 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Kickin' Chicken

Local kitchen alchemist Justin Williams is fast becoming a cult flavor master. His late-night wizardry, which began last fall delivering mainly to starving UCSC students, is catching on with taste buds beyond campus. Kickin’ Chicken delivers its spicy-sweet fried chicken and waffles to Westside residents between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. nightly. Or you can catch him and his brother and sister, Candice and Danny Mendoza, serving it up at their “Sunday Mass” at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Using sous vide, a French method of cooking chicken in a water bath at a tightly controlled temperature, they then flash fry it for an amazingly crispy coat. Candice Mendoza spoke to GT about Kickin’ Chicken’s rise.

 

What’s a creative new approach to addressing summer beach litter?

Robotic dogs, with duct tape on their paws, that walk around picking up litter wherever they go. Joaquin Heinz, Santa Cruz, Barista

 

Pelican Ranch Winery

The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.

 

Open Wide

Soif’s soft reboot leads to expanded menu, plus the ‘thinking woman’s ketchup’