Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Mar 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Crime Watch on the Web

news2Controversial local website keeps tabs on stabbings

There are some things that shouldn’t be joked about—although, despite being taboo, even the most offensive of topics often end up as the theme of a “South Park” episode or a joke in some comedian’s stand-up routine.

Here in Santa Cruz, a serious subject has been given comedic life on the increasingly popular website StabSantaCruz.com. The site features a “Stab-O-Meter” that tallies the number of stabbings per year, a “Stab Clock” that keeps track of the number of days we’ve gone without a stabbing, and merchandise, like a T-shirt that reads “Stabalicious! Santa Cruz, California.” A purposely-tacky image tops the page, showing silhouetted figures running from a legion of disembodied knives with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the background.

Santa Cruz doesn’t take its violence lightly, but despite the site’s blatant facetiousness and debatable distastefulness, neither does its creator.

Helbard Alkhassadeh is a 37-year-old product photographer, radio host, website hobbyist and unofficial Santa Cruz crime watchdog. He launched Stab Santa Cruz in October 2008 after hearing about a spell of stabbings that happened over the course of one weekend, generating 10,000 hits in its first month. The site’s purpose is to raise awareness about a community problem, Alkhassadeh says, and the humor is just the hook.

“I knew that if I made it a serious site, it would end up being boring and no one would care and everyone would still go to the news sites to get [that information],” he says. The way he sees it, visitors are coming for a laugh, but leaving knowing the gravity of the issue. “It’s a positive bait and switch,” he says.

Not all visitors find the website funny, however, and Alkhassadeh reports receiving equal parts hate and fan mail.

According to the site, 71 stabbings were reported in Santa Cruz County in 2009. As of press time, the 2010 Stab-O-Meter was at seven.

“It was at zero on Jan. 1, and now we’re at seven,” Alkhassadeh told Good Times in early February. “Seven people have had to go in and get themselves stitched up. We’re on our way to another 70 plus year. The clock is ticking.”

Santa Cruz Police Department spokesperson Zach Friend guesses that Alkhassadeh’s information (gathered from local news sources and e-mails from community members) is “pretty accurate.” Although he says StabSantaCruz.com rarely crosses the SCPD’s radar, Friend does believe the site is serving a unique purpose: unlike news sources or the police department, where the violent crime data is not separated by types of crime, the site aggregates all of the information on one specific issue.

“People may read on a day-to-day basis that there was a stabbing in the county, but it doesn’t enter their conciousness in the way that it would if they went to an aggregated source, like his site, where they’d see the total number of a specific crime, like stabbings,” says Friend. “I assume that’s what he’s making a commentary on. It shows the full extent of a specific problem.”

The website might not be on the police radar, but Alkhassadeh has been for several years. After moving to the “Lower Broadway” area of the Beach Flats in 2003, he spearheaded a neighborhood effort to curb crime and clean up the notoriously shady area. He encouraged neighbors to call 911 when needed (something that seems obvious, but he says residents weren’t doing), and launched the website thelowerbroadway.com, where neighbors can find safety tips and resources, hear neighborhood stories and news, and more.

According to Friend, the area “absolutely benefited after they got organized.”

Following the success of the Lower Broadway movement, Alkhassadeh decided to expand his peace-making goals. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to change the world, but I can change my street,’” he says. “Stab Santa Cruz goes back to that philosophy: I’ve got to pick my battles. I think that as a community we can fix this. There will always be stabbings, but we can reduce them.”

2009 saw one stabbing that brought the entire community—Alkhassadeh’s site included—to a standstill. The tragic death of 16-year-old Santa Cruz High School student Tyler Tenorio, who was stabbed to death on Oct. 16, led to a wave of public outcry over local violence. Alkhassadeh received what he calls a “rash of angry e-mails” about his site, which many felt made light of the situation. Tenorio happened to be the nephew of one of his close friends; the heartbreak of stabbing had finally hit home for Alkhassadeh.

“There was this personal connection—someone I knew had someone who was so close to him, so valuable, taken away. It just didn’t make sense,” he says. In the face of increasing scrutiny, he charged forward with the website. “My friend said ‘Keep doing what you’re doing,’” he remembers. “That was a big justification of the site for me.”

He hopes that Santa Cruz will turn concern into action, and that someday he will be able to retire StabSantaCruz.com due to low numbers of stabbings. Until then, he’ll continue relaying the information through the universal language of humor.

“I don’t know what more the police can do. I think it’s the people who need to stop thinking, ‘I’ll be fine,’” he says. “The 16-year-old getting stabbed not far from his school—a teenager getting murdered—should have been a wake up call to Santa Cruz that we need to step up. We the people need to step up. We need to stop telling the government to do something that is our responsibility.”

Comments (3)Add Comment
Quit inflating your figures with Watsonville stabbings
written by Nicholas, July 22, 2010
Santa Cruz does not include Watsonville. They are many miles apart, separated by exclusive beach communities, wilderness, and farmland.

I never even go to Watsonville, unless its to hear Jazz at the Green Valley Grill.

So quit inflating your figures with Watsonville gang stabbings. Ancient history.
GTW keep doing what you're doing
written by flip, February 19, 2010
when i was a senior in high school i was stabbed too, i lost my senior year of playing baseball and dreams of playing at the college level and beyond. what your doing is great, let the people know whats really happening out in our streets. the sentinel wrote a small paragraph about my incident hidden deep in the pages, but no one really knew what really happened, almost like it was dismissed as if it had never happened keep doing what you're doing, inform the people. -flip
Stabbings
written by Leo Randall, February 17, 2010
Thank you! For not being a wimp, as I see it, most Americans now-a-days are wimps. Get tough like Sheriff Joe and stand up against all crime. You've got it down, raising awareness that there are monsters, disguised as humans, out there and we all need to "get tough"! Okay, now you need to find out who are doing these stabbings, find out why there is stabbings. Find out who and where they come from. Know your enemies and fight against them, together. Don't stop being tough, we citizens love you for it. Leo.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia