Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bob Lee's list is a little too convenient

by Becky Johnson
Feb 19, 2012

Santa Cruz, CA. -- I find myself reeling as my mind ponders what DA Bob Lee has done. I'm facing two felony charges and a misdemeanor for last November's Occupy 75 River Street action. While I had no part in planning or executing the action, I praised those who did. For while technically illegal (trespass on private property), the action of taking over a long-empty bank building and setting up a community center, was provocative, educational, and likely to end with criminal charges.

The last thing I thought was that I would face charges for covering the action on my blog. Lee has amplified those charges by claiming that the alternative media journalists covering the 3-day Occupation had engaged in a felonious "conspiracy" to enter and vandalize the building.

As the first person arraigned, I 've gotten a chance to see the case against myself (very flimsy) and against the other indictees (no evidence of conspiracy or vandalism). Unless Lee is holding back substantial evidence of a conspiracy or evidence that connects those charged with actual acts of vandalism, he doesn't have much of a case.

As Bob Lamonica has mused "It's like losing something in the dark, but searching for it over under the light." Lee's list of indictees has a very political bent to it.

First on the list to be charged (and NOT in alphabetical order) was Robert Norse, co-founder of HUFF, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom, frequent critic at City Council meetings, and currently suing three former mayors and two police officers for violating his civil rights when they arrested him in 2002 for giving a silent "Nazi" salute at a City Council meeting. Norse was covering the Occupation for his radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3FM.

In addition to writing this blog, I've, in the past, written for a homeless newspaper, produced a television show for 11 years, and a radio show for ten. In all of these venues, I promoted social justice issues involving poor and homeless people. Before Mayor Emily Reilly had it dissolved, I filed eight complaints about police misconduct to the Citizens Police Review Board.

Grant Wilson has long been involved with Art and Revolution.

Brent Adams has conducted July 3rd flag burning celebrations "to prove that we still can do such things." He has defended against police persecution of the Drum Circle. He is also a frequent contributor to cruz.

Alex Darocy has attended and photographed numerous newsworthy events around town and doesn't stick to conventional news events. Police got his name when they illegally detained him on a public sidewalk one day after police crushed the Occupy encampment in San Lorenzo Park, and only released him after he gave police his identity information.

Bradley Allen Stuart is a longtime Santa Cruz Indymedia monitor and photographer for alternative media organizations, as well as past affiliations with Free Radio Santa Cruz, the local "pirate" radio station.

Desiree Foster and Christina Ripplyphipps both served as police liasons, which, clearly helped to prevent any violent confrontations where injuries might have occurred. Yet the response of Chief Kevin Vogel and DA Bob Lee is to charge these two women with felonies. Clearly at any future action, Lee is pretty much assured that no civic-minded person will volunteer for such a task.

Finally, the least serious charge, misdemeanor trespass, requires certain elements in order to make a charge. One of these is to have "no trespassing" signs posted at the entrance to the building. There were none.

While the person or persons who stole the realtors' lock-box to obtain the key to the building certainly could face criminal charges, Lee has presented no evidence whatsoever about the identity of this person. Yet, Lee has the purse-strings to prosecute anyone he wants with what ever charges he can make for as long as he wants and has the budget to hire any legal resources he needs. Of course, with the judicial climate being what it is, he won't need that much.

Many a judge in Santa Cruz County is more than ready to send innocent people to jail, if there is political hay to be made.

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