The Anarchist Profile in Santa Cruz
SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- Santa Cruz police say an anarchist group is responsible for Saturday’s melee during a May Day rally in downtown Santa Cruz. Officers say vandals damaged 18 businesses during the riot.
World Book defines anarchism as a political theory that promotes the abolition of government and in some cases by violence and terror. That theory was definitely displayed last Saturday with the destruction downtown.
“We believe the group that used the May Day event as a cover were black block anarchists, they’ve been within our community for sometime,” said Deputy Chief Rick Martinez.
Like the Sub Rosa Cafe, who has yet to speak on camera but told me today they have no management, no pay scale, and work only as volunteers to keep the place running.
“Anti-government, anti-establishment, create a lot of division within the community,” said Martinez.
In fact just Wednesday afternoon police had to break up a fight between a drum circle at the farmer’s market and a man who was trying to gather people to resist the police.
Police say the group will recruit a young impressionable crowd for their cause, like students at UCSC where an employee with the IT department is actually a major player in the local anarchist scene.
“On campus itself attacks on Kerr Hall, the treesitters, and we had the animal research bombing a few years ago,” said Martinez.
Santa Cruz police say bringing in the FBI to investigate the underground culture is something badly needed after Saturday’s attacks, “They’ve collected a lot of intelligence over the years and a lot of it on members within our community that are involved in this type of activity,” said Martinez.
Santa Cruz City Council offers reward in riot, homicide cases
SANTA CRUZ – A day after granting the police department permission to fill officer positions held vacant due to budget constraints, the City Council announced Wednesday that it would contribute $5,000 in reward funds for two gang-related homicides and last weekend’s anarchist riot.
A trio of council members announced several anti-crime measures after a closed-door meeting Wednesday with police managers and business members of the Downtown Association. Several people who are not downtown business owners were asked to leave, including a group that subleases space to the city’s most visible anarchist organization.
Council members pledged redevelopment funds to assist business owners with security improvements, as well as repair
Louis Rittenhouse surveys the damage to the Rittenhouse Building on Pacific Avenue on Sunday, hours after rioters rampaged through downtown Santa Cruz. (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel file)
costs incurred in Saturday’s anarchist riot, which caused an estimated $100,000 in damages. The reward money will be drawn from the council’s special projects fund and added to the police department’s general reward fund.
City officials said they would study new ordinances to improve safety downtown and better enforce existing rules to create a “no-tolerance” policy for crime. Federal agencies already have joined probes into the riot and gang-related slayings, but the council members said more federal assistance would be sought.
“We want to make very clear that we, as City Council members, are completely focused on prosecuting and preventing crime in our community,” Councilmember Ryan Coonerty said in a statement after the
meeting. “If you are engaging in violence, you are not welcome in this community and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The council announced Tuesday night that it had authorized City Manager Dick Wilson to fill eight vacant positions in the police department, which will cost $1 million on top of a city deficit nearing $4 million. Mayor Mike Rotkin said residents may be asked to support a new public safety tax to help cover the increased public safety costs.
In the meantime, police have diverted some traffic officers to patrol beats and offered overtime to officers from nearby police agencies to prevent burnout of city cops.
Councilmembers Coonerty, Lynn Robinson and Cynthia Mathews met with about 70 business owners and high-level police officials for 90 minutes Wednesday to discuss other ways the city could address concerns about safety. The officials said they would work with businesses to install security cameras, improve lighting and coordinate efforts with the downtown hosts and private security guards that work for individual stores.
“We, like the community, are outraged and frustrated at the wave of senseless violence inflicted on our community,” Robinson said in a statement.
Diane Towns, owner of Velvet Underground, an apparel store whose storefront window was shattered Saturday, applauded the city’s reward and the offer to help pay her window replacement, which will cost more than $1,000.
“Anything we can do to turn what was a very negative happening into something positive,” she said. “I would like to see surveillance cameras on the street so when things like this happen we can identify people that way.”
Coonerty said installing more public cameras is a possibility, but the city also encourages business owners to invest in security cameras that will record goings-on in their store and in the street in front of their properties.
At the meeting, Coonerty said business owners quizzed police about how much they knew about the unsanctioned event, which was advertised as a May Day dance party at the Town Clock, before it happened. Police have said they had no reason to suspect the dance party posed a threat, but now suspect it was a cover story for the demonstration.
Micah Posner, a member of the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Transportation, which leases space to the SubRosa Café, was asked to leave Wednesday’s meeting along with several others from the Hub because they are not members of the Downtown Association.
The SubRosa Café, an anarchist reading room, has denied any involvement in Saturday’s vandalism, which included breaking windows and tagging anarchist-themed graffiti. Authorities have not said whether they are investigating the organization in connection with the destruction, which affected 18 businesses.
Posner declined to comment about being ejected from Wednesday’s meeting, but issued a statement about the Hub’s response to the violence.
“We live and work downtown, and value good relations with our neighbors,” Posner wrote. “These riotous acts were childish, macho and seemingly pointless.”
However, he wrote, “We do not appreciate the indiscriminate backlash against radical and alternative organizations. Members of the SubRosa Collective, People Power and The Hub’s landlords, who are longtime residents, businessmen and property owners in the county, have all received threats of physical violence and harassment online and in person.”
Police Chief Howard Skerry brought in the FBI to work on the anarchist case earlier this week and on Wednesday announced that an anti-gang task force affiliated with the federal immigration service would assist city detectives in trying to solve two gang-related slayings.