District Attorney investigators raid SubRosa

SANTA CRUZ – Investigators with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office raided the SubRosa anarchist Cafe on Wednesday, reportedly looking for workers’ compensation documents.

Details of the raid were sparse Thursday. But Rick Martinez, Santa Cruz deputy police chief, confirmed the incident.

Wes Modes, co-founder of SubRosa, said four officers were at the Cafe and asked about “workers’ comp issues.”

“We were closed at the time,” Modes wrote in an e-mail.

“SubRosa has no employees and has an all-volunteer staff and is therefore not obligated to pay workers’ comp,” Modes said.

Once investigators left, Martinez said, members of the SubRosa called the Santa Cruz Police Department to complain that their door was kicked in and they were not treated well.

Officials from the District Attorney’s Office did not return calls late Thursday.

SubRosa’s website does not mention the raid, but asks readers to “contribute to what might end up being a long and expensive legal defense.”

The raid on SubRosa comes on the heels of the May 1 riot that led to broken windows, graffiti and paint-ball splatters causing about $100,000 in damage to 18 downtown businesses. Police have called in the FBI and have said an unnamed anarchist group is responsible and one of two men arrested in connection with the vandalism said in court he worked at SubRosa.

SubRosa has denied involvement in the riot and has said the man, Jimi Haynes, a
24-year-old transient from Fresno County, was not affiliated with the anarchist cafe.

The raid also comes on the heels of the Saturday night shut-down of Guerilla Drive-In, a do-it-yourself event that for eight years has shown movies on the blank walls of buildings, bridges and other structures. Modes, a Felton resident and self-declared anarchist, is co-founder of both SubRosa Cafe and the Guerilla Drive-In.

Martinez said the movie shut-down and the district attorney visit to SubRosa were not related.

Supporters of Guerilla Drive-In say Saturday night’s early movie ending was an unnecessary response to the May 1 riots.

“It is a knee-jerk reaction to the events of May Day,” said Guerilla Drive-In spokeswoman Elizabeth Burchfield. “I may be naive, but you’d think that getting members of the community together to clean up public space and hold family-friendly events for free would be the kind of thing the city would support.”

But the May 1 vandalism happened under the cover of a non-permitted dance party, billed as a celebration of workers’ rights. After that destruction, city leaders have said they will crack down on non-permitted events.

“I think that’s a really great thing that they’re doing. I just want them to get a permit like everyone else,” said Mayor Mike Rotkin.

Martinez said his officers were responding to a noise complaint when they encountered the movie-goers under the Soquel Avenue Bridge along the San Lorenzo River.

Had the organizers requested a permit, Rotkin said, the event could have continued because it was held before 10 p.m. and thus not violating noise ordinances.

But Burchfield said the point of Guerilla Drive-In “is to challenge these laws that make public places off limits at night,” and that includes not taking out permits beforehand.

A neighbor of SubRosa hopes to bring people together this weekend to discuss healing the community after the riot.

Steve Schnaar, bookkeeper at The Hub for Sensible Transportation at the corner of Spruce Street and Pacific Avenue, has organized three sessions of small group talks Sunday, Monday and Tuesday that he hopes will connect city residents from varying walks of life to talk about the riots and their response.

“We were affected by this,” said Schnaar, whose employer sublets space to SubRosa.

Schnaar and facilitator Christine King with the Resource Center for Nonviolence hope to draw some of the students, shopkeepers, homeless residents and family members that Guerilla Drive-In often attracts to its movies to their talks. Already, Councilmembers Don Lane and Katherine Beiers have given the discussions their support.

The talks, which are limited to 25 people per session, are “not about who did it and how are we going to punish them,” King said. “Our downtown is really special and we want to feel safe. This is something we all have in common. We’re hoping it’s an opening to move forward.”

Councilman Ryan Coonerty, whose wife’s family business had its windows shattered on May 1, said discussion is typically a positive step.

“It’s a good thing if people want to find ways to engage and talk about downtown and solutions that would be beneficial to everybody,” Coonerty said.

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