March 14-21, 2007

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Paranoid Times

Guess it wasn't a pre-emptory students-for-regents hostage maneuver after all.

Back when UCSC police broke through a chain of protesters who were trapping UC regents inside a new humanities building, they arrested three students. These Oct. 18 arrests prompted some of the more creatively inclined members of the UCSC activist community to speculate that it was actually a strategic maneuver on the part of the police, the idea being that they would then be prepared for a potential hostage trade (students for regents) in order to end the whole situation without having to resort to using more of that nasty pepper spray.

But now that the district attorney has formally brought charges against two of those arrested, campus activists suspect more nefarious motives.

Last Wednesday, such motives--along with their historical context--were topics of exploration in a teach-in that was held at UCSC with the intention of galvanizing support for the two accused students.

Much of the teach-in focused on the plight of Alette Kendrick, who is being charged on three counts of assaulting an officer, one count of resisting arrest and another for disturbing the peace.

Speakers questioned why police originally targeted--and are now pressing charges that could result in up to three years of jail time against--Kendrick, who is both black and, perhaps more importantly, a known organizer of student protests in the past, including actions by the Student Worker Coalition for Justice and Students Against the War.

Speakers went on to place Kendrick's arrest in the context of what they view as the systemic racism underlying the University of California and, more broadly, our nation's history. As evidence for these allegations, the arrestees all said that Alette was kept face-down on the floor and guarded more heavily after her arrest, while the two white students were allowed to sit up and were treated less harshly.

The teach-in also drew attention to the growing gap between student activists and the UCSC administration and the enhanced sense of paranoia that both sides may be projecting onto each other. Reports of a new protest policy being penned by UCSC officials led some at the teach-in to predict a wider move to fragment and undermine the student protest movement, which has become increasingly unified in recent years. Of course, UC has demonstrated its own paranoia when dealing with student protestors, calling police to a subsequent Grad School Fair at which there was no protest planned and then canceling a February job fair.

Lean Mean Reporting Machine?

MediaNews mogul Dean Singleton's cost-cutting knife has once again been brandished to slice the gristle off his newspaper empire. This time the cut will be made to the Santa Cruz Sentinel's printing press, purchased (along with the rest of the paper) by MediaNews and other media companies in February of 2007. When Metro Santa Cruz originally reported on the Sentinel's purchase (News&Views, Feb 14), it cited reports that the Sentinel would continue to print locally and that no job losses were expected. Now it appears that low advertising revenue at the Sentinel and an overall desire to cut waste will result in the Sentinel being printed in San Jose, where MediaNews owns a handful of other newspapers, including the Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times. The closing of the press, slated for April 30, will result in 33 job losses and a strange night-time silence at the intersection of Church and Cedar, where the rhythmic churning of the Sentinel's presses has been heard by late-night passers-by for the past 150 years.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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