Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Save the Knoll March, August 14, 2011

At 12:30 pm on August 14, 2011, approximately 100 community members gathered at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Laurel Street in Santa Cruz to express outrage about the new KB Home development on Market Street.

On August 2, the remains of a Native American child were unearthed at the Market Street site by construction crews hired by KB Home. The remains are now in the posession of the California Native American Heritage Commission, which believes that Ann Marie Sayers, an Ohlone woman living at Indian Canyon in Hollister, is the "Most Likely Descendant." Sayers has been present at the burial site observing further archaeological work, but she has called for all earth moving to be halted.

During the march, community members made their way down Pacific Avenue to the Town Clock for a stop, and then marched down Water Street and Ocean Street to Grant Street Park where a short demonstration and prayer ceremony was held. Speeches were made by Corrina Gould, a Chochenyo Ohlone, and Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo a Miwok from Vallejo. Two police motorcycle patrols on Hubbard Street observed the marchers and followed the demonstration to Grant Street by using the backstreets.

Pacific Avenue

At the Town Clock

Ocean Street

Marchers then made their way from Grant Park to the Market Street construction site owned by KB Home. While at the construction site, another prayer ceremony was held, and a private security agent arrived. Approximately 10 minutes later a SCPD patrol vehicle arrived, and the officer called for back up, which brought two or three more patrol vehicles.

Market Street

Marchers enter the construction site

The prayer ceremony lasted for approximately 20 minutes, at which point the demonstrators left the construction site without incident and made their way back towards downtown. During the prayer ceremony, it was asked that no photography take place. The police were asked to respect this also, on religious grounds, but an officer continued to take pictures.

Police photographing the prayer ceremony

The concept of 'trespassing' was discussed during the prayer ceremony, but many if not most of the demonstrators were unclear as to whether or not they were trespassing at the construction site.
During the prayer ceremony, questions were put to the community: "What would you do if these were your ancestors? What would other people in the community do if the graves or burial grounds of their relatives were to have homes built on top of them? Another speaker during the prayer ceremony said that this was about saving the places where, "we can pray." In Santa Cruz, the Market Street site is that place.

Community members are asking for either the city to buy the property or for KB Home to donate it so that it can be preserved as a sacred site for people to pray and gather at.

For more info:

I originally published portions of this at Indybay and The Santa Cruz Wiki.

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