Sunday, October 21, 2012

Occupy Santa Cruz Celebrates One Year Together

On Friday, October 5, Occupy Santa Cruz celebrated its first anniversary with a general assembly at Laurel Park, followed by a documentary film screening about the Santa Cruz version of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Laurel Park was the site of the first meeting and general assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz on October 4, 2011. Returning there one year later for a birthday celebration, approximately 70 people attended the film screening. Community members reported that there were about 20-30 people at the general assembly held beforehand. The evening in some ways felt like a reunion of old friends, as many in attendance had lived together night and day at the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment in San Lorenzo Park, which existed from October 6 to December 8, 2011.

Community members active with a variety of nearby occupations were present at OSC's anniversary, including Occupy Monterey, and one person involved with Occupy San Jose said that he was thinking of moving to Santa Cruz because, "this is were all the action is."

Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In set up a screen and projection equipment in the middle of Laurel Park for what was the first public screening of the Brent Adams documentary, "What Are You Doing Here? Inside Occupy Santa Cruz." Adams himself participated in the occupation, while also filming it, and the resulting documentary features intimate, insider interviews with other local occupiers, in addition to an exploration of a variety of other events that occurred in the local movement.

Occupy Santa Cruz has been operating continuously under the same mission statement and statement of autonomy since the groups inception, and public, bi-weekly general assemblies are held alternately at the court house and the post office.

As the group maintains its visible public presence with direct actions, peaceful assemblies, and the "occupation" of public space, Occupy Santa Cruz continues to receive attention from the authorities. Those at the anniversary celebration reported that they were being videotaped for a good portion of the time they were in Laurel Park, and at least half a dozen officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department were present at various locations at the park's closing time of 10pm.

At 10:05, three officers approached those watching the film. It was explained to them that the movie was almost over, and the officers walked back to their patrol vehicles and stood and waited. The film ended shortly after that, and people left casually. Shortly before 11pm the last person to still linger on the park's lawn, a man wrapped in a sleeping bag, was encouraged to leave the area by Lt. Flippo, and as the last few community members chatted on the sidewalk, SCPD was out of there by 11pm sharp.

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