Friday, January 18, 2013

Becky Johnson and the "Eye Candy" of the Santa Cruz Eleven

Becky Johnson and Gabriella Ripley-Phipps exit the courtoom during a preliminary hearing in the Santa Cruz Eleven case on January 7, 2013.

On January 8, all of the charges against Becky Johnson in association with a bank occupation in Santa Cruz in 2011 were dropped, and to help show what she has been up to in the last year, I've compiled some of my favorite speeches by her that I have videotaped.

In the first video, Johnson gives a tongue-and-cheek description of herself, Desiree Foster, and Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, as the "eye-candy" of the Santa Cruz Eleven, and these videos of Johnson really give a feel of what it is like to be a woman and an activist today.

The videos, of course, also document how Johnson passionately advocates for the issues she cares about, and the first was recorded at India Joze restaurant in July of 2012. In it, Johnson describes how difficult it was for her not to go inside of the vacant bank during the occupation of 75 River Street.

In the next video from August of 2012, Johnson describes the similarities between Peacecamp 2010 and Occupy Santa Cruz.

The next three videos are from a candlelight vigil held in September of 2012 for those affected by the homeless sweeps in Santa Cruz that began in July of 2012.

On January 8, Becky Johnson joined those of the Santa Cruz Eleven who have had their charges dismissed against them by Santa Cruz Judge Paul Burdick. In addition to multiple counts of vandalism and trespass, eleven community members were originally charged in February of 2012 with felony conspiracy charges in association with the occupation of a vacant bank building that occurred in Santa Cruz in 2011. Presently only four of those defendants still face charges; the others have all had their charges dismissed in court hearings.

In a protest event where hundreds of people wound up entering the building over the course of a three-day occupation, six of those charged were know to police ahead of time for their profile in the activist community. Two were Indybay journalists (Bradley Stuart Allen and myself) and we were both known by the police for our coverage of protests, and of the local police themselves. 

Becky Johnson and three others of those charged, Robert Norse, Brent Adams, and Grant Wilson, are well known activists who all have created journalistic content, in one form or the other, in addition to their political activities. They were also known before the occupation for questioning the validity of a variety of police activities locally.

Johnson stated strongly that she never entered the building, but Officer William Winston, of the SCPD, testified that he saw her go inside. Out of the hours and hours of footage, no video or photographic evidence was ever admitted into evidence that showed Johnson entering the building, and Burdick stated in court on January 8 that he could find no evidence that she was in the vacant bank past the so-called official police warning delivered by Sgt. Michael Harms to the group of demonstrators that anyone inside was trespassing. 
In addition to being a teacher and a caregiver, Becky Johnson is a well known advocate for homeless people, and she has been a journalist in the Santa Cruz area for coming on two decades now.

To learn more about Becky Johnson, check out her blog at:

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