Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BearCat Battle Moves Forward in Santa Cruz, City Council May Revisit Issue in March

February 10 marked the fourth consecutive Santa Cruz City Council meeting where residents have protested the police purchase of a $250,000 BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) funded by two Department of Homeland Security grants. As with the previous protests, community members again rallied in the City Hall courtyard and entered Tuesday's council meeting as a group to speak out against the purchase of the armored attack-style vehicle during the open communications period at 5pm.

City council chambers.

A large group of community members hoped to speak to the BearCat issue, but Mayor Don Lane did not add any time to the oral communications period, as he had done at the previous two city council meetings when attendance was high. As a result, some people were not allowed to speak.

However, Council Member Micah Posner, along with Lane, announced that they would be bringing the BearCat issue back to the council's agenda in March.

"What is anticipated to come up to the agenda in March," Mayor Lane said, "is both the vehicle use policy and the discussion of the system for procurement going forward on larger items like this and the grant program, how we accept grants."

Lane said there would be time for the public to discuss the BearCat issue at the meeting in March.

Community members continue to call for the BearCat order to be rescinded.

The announcement from Lane and Posner addresses some of the subjects of interest cited by community members organizing with SCRAM! (Santa Cruz Resistance Against Militarization!), but the group's three demands remain as follows:

1) to bring the BearCat back onto the SC City Council agenda for a full public hearing and to rescind the approval

2) to establish a long term policy for grant applications and acceptance in the City that ensures timeliness, transparency, full public disclosure and input

3) to help develop and implement policies that prevent military equipment from flowing into law enforcement agencies throughout Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz City Hall.

Sherry Conable of SCRAM! speaks.

Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs table outside of Council Chambers.

Police Chief Vogel speaks about fireworks as community members entered the chambers.

Speaking to the city council.

Vietnam Veteran Frederick Baker of Veterans For Peace speaks to the council.

Ron Pomerantz of SCRAM! speaks to the council.

Community member wearing a "BearCat" around their neck.

Council chambers.

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