December 2, 2011

Update on Takeover of Vacant Building at 75 River Street

I wanted to give you an update on the issues we've been facing with the Occupy Santa Cruz takeover of the vacant bank building on River and Water. It's important to me to share information with you on our philosophy regarding the takeover and also let you know some of our concerns for safety.

On Wednesday afternoon, without communication or notice to our agency, a group of approximately 30-40 people took over the vacant bank property at River and Water. Within a short period of time another 150 or so people gathered outside in support of the illegal action. We are extremely concerned over this action and view it as a significant escalation over their activities for the last 6 or so weeks. We've attempted to maintain open communication and dialogue with the Occupy Santa Cruz group and always support one's First Amendment right to peacefully protest. However, you in no way have a First Amendment right to break into a building and squat on private property. We agree with many of you that have contacted us that this is a complete disregard for private property rights and we're deeply troubled by many of their comments that show remarkable entitlement and lack of interest in serious dialogue.

During the evening we attempted, with the limited staff we had on hand, to secure the front door so no additional people would enter the building. We wanted to provide a notice of trespass and start a formal dialogue with those responsible. However, we were met with threats, encouragement from those within the building to those outside to break through our line and a fortification of the entrance. Our officers observed anarchists, such as those that we believe were engaged in the May Day riot downtown, within the agitated crowd. We knew that there would be no way to ensure the safety of our officers or the protesters if we stayed.

Our first interest is in dialogue to end this peacefully. Yesterday we went down there with a cell phone and provided it to Brent Adams, someone that has been in the media as a leader or representative. We are well aware that if we are forced to go in to clear out the building that officers and protestors may be hurt. This is not our interest or intent. But we also will not let them stay in this location. It is completely unacceptable that they are blatantly disregarding the law and we know that the longer this goes on the more confrontational it can become. Please be assured that we are developing contingency plans to protect people and property.

 Naturally, no one is really coming forward as responsible for this but the following people (at the bottom of the email) have been speaking on behalf of the group and we'd encourage you to contact them if you have concerns. As always, feel free to reach out to our agency with your concerns or comments and we appreciate your continued support.


Kevin Vogel
Chief of Police

People that have been speaking on behalf of the group to the media or others:
·    Paul Johnston
·    Steve Pleich
·    Brent Adams
·    Desiree Foster
·    Gabriella aka: “Wildcat” (no last name given)
·    Mindi Lawrence