Updated: Aug 2
Dear Santa Cruz,
As Black Lives Matter Month in Santa Cruz and the momentum for the movement wind-down simultaneously (or so it feels). It is with a somber heart that I bring forth a number of atrocious events that happened during this historic month in our community.
For me personally, when I heard that Mayor Justin Cummings had declared July 2020 Black Lives Matter Month in Santa Cruz, I was optimistic. I was excited to think of the incredible actions and policies that would come from this declaration to propel our community forward and be a blueprint for the entire nation.
Unfortunately, the type of actions that we witnessed were not ones of policy, but rather a month fueled with hate-filled incidents across our entire county. From direct to more subtle forms of racism- our BIPOC community experienced an uptick in the wide variety of levels of blatant white supremacy and inaction (apathy) for our Black Lives here in Santa Cruz.
Below I have highlighted the main incidents that have headlined Black Lives Matter Month 2020. The forms of racism vary and are executed by community members, law enforcement, and a combination of systems that are in place to continue to keep us oppressed and our spirits low.
With a number of our elected out on PTO and the council members not meeting at all during the month of July (which is always the case), #BlackLivesMatterMonth felt like a not so subtle attempt to distract and deter attention from the main goals at hand - policy and sustainable change in our community.
I close this letter by highlighting that unfortunately Black Lives Matter Month for me was nothing but an attempt to put a band-aid over a gaping wound. This is a reminder that our work as a community towards dismantling racism and white supremacy must be strategic, aggressive, and swift. We cannot continue to allow this culture of hate to thrive in our community. It is my hope that we continue to work toward actionable policies and acceptance within our community for the years to come.
Happy Black Lives Matter Month.
Esabella Bonner, Blended Bridge
Black Lives Matter Month- July 2020
June 23rd: Black Lives Matter Month publicly announced in Santa Cruz.
June 28th: "Unprovoked attack" of a local Black resident in Santa Cruz Sunday morning being investigated as a hate crime.
July 1st - Capitola Black Lives Matter March kicked off Black Lives Matter Month.
July 2nd - Sheriffs & SCPD denied the death threat case of a Black minor. A local Black activist (17 years old) has received numerous death threats after organizing a multitude of protests across the county, but specifically in SLV/ Ben Lomond area. On July 2nd, 2020 SCPD denied the case or the proper resources to file a complaint.
The weekend of July 4th (undetermined times): Ofrenda (Town Clock Tower Memorial) was destroyed
July 4th- On July 4th, my sister and I were attacked while protesting through Downtown Santa Cruz. We received no contact information from law enforcement or ways to follow up upon initial contact. We received no resources or follow up on how to press charges or file for protection, instead, we were told (multiple times) that no crime was committed. My sister and I were met with what felt like resistance and a complete disregard and apathy for Black victims Lives.
July 5th- Violent hate crime in midtown -Knife-Wielding Man Screamed Slurs At Black Man, Police Say
July 5th- Noose Found on UCSC Campus.
July 6th- “This is America, Love it or Leave it “. - U-Save Liquor
Marissa goes public about the disrespect that she received while working as an Indigenous Woman at U-Save Liquor. Learn more here @thairieritchie.
July 7th- UCSC PD released a video of suspects hanging the noose. The campus also released a statement referring to this incident as "potentially bias-related". Those with information about the incident can contact UCSC Police Department with information at 831-459-2231 ext. 1 to speak with an officer.
July 9th- Black Lives Matter Flag is hung at City Hall alongside the Pan African flag.
July 14th- UCSC NAACP releases their official statement regarding the hanging of the noose on campus.
July 15th- Good Times Article released featuring 3 local Black youth activists.
July 16th- SCPD attempted to discredit and diminish the credibility (and severity) of the U-Save incident to clear (an already cleared) officer's name. By choosing to actively ignore the pain of the initial claim - SCPD blindly bulldozed in and organized an investigation with taxpayer dollars in order to clear an already innocent officer’s name. This investigation did nothing but reaffirm what Thairie and Marissa had already expressed and retracted on their social media. This was a blatant attempt to discredit and delegitimize Black voices in our community.
Note: This event is important to highlight because it illuminates the misplaced areas of resources and energy that SCPD continually chooses to engage in.
July 22- White power symbol flashed at Woman of color at the Felton Market. Another day at the Farmers Market in Ben Lomond! Learn more at @dionlimtv.
With our leaders nowhere to be found for the entirety of Black Lives Matter Month, it continues to be up to us, the outraged Santa Cruz Community, to continue to use our voices and firmly reject the notions and actions of white supremacy. While we remain hopeful and optimistic about the changes that are to come in our community, we also recognize the importance of accurately highlighting and remembering the first annual Black Lives Matter month in Santa Cruz history.
Esabella Bonner, Blended Bridge
Faith Brown, organizer
and many more.