Plus Letters to the Editor
There are some weeks, just by their very design, that simply force an entire community to take pause. A big one. Last week was one of those weeks. By now, most of us have learned about the tragic death of Camouflage owner Shannon Collins. The ripple effect of this loss is being felt throughout the entire community.
Collins was walking along the 300 block of Broadway in Santa Cruz in the late morning on May 7. She was returning from a hair salon appointment when she was attacked by a stranger, stabbed repeatedly and died. The suspect, Charles Anthony Edwards III, is being held for the crime. Meanwhile, the aftermath sparked an outpouring of comments from locals. I have included a number of them on this page and page 5 (see related article page 10), because, after reading them, it is clear to me that many of the concerns, thoughts and emotions expressed surrounding the matter, illuminate much larger issues and perceptions, ones that have been lingering—perhaps festering—for quite some time. Certainly, when a tragic event, such as this one, happens, emotions run high. But there is something eye-opening in what many letter writers are expressing. Between the lines you can hear a devotion to this community … and a loud cry for understanding, for support, for protection. Some claim Santa Cruz has become a depository for a transient population? Has it? Others wonder just how safe Santa Cruz is? Mostly, those writing in want to be heard, perhaps “healed.” And others wondered: “What can we do?”
I walked “the walk” that Take Back Santa Cruz created for Shannon Collins on Monday evening May 14. Many supporters gathered at the scene of the crime on the 300 block of Broadway. There were a few short announcements and around 7 p.m., the procession commenced. There was a moment when we crossed the street and walked across the bridge over the San Lorenzo River when gallery owner Angelo Grova and I stopped. We turned our heads, looked behind us and there it was—the breathtaking site of an organized line filled with hundreds of locals, who were walking in peace to bring Collins “home” to Camouflage on Pacific Avenue. The combined focused energy of a community is a powerful sight to behold.
Bad things happen, it’s true. But, for many of those walking the walk for Shannon, there is no greater cure for this devastating death than the power of community. So, if we ever doubt that our community can unite, can heal, can progress … I suspect that after Monday’s demonstration to the contrary, those doubts are now fading.
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the editor
Ken Vinson’s Statement on Death of Shannon Collins This is Ken Vinson, the husband of the late Shannon Collins. There are no words to convey the sorrow that I and my friends and family are experiencing at this time. The loss of Shannon is beyond our comprehension and we are grieving for the bright, shining woman who is now gone from our lives. Thank you for the outpouring of love, kindness and generosity both within my personal community as well as those who have visited Camouflage. I want everyone to know how grateful I am for your support. I am profoundly humbled to learn how much my beloved wife meant to so many people across our community.
I have been consumed in my own private grief, but am aware that Santa Cruz, as a whole, is also mourning. I am thankful for the work of Take Back Santa Cruz, and of the owner of the Stab Santa Cruz site. I am familiar with their current efforts, all of which I support. I am asking, in honor of the memory and legacy of Shannon, that we all strive for peace at this time.
I am also aware of the horror, outrage and fear that this unspeakable crime has caused. I realize that everyone is in shock and disbelief that something like this could happen here. I know that there are many questions to ask in the future about how and why such an act of violence can take place in our small beach community. I hope that the city government and service agencies will take up those questions soon. Right now, in the present, I am mourning my wife and best friend.
We all know that there are problems with the system, that there is a large transient population in our city, and that Santa Cruz has its issues.
But I want to be very clear about one thing: None of these things caused this horrific crime.
A single individual did. There are evil people in the world. This crime could have occurred in any city in any state across our union. It is an utter, utter tragedy that this occurred here, and to such a beautiful, young woman.
But I implore you: Do not blame the system. Do not blame an entire population. And most of all, do not blame Santa Cruz.
Honor my late wife by remembering her, who she was, who she touched, and what she meant. That’s what she would have wanted. A public memorial will be held in the near future. To honor Shannon, please visit rememberingshannon.com.
Robinson, Bryant and Coonerty Speak Out
Regarding the death of Shannon Collins on May 7, this is a statement from Santa Cruz Councilmember Lynn Robinson, Vice Mayor Hilary Bryant, and Councilmember Ryan Coonerty: “Santa Cruz lost a radiant community member when Shannon Collins was brutally murdered in a senseless act of violence. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this unimaginable time of grief and mourning. We, along with our community, are deeply shocked, outraged and saddened by this tragedy. We wish to thank our Police Department for the swift capture of the suspect and are grateful for the witnesses that stepped forward. As the facts begin to unfold, we will work side by side with the community and judicial system to see justice served and our community is healed.”
Councilmember Lynn Robinson,
Vice Mayor Hilary Bryant,
Councilmember Ryan Coonerty
On ‘Shannon Collins’ …
Having a business in Santa Cruz for over 30 years, I’ve seen a lot happen over the years. If we’re pointing fingers, I choose Reagan, because the transient problem blossomed after he cut the mental health budgets to nothing. Mental health is a joke in California, I sure hope we can get people like that man off the streets. I’d be willing to pay a few extra cents if it kept men like him locked up or medicated.
— Local Business Owner
This is an outrage. As long as we continue to allow our city to be a haven for transients this problem will continue to get worse. Over the last decade this city has gone from having a few bad areas to becoming a giant bad area.
This is incredibly sad. Blessings to Shannon, her family and all who were touched by her life. Mr. Local, please place blame where blame is due. This was caused by one person not a whole class of people.
For All I think the person who says this is a result of the “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” campaign misses the whole point. It’s not about the transients. It’s about the melting pot of individuals and groups who are welcomed for their individuality. These same senseless acts happen in just about every town. Prayers to the family, friends and patrons.
This is indeed sad. Yes I agree. This area of town has become worse. What can we expect when we have cut the budget to the people that are supposed to police our community? It is up to the citizens to keep a watchful eye as the police are overworked and understaffed.
Does anyone realize that places like San Francisco send their homeless to our city? They give them bus passes!
For true Santa Cruz pride, the question should be asked: Where were the SCPD at the time that this happened, when Broadway has always been a high crime area along with the Lower Ocean section of Santa Cruz? The SCPD officer who might have prevented this tragedy from happening was probably harassing a homeless person. Or someone smoking on Pacific Avenue. Or writing a loitering ticket for a local sitting with their back against a building in the tourist shopping district.
—A Real Local
This isn’t a Santa Cruz transient problem. This is a violent person coming from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and committing a crime. It’s an awful situation. They caught the guy. He will pay. No need to keep pointing fingers right now.
Local Coming from a third generation local, the problem absolutely is transients, who come to Santa Cruz from all over because homeless services PAYS PEOPLE FOR BEING HOMELESS. I know this because I cashed those checks at Coast Commercial Bank when it existed. Any place that provides incentives to be a transient is perpetuating its existence.
This is a very sad day for Santa Cruz. This woman was one of the pillars of our community. My heart goes out to all family and friends affected by this tragedy, as well as to all the neighbors in the area that now have to be scared just to walk down the street. Shame on our local government, our mayor and the city council. It’s time that we change our town. Obviously the people who are getting paid to run santa cruz can’t handle the job. Let’s change that.