Plus Letters To the Editor
While attending the sold-out lecture of Marrianne Williamson last weekend, locals seemed touched by Williamson’s “blessing” to the local community in the aftermath of the deaths of Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler, who were killed in the line of duty on Feb. 26. There were other highlights from Williamson’s talk, too, but the takeaway that hit home the most was when the revered author and lecturer noted that “the time for spiritual data gathering is over … we all know this stuff. It’s time to step it up and … kick some ass.”
Not literally, but you get the idea. The thought resonates on a number of levels and perhaps the Santa Cruz community will see some of that “stepping up” played out this week and in the coming weeks as it honors the legacy that officers Baker and Butler left behind, especially during the memorial procession and service slated for them on March 7.
Regardless of whether you are fan of Williamson’s or not, she poses an intriguing question: How does one “step it up”—really? How does one make a difference—today? As I wrote online last week, Santa Cruz does not, despite popular belief, live in a bubble. If it is to be a stronger community, if it is to stand together and explore options and solutions (and even healing), it must use the tools it has to work with today to do just that so that, collectively, it can galvanize a broader vision of the area and, perhaps, not always settle for what it has, but to push for what it really needs.
In the coming weeks, exploring and vocalizing those needs may increase. How it will all be received remains to be seen, but if history has taught us anything, then we already know some things to be true: Santa Cruz is resilient; Santa Cruz is strong; Santa Cruz knows how to heal. It did so after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and it rallied together after the murder of Shannon Collins last year. These are but two reminders of what Santa Cruz is capable of doing when it unites its collective mind.
More soon …
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
To Protect and Serve
… Or from Blue to Black in just a few hours. This letter is in regard to the deaths of police officers on Tuesday, Feb. 26. How do I describe it? Gut-wrenching, body-shaking, glued-to-the TV screen, praying for a different ending. And wondering why here, why now, why them? I am sure the officers [Baker and Butler] did not expect it.
I was raised to respect, honor, and obey men and women in uniform—still carrying on the tradition. They are priority when walking in to a room and deserve the very best of service as they selflessly give us daily. They are our friends, classmates, co-workers, and family members. I hope Santa Cruzans become even more compassionate of the SCPD and all they do to keep us out of harms way.
BOLD AND FOWL
One local found this fella hanging around outside of the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz. And yes—he stayed a while. photo/Tracy Mongold.
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Honoring The Fallen
Words can often offer support and encouragement, but there are times when words simply cannot turn back a course of horrific events. As the Santa Cruz community continues to move through its various stages of grief and understanding surrounding the tragic deaths of Santa Cruz police officers, Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler, GT salutes their significant contributions to the community over the years, as well as their heroic efforts to keep our area safe and their courage to face unimaginable challenges.
A venue change for the March 7 memorial honoring fallen SCPD officers Baker and Butler from Downtown Santa Cruz to HP Pavillion in San Jose will accommodate the thousands of people hoping honor the officers. For locals who can’t travel to San Jose, take note of a simulcast at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz. (Also at 11 a.m. at The Del Mar Theatre.) The officers’ families issued a statement saying: “We are extremely pleased we were able to locate a venue that would allow all supporters to have an opportunity to honor these officers together under one roof.”
On ‘A Perfect Storm’ …
Santa Cruz has had a very high violent crime rate per capita for many years, according to FBI statistics which are published online. Per capita, if you look at cities of similar size 50k-65k, Santa Cruz has reported either the first, second or third highest violent crime rate in California since at least 2005. It does not appear to be a new problem. Who are the perpetrators; are these gang, mental illness, homeless, and/or drug related? Let’s figure out a plan to stop the bleeding, more law enforcement on the street? And then lets get educated and address the systemic issues.
With news of another shooting in Santa Cruz just reaching me, I went onto the web to find the news, which led me to this article. It seems this article has good and/or bad timing, depending on your perspective. Anyway, just wanted to comment that this is an excellent piece, exploring both the (perhaps over-reactive) citizen response to the crime spike and the more detached perspective that we are simply riding a statistical high. My compliments to Mr. Hersch. I would love to hear more about cyclical rates of crime, especially as they relate to gang crime.
On the Editor’s Note ...
Vigorous debate of public issues is fundamental to democracy dating back to our Athenian roots. We must not abdicate problem solving to civic leaders. Consensus must come after lively public debate. The tragedy of 9/11 inhibited public debate about Iraq, leading to a disastrous war. These tragic deaths should not be misused by politicians nor cause critics to abdicate their civic duties.
These tragedies lead to gun control discussion. I believe we do need more. I think the issue of the types of guns, whether assault weapon or not, should be taken off the political negotiating table. We only have felony conviction as a tool, and we need much more IMO. The prior actions of this creep should qualify him, or someone else like him, not to own a gun(s). I think we can do this and still keep the freedom of the Second Amendment to anyone who is a responsible citizen who keeps guns in locked storage for their only use, and I do not care if it is a machine gun or a pea shooter.
Thank you Greg Archer for the thoughtfulness of your response here to the recent violence in Santa Cruz. We are indeed a creative community, and your suggestion that we move forward toward building collective solutions (and toward healing) with a focus on non-violence is important and appreciated.