FRESH DIRT > Local students speak their minds at Occupy Santa CruzTuesday night, Nov. 15, was a big night for many protestors occupying the land around the Santa Cruz Superior Courthouse on Water Street. Everyone seemed slightly on edge about the prospect of cops coming through at any point to take down the dome that sits in front of the courthouse steps. Nine people were prepared to chain themselves to the dome when that time came, including fourth-year UC Santa Cruz student Tom O’Leary, who has been camping out near the river by the courthouse for the past few weeks.
“The geodesic dome is the most important structure in the camp because of what it represents,” O’Leary says. “It stands for unity and solidarity. Each separate joint that makes up the framework of the dome symbolizes each occupation that is going on right now.”
Other students there were excitedly talking with each other, exchanging stories about what the Santa Cruz police had recently done to try and break up the camp. Second-year Austin Bruckner, a UCSC student who doesn’t camp at the courthouse but comes out as many nights as he can, tells GT about his recent arrest in the early morning prior to Tuesday night.
“I was walking by a squad car in the parking lot [of the courthouse] with a friend and all of the sudden this officer comes out and accuses us of tampering with the car,” he says. “He then forcefully throws me against the car and cuffs me. I was detained for 10 and a half hours.”
Bruckner and other protestors are trying to gather footage from security cameras to examine the event more closely. Like many of their fellow protestors, they seem very focused on standing up to the police.
“[The police] definitely try and intimidate us when they drive by and walk through. It’s all psychological. It’s also a big distraction,” says Cabrillo student Nicholas Adams. “The things that really matter about this protest are educating people and getting the message out there that our community is safe and positive.”
Bruckner believes the movement is meant to be an example of a “more compassionate and more democratic” society. “Unfortunately, we lost a lot of support recently because of fights that have broken out among some of the people camping here and also because of the presence of drug dealers,” he says. “We need to repair the damage now. People don’t feel too safe about coming out here anymore and we could definitely use more representation.”
As another squad car drives by, the protestors call out to it, yelling obscenities such as “F*cking pigs!” By now, it’s two in the morning, yet nobody shows any sign of losing energy. They are committed to staying in front of the courthouse.
As the cop drives out of sight, O’Leary smiles at me, as if to say, “Bring it. We aren’t going anywhere.”