Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz: [link]
"Selective Enforcement of Smoking Ban, Obstruction of Video Reporting--Report to the Chief!"2014-08-02 Note from Norse [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/02/18759451.php]:
Yesterday I received a phone call from advocate John Colby reporting his account of an incident of harassment downtown at Laurel and Pacific in the early afternoon. Colby noted he'd videoed some of the incident. He forwarded me his complaint and demand for public records addressed to SCPD Police Chief Kevin Vogel. His account seems to be newsworthy and instructive though I cannot vouch for its veracity. It does seem specific and credible if backed up by video and witness accounts. It also involves Officer Azua, who has never been held to account for prior reported violence, against a woman traveler Synthia Kennedy. We'll see how Chief Vogel fields this one.
Officer Azua has been accused in the past of excessive force. Synthia
Kennedy reported a frightening experience in 2010 on Free Radio Santa
Cruz. Go to [http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100429.mp3] [1 hour and 3
minutes into the audio file] as well as
[http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb100415.mp3] [41 minutes into the audio file]
to hear her account. When approached subsequently for his comments,
Azua simply laughed.
Bill Azua of the Santa Cruz Police Department.
Videos of Officer Azua harassing four young African Americans with intent to falsely arrest
August 16, 2014
To whom it may concern:
This is video documentation of Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) Officer Bill Azua trying to intimidate, harass, discriminate, stalk and use excessive force against four young African American men to provoke them so he could falsely arrest them. Officer Azua falsely cited one young man because he "thought" he had been smoking on Pacific Avenue where smoking is banned. I was a witness...none of the young men were smoking. Officer Azua also illegally ran a check for priors for this false smoking citation, a mere municipal infraction. I have witnessed many different SCPD officers Downtown giving out smoking citations—NONE have ever ran the person for priors. I have since discovered that Officer Azua has numerous complaints for excessive force, false arrest and false detention. Sythia Kennedy is an example of this from four years ago. Robert Norse, homeless activist and journalist, documented her case against Officer Azua from that time.
[signed] Patricia Colby
** Part 1: Santa Cruz Police Racism by Officer Azua and Unidentified PO [www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYa65BTWrHU]
** Part 2: Santa Cruz Police Abuse by Officer Azua and Auders [www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vc9AwlE0kY]
** Part 3: Santa Cruz Police Racism Abuse by Officer Azua and Alders [www.youtube.com/watch?v=yryMADHx-NY]
** Part 4: Santa Cruz Police Abuse by Officer Azua [www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAdHawWKArM]
** Part 5: Santa Cruz Officer Azua Racial Based Harassment of Four Young Black Men [www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6lrML6712I]
2014-08-16 comment by Brent Adams:
I see no "abuse" in any of these videos. It is not clear, besides the man's statement, that there was no cigarette. There is also nothing besides your comments that shows racial profiling. SCPD is empowered to enforce the law and there is a no smoking law for that area. If you want to use the word "abuse," then please be sure that the video meets the criteria. This situation doesn't. It seems to showcase activists trying to catch police in something even though they are just doing routine work. To protect yourselves against being seen as crying "wolf", please reserve words such as "abuse" and "harassment" for videos that truly showcase this behavior. As one who has been vocal in such matters, I've come to realize the power of video. To me, this video is more about suspicion of authoritarian abuse than actual abuse. It does not show the activists in a good light.
Reply by Pat Colby:
Reading Mr. Adams reply I can understand why civil rights issues have gotten to the state they are in Santa Cruz County, which is too bad because the cause is really about the abuses, harassment and discrimination against poor and homeless individuals—the people that seem to fall through the safety net cracks. I would like to clear up some confusion I noticed in Mr. Adam's response.
First my brother and I are NOT "activists" we are "advocates". Advocates approach issues from a completely different angle. We protect and help people on the individual level. Some examples are going with people to doctor's appointments, interceding with social services, getting people into programs that will help them get housing and other needs. Most recently we have advocated with Santa Cruz Housing Authority to get homeless, disabled people with active vouchers extensions because it is nearly impossible to find rentals in Santa Cruz County that take Sec 8. Also I spent many hours sitting with "Scarf Lady," Kate Winzell to insure she was no longer harassed nor singled out nor cited by SC Community Service Officers and SC Police Officers for her legal vending activity on Pacific Ave.
Advocates like us work with people on a one on one basis. Activists fight for the rights of large groups of individuals and don't normally work or interact on the ground floor with single individuals; walking them through social and government agencies. Advocates like myself and my brother John, are only interested in the cause of helping—we do not seek any notoriety for ourselves. There are many issues we help on. We are happy for the people we have helped to get successes for themselves, but again it is about the advocatee not ourselves. The videos posted were done not to document abuse as much as they were taken to protect the four young mens' civil rights.
Activists like Mr. Adams has been noted for documenting abuse which is extremely different—from protecting and stopping abuse. For his hard work as an "activist" we applaud him! Mr. Adams is also not privy to all the facts before he jumped to a faulty conclusion. The individuals whom we documented with the police interaction had been harassed by this Police Officer numerous times in the past. Also resulting in complaints being put into PO Azua's file. It is obvious Mr. Adams hasn't heard the upsetting account of Synthia Kennedy's interaction, false arrest and injuries at the hands of PO Azua, other SC officers plus County Sheriffs about four years, merely for daring to buy a burrito at New Leaf Market and attempting to eat it on Pacific Ave. If an advocate had been there with a video camera I am sure things would have gone differently for this PO Azua victim!
[signed] Patricia Colby, Civil Rights Advocate
"What is the SCPD's policy about 'cop-watching'?"
2014-08-01 letter from Dr. John Colby to Kevin Vogel, Chief of Police of Santa Cruz:
Dear Chief Vogel:
am writing to serve you notice that the Santa Cruz Police Department
(SCPD) harasses "cop-watchers" protecting the civil rights of people in
protected classes like people of color which has been witnessed by my
sister and I -- but today we were able to video record this harassment.
To the point:
** This afternoon around 1:30 PM SCPD Officer Bill
Azua illegally cited an African American man -- grouped with other
African Americans -- in downtown Santa Cruz for smoking while my sister
and I observed that this man had not been smoking.
** Officer Azua
took this man aside and ran him for priors -- also illegally -- while
he was citing him for smoking. I approached Officer Azua while he was
detaining this African American man with my video camera. Officer Azua
not only refused to identify himself, but also demanded that I move
back. I asked Azua how far I needed to move back. Azua responded that I
must move so that "I [he] couldn't see me." Clearly this would prevent
me from video recording the incident. I moved back five feet then asked
Azua is that was far enough. Azua replied, "No." I moved back five more
feet. Again I asked Azua if I was far back enough. He refused to answer.
Another officer came to Azua's side and also refused to identify
himself. This incident lasted for several minutes as captured on digital
video. As the officers left I video recorded them. The unidentified
officer pointed a video camera at me.
** The African American men
walked away. Azua followed them in his car to Laurel Street fronting the
Taco Bell. He was then accompanied by SCPD Officer Ahlers from the Gang
and Drug Task force. Azua and Ahlers took an imposing stance watching
these men. I asked Officer Ahlers to identify himself. He ignored me. I
asked Officer Azua to identify himself. He refused. Azua accused me of
harassing them. I asked him if asking for identification constituted
harassment. He replied that me talking to police officers when they
didn't want to speak with me constituted harassment.
** A Pacific
Ave, Taco Bell employee walked past Azua while smoking a cigarette. Azua
did nothing. After I began video recording this employee, she became
angry and began speaking with Azua while she had a burning cigarette in
her hand. Azua did not cite her for smoking a cigarette -- she was
Caucasian. The manager of the Taco Bell demanded that I stop video
recording his employees from the public sidewalk. I informed him this
was legal. He implied that he would have Officer Azua take action
against me if I continued to video record.
** Minutes later my
sister was on the telephone with SCPD Sergeant Jones. this sergeant
defended Azua's demand that I move out of sight while video recording.
In response to my question about how far "cop-watchers" should be from
SCPD officers while video recording, Jones replied 40-50 feet. I
responded that this was too far, that it would prevent any audio
recording. I asked Jones what statute or policy supported this. He said
it was his "opinion".
** Officer Azua and another Police Officer
in another car continued to circle around the area, following these
African American men, apparently to harass them
clarify the demands and opinions of Azua and Jones, I am making a
request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). I ask for:
* the most current documents which describe the SCPD's policies about citizens (video) recording SCPD personnel.
If these records are available electronically, then I ask that they be
made available to me electronically. I am willing to pay a fee of up to
$5 for this request.
Thank you for providing me records which will shed light on what happened today.
[signed] John E. Colby, Ph.D.
SCPD PRA RESPONSE
From: Jacqueline Drechsler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM
Subject: SCPD PRA Response - Subject: What is the SCPD's policy about "cop-watching"?
To: "John Colby"
The SCPD does not have any responsive records to your request.
Thank you, [signed] Jacqui Drechsler