FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT: Cages Kill! — Freedom Rally & March

WHEN: Saturday, January 24th @ 12 Noon

WHERE: Noon at the Clocktower, Downtown Santa Cruz (Water St. & Pacific Ave.)

Contact: sinbarras@gmail.com

Tash Nguyen 408.499.7912

Courtney Hanson 916.316.0625

SANTA CRUZ, CA—

At least 6 people have died in the Santa Cruz County Jail since August 2012 while in the hands of the Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG). In light of the most recent death in November, Sin Barras is organizing a demonstration this Saturday, co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and Project: Pollinate. Sin Barras states that the purpose of the protest is to raise awareness around the deaths, to highlight the broader context of overcrowding and lack of healthcare inside California jails and prisons, and create a space for community empowerment. As an abolitionist organization, Sin Barras seeks reforms that fit into a larger project of halting jail expansion across the state of California and investing in community-based alternatives.

After a year-long investigation of these deaths, prompted by public criticism and concern, the Santa Cruz Grand Jury released a report including recommendations to improve physical and mental health conditions in the jail. One of the Grand Jury’s conclusions was that CFMG staff failed to identify and treat symptoms of methadone overdose, and had insufficient oversight and treatment facilities for people in the supposedly monitored units. The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG have publicly disagreed with almost all the findings of the report, and since then, another person has died.

In coordination with local, national, and international organizations, Sin Barras is mobilizing to demand that:

1. The Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with California Forensic Medical Group.

2. The Sheriff’s Department and CFMG accept responsibility for the unnatural deaths and implement the Grand Jury recommendations to expand Crisis Intervention Team mental health services.

3. Solitary confinement/administrative segregation and other forms of torture, such as the “restraint chair,” be abolished.

4. The County cancel the $24.6 million planned expansion of Rountree Detention Center and invest in community-based social services.

Sin Barras and their allies, including formerly incarcerated people and people who have lost loved ones inside the jail, argue that Santa Cruz needs to step up its efforts to expand alternatives to incarceration. The County should immediately cease its use of torture in the jail, particularly the practice of solitary confinement and use of the “restraint chair.” Paul Spector, RN and former employee of the California Department of Corrections, states that while manufacturer instructions say the chair is “not to be used for punishment… it’s only use is punishment, and sometimes death.”

At the rally, speakers will share personal stories that shed light on the violence of the prison system and strategies for building alternative forms of justice, including Fox Sloan, mother of Amanda Fox Sloan, who died in the jail July of 2013.

“Once our loved ones are incarcerated, we are shoved out of the picture, and our concern and care becomes irrelevant and annoying to those operating the jail. The jail as it is, is woefully ill-equipped to provide the care each individual needs. Many people need help and healing, options and avenues for restoration to a peaceful and positive life–not punishment for situations beyond their control, where they have suffered and are trying to survive,” said Sloan.

###

freedomrally

Cages Kill! Freedom Rally!

 January 24, 2015 | Noon at the Santa Cruz Downtown Clock Tower

Update 1/15: Check out Willow Katz and Courtney Hanson of Sin Barras on the national Sojourner Truth radio show this morning discussing jail deaths and the upcoming Cages Kill demonstration!

At least 6 people have died in the county jail while in the hands of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG) since August 2012. In April 2013, Sin Barras organized a historic march and speakout, highlighting sheriff violence faced by people inside the County Jail that inspired the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury to investigate the jail’s deadly conditions. The grand jury report named the April 6th demonstration as a primary catalyst for the investigation. In September 2014, the Grand Jury released its Final Report, which included recommendations to improve physical and mental health services in the jail. Nearly all of the research was met with utter denial from the Sheriff‘s Department and CFMG, continuing a trend of disrespect for the community and confirming that they operate with little to no accountability.

Sin Barras is organizing a demonstration on January 24th to demand immediate medical and safety measures be met to reduce harm faced by those presently incarcerated. We demand that the County Board of Supervisors cancel its contract with CFMG and refuse to participate in the current wave of county jail expansion. These deaths are an act of collective punishment against people who are most in need of aid, and who are consistently denied community-based resources and drug treatment. While we fight for immediate solutions, we do so with a commitment to dismantling the prison system once and for all, brick by brick, wall by wall. The deaths in the jail are caused by the same pattern of unaccountability that recently allowed Officer Darren Wilson to walk free after killing Michael Brown. From Ferguson to Santa Cruz, it is clear that our criminal justice system targets the most vulnerable members of this society: women, trans and queer people, people of color, people with disabilities, the poor, and the homeless. Without overwhelming pressure from our communities, this pattern will continue. “The ideas which can and will sustain our movement for total freedom and dignity of the people cannot be imprisoned, for they are to be found in the people, all the people, wherever they are.” – Huey P. Newton Updates will be ongoing // here’s what you can do right now: – Write a letter of solidarity with your organization

  • Distribute through your networks & email to: sinbarras@gmail.com

– Spread the word on Facebook! – Co-sponsor the action & attend planning meetings!

  • For meeting time and location, email: sinbarras@gmail.com

_________________________________________________________________

Co-sponsored by: Sin Barras, Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), Project Pollinate, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Santa Cruz

Endorsed by: Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh, PA; Bettina Aptheker, UCSC, for purposes of identification; Cabrillo College Justice League; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; California Families Against Solitary Confinement; Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Direct Action Monterey Network; Family of Frank Alvarado Jr., killed by Salinas Police, July 10, 2014; Food Not Bombs; Freedom Archives; Global Women’s Strike and Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike; Haiti Action Committee; Human Rights Coalition (HRC)-Fed Up!, Pittsburgh, PA; International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ); Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign, Pittsburgh, PA; Justice for Palestinians; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; George Lippman, Vice-Chair, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, for purposes of identification; the MOVE Organization and Ramona Africa; National Boricua Human Rights Network; Dylcia Pagán, former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner held in US prison; Payday Men’s Network; Peak Women; Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC); Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSSC); Rabbi Borukh Goldberg; San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper; South Bay/Santa Cruz Facilitators group of the Pachamama Alliance; Queer Strike; Suppressed Histories Archives (Max Dashu); Bato Talamantez; US PROStitutes Collective; Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, All of Us or None, Payday Men’s Network, Darlene Wallach; Donna Wallach.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.27.17 PM

A Testament to the Deep Fragmentation

Written for Viewpoint Magazine, October 2014

Sin Bar­ras is a prison abo­li­tion group based in Santa Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia. We are not a reg­is­tered non-profit, receive no gov­ern­ment or foun­da­tion fund­ing, and are unstaffed. We say this imme­di­ately because we are orga­niz­ing in a moment of neolib­eral non-profits and con­stant co-optation, so “grass­roots” does not get the point across.

We are cel­e­brat­ing a recent vic­tory that has improved med­ical con­di­tions and treat­ment inside the Santa Cruz County Main Jail. Our cel­e­bra­tion is not an end­point, but a moment of re-invigorated energy, which we are using to reflect on our strate­gies and learn our next steps. We are try­ing to hold sys­tems of incred­i­ble vio­lence account­able and at the same time are work­ing to ren­der them obso­lete. But one clear take­away is that a mil­i­tantand community-oriented direct action led to a year-long grand jury inves­ti­ga­tion of the inhu­mane con­di­tions in our local jail. Of course the work con­tin­ues, because we know deeply that the jail itself is inhumane. (more…)

justice_frank-alvarado_salinas_4_7-12-14

Ni Una Muerte Más, Justice For Frank Alvarado Jr. & All Killed By Salinas Police Department

Statement read at Salinas demonstration August 17th, 2014

Sin Barras (Spanish for “Without Prison Bars”) is a Santa Cruz grassroots organization to abolish prisons and support prisoners’ rights and struggles, part of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).

Frank Alvarado Jr., murdered by the Salinas Police Department on July 10, was a member of Sin Barras. We met him in April in Watsonville, at the annual Walk to Stop the Silence against childhood sexual abuse. He signed a petition to stop jail and prison expansion and a letter to stop retaliation against CA Prisoner Hunger Strikers who are fighting the torture of long-term solitary confinement and for better conditions. He talked about having been locked up for eleven years and getting out and working to heal from prison trauma. The next week he joined us, spoke openly about his experiences inside and outside of prison, and worked for healing, resources, and rights for Formerly Incarcerated Persons. He took great joy in encouraging and helping everyone he met. (more…)

frank-alvarado-protest-salinas-16

An Open Letter to the Organizers of “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

To Dr. Pushpa Iyer, Professor Edward Laurance and anyone else it may concern:

On October 9th, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin is scheduled to speak on a panel titled “Police Legitimacy in Communities of Color” presented by the Center for Conflict Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Under Chief McMillin’s command, four unarmed Salinas community members — all Latino men — were shot and killed by officers in a span of four months. Between March and July of 2014, Salinas police officers shot and murdered Angel Ruiz, Carlos Mejia, Osman Hernandez, and our dear friend and activist Frank Alvarado. Mejia and Hernandez were allegedly shot because officers felt threatened by work tools that they were carrying. Ruiz had a pellet gun, and Alvarado had a cell phone.

We believe it is unethical and disrespectful to give Chief McMillin such a privileged voice in a space that is uncritical of his department’s policies and the violence he has continually justified. None of the community activists, family and friends of the murdered men were invited to present on the panel and likely view the space as hostile — given that they would have had to sit across from the person ultimately responsible for these deaths. (more…)

10686924_736666996382612_5797663313065461744_n

Our Letter to the Editor at the Sacramento Bee

Last week, Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) came to Santa Cruz to facilitate a Letter to the Editor Training. We collectively wrote a letter at the training, Courtney submitted it, and it got published! Check it out:

Cut health care costs by cutting incarceration

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2014 – 8:09 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 12, 2014 – 10:48 am

Re “Health costs for counties with influx of inmates” (The Public Eye, Sept. 8): Thank you, Brad Branan, for writing a piece that illuminates the disastrous difficulty of asking county jails to provide adequate mental health treatment.

Our county jails are hemorrhaging. For Jerry Brown, realignment has meant the literal shift from prison overcrowding to jail overcrowding.

Let’s make sure we don’t make the same mistake that was made when the state decided to build its health care prison in Stockton, which proved to be a $900 million disaster. To cut health care costs, we must cut incarceration by responding to the War on Drugs as a medical crisis, rather than a criminal issue.

This looks like investing in community-based treatment centers that have a long-term vision of quality healthcare for everyone.

– Courtney Hanson, Santa Cruz

Oct. 2 – A Racial Justice & Equity Event

Sin Barras, The Pachamama Alliance, and the Resource Center for Nonviolence is co-sponsoring a ‘Racial Justice & Equity Event‘ with the Santa Cruz County Coalition to End Racism on Thursday October 2nd:

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.45.36 PM
The event will expose the disastrous impact of Mass Incarceration and the “War on Drugs” on impoverished communities,and Communities of Color. We will address Racism in its institutional and structural forms through screening Michelle Alexander’s lecture: “The New Jim Crow” Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

We will begin with a short introduction describing Four Techniques for Revealing Racism, and the Four Levels of Racism, Personal, Interpersonal, Institutional, and Structural.

Protestors Confront Salinas Police Chief at Bookstore Appearance in Santa Cruz

by Alex Darocy of Santa Cruz Indymedia

To send a strong message that “killer cops” are not welcome in Santa Cruz, community members gathered on August 26 to protest a speaking engagement at Bookshop Santa Cruz featuring Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin. “We are creating a public presence to say loud and clear that the Salinas police chief who oversaw the killings of four Latino men in four months is not welcome in our community,” read a flyer provided by Sin Barras, the Santa Cruz-based organization that called for the demonstration.

Between March and July of this year, four individuals have been killed by officers with the Salinas Police Department.

Outside of the book shop, which is located in downtown Santa Cruz, one demonstrator held a sign that declared, “Salinas: Our Ferguson.”

lori

Several dozen individuals attended the protest, with some traveling from Salinas and other areas in Monterey County to make their voices heard. Organizers say they did not intend to disrupt the speaking event.

Six uniformed Santa Cruz police officers were present at the book shop for security, as was SCPD Deputy Chief Rick Martinez, who personally escorted Chief McMillan in and out of the building and was his driver.

Another sign held by demonstrators read: “Chief McMillin cannot speak for peace while justifying police murder.”

McMillin was invited to speak at Bookshop Santa Cruz by Monterey Herald reporter Julia Reynolds as part of a signing event for her book “Blood in the Fields.” According to the shop’s website, the book documents the history of Operation Black Widow, “the FBI’s questionable decade-long effort to dismantle Nuestra Familia [a criminal organization], along with its compromised informants and the turf wars it created with local law enforcement agencies.” (more…)

Killer Cops Not Welcome -Salinas Police Chief in Santa Cruz this Tuesday

mckillin2

Murderers not welcome in our town!

This Tuesday Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin will be in Santa Cruz for an event at Bookshop Santa Cruz featuring Julia Reynolds and her book “Blood in the Fields.”

We are creating a public presence to say LOUD AND CLEAR that the Salinas police chief who oversaw the killings of four Latino men in four months is not welcome in our community.

Kelly McKillin’ has been actively justifying the murders, one of which took our dear friend and fellow activist Frank Alvarado.

***Bring signs, banners, your friends and fam & meet in front of the entrance! If you have questions, feel free to contact Sin Barras via email: sinbarras@gmail.com

Facebook event here.

Official event description here.

Incredibly racist & patronizing piece recently written by the chief here.

Sin Barras statement about Frank’s murder here.