On Monday, February 13
, the Santa Cruz Police Department organized a raid with the Departmen
t of Homeland Security for gang members in both Santa Cruz and Live Oak.
While I am thankful that no one was hurt and that several dangerous gang members have been removed from our community, I am not comfortable with the way in which this law enforcement action was carried out in our community.
This military style operation involved flash bombs, armored vehicles and helicopters.
The impact of this "invasion" has been widespread and required quick action to support members of our community.
Within days of the event, I helped organize a "Know Your Rights" training with the Live Oak School District and the Santa Cruz Immigration Project. With over 80 people in attendance, participants heard from local lawyers, the health centers, the Human Resources Department and the Sheriff, about what are their rights and what they can expect when dealing with the school, the County, and other community-based organizations. The Sheriff reiterated his support for working with the community and suggested other ways that we can keep dangerous criminals off the streets without involving the federal government. I highlighted the recent resolution passed unanimously at the board that prevents the use of County funds to do the work of immigration agencies. Most importantly, people got to ask specific questions about how to protect the care of their children, their homes, what to expect in interacting with local law enforcement, and concerns about safety in accessing local services.
We have seen the impact in the large number of cancelled appointments at the health centers, domestic violence agencies and even some cancelling their food assistance programs with the County. Additional efforts to help answer questions will occur when Community Bridges holds a rights workshop on March 22
nd and the Soquel School District hosts an information night on March 27