BURDICK AIDS AND ABETS AN ONGOING POLITICAL PROSECUTION
Burdick's theory was a strange one. He held that evidence that the four remaining defendants were guilty of misdemeanor"trespass after being warned to leave" (PC 602o) justified holding them for "felony vandalism".
This, even though no evidence was presented by the D.A. after 11 months that any of them vandalized.
Burdick claimed that it was a "natural and probable outcome" of four people who had allegedly been told to leave and then refused to do so. How so?
The argument, if you credit it at all, in this kind of peaceful First Amendment protest, goes better with the charge that Burdick dropped for all the defendants--602M, trespass to occupy. If proved, I suppose, it might by this tortured "aiding and abetting" argument link someone "occupying" with the damage done by someone else at some other time--since it was an "occupation". Burdick, however, dropped these charges.
But failure to leave at one point is clearly unrelated to vandalism committed by parties unknown sometime in the three day period.
As a spontaneous First Amendment demonstration, there might have been dozens of people willing to openly acknowledge and face "trespass" charges in court for a peaceful brief occupation of a 3 1/2 year vacant bank building as a matter of principle--however Bob Lee, burnishing his "law 'n order" image came back with these absurd felony conspiracy and vandalism charges. But the charges were unnecessary to begin with, because everyone left the building--peacefully.
The action, as I understood it, was taken to expose Wells Fargo and challenge the waste of vacant building space and need for a community center and homeless shelter here in Santa Cruz. These are simply facts which few dispute.
INFLATED CHARGES MARCH ON
But D.A. Lee inflated the charges with felony conspiracy and felony vandalism, presenting no evidence of either conspiracy or vandalism (by the people specifically charged). Some might suggest this shows shoddy police and D.A. work since police had the option to enter the bank and ID/detain/cite/arrest the people inside at any time during the three days. Particularly after the large crowd of people outside the bank on November 30th had dispersed. Or send in undercover cops to document the real perpetrators of vandalism.
Instead police chose to selectively target and then forward some of their least-favorite activists for prosecution to the D.A., ignoring numerous others, claiming they "couldn't identify" anyone else. And the D.A. chose to prosecute some of those least-favorite activists, ignoring some (including former Mayor Beiers whom the police had recommended for prosecution).
The whining and abusive accusations of Deputy-Chief Steve Clark denouncing Burdick seem an additional pit of clueless cacophony in this ongoing circus. Or a self-serving commotion to distract from his own department's bad decisions. See http://www.kionrightnow.com/story/20548286/po...
Once set in motion, the prosecutorial juggernaut was supposed to roll on, I guess- regardless of how crappy Clark's SCPD work was. The whole scene gives the impression of a political prosecution arranged to save the face of the SCPD, assist in intimidating the (already dispersed) Occupy Santa Cruz movement, and provide a kind of "show trial" for political activists in the to show how "tough" on direct action First Amendment activity the SCPD and their pals in Bob Lee's office could be. Allcosting far far more than the supposed damages in the building.