*Update as of Monday at 6:20 p.m.: According to Alexis Briggs, defense attorney for Cameron Laurendeau, court will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. for continued testimony. Anticipated completion of testimony is Tuesday afternoon, and it is hoped that the judge will be able to also deliver a decision as to whether or not the case will go to trial. Check Patch tomorrow evening for a recap of tomorrow's proceedings.
On Monday at 9 a.m., seven of the remaining "Santa Cruz 11" appeared in front of Judge Paul P. Burdick at the Santa Cruz Courthouse for their preliminary hearing.
The seven defendants face various charges for their alleged involvement with the occupation of a
In April, Judge Burdick dropped charges against four of the original 11 arrested after the occupation of 75 River Street.
The seven defendants that remain are: Brent Adams, Franklin "Angel" Alcantara, Desiree Foster, Becky Johnson, Robert Norris Kahn (also known as Robert Norse,) Gabriella Ripley-Phipps and Cameron Laurendeau.
Each of them faces four charges: felony conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, felony vandalism, misdemeanor trespass by entering and occupying, and misdemeanor trespass by refusing to leave private property.
On Monday morning, after an extra table was brought out to accommodate all seven of the defendants' lawyers, the trial began with testimony by Lieutenant Larry Richard of the Santa Cruz Police Department.
Lt. Richard was in charge of communicating with the protesters over the three days that they were occupying the building. He also placed flyers on the front doors to warn the protesters that they were trespassing, and outlined his communications by phone and in person with Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, the main liason for the protesters.
Sergeant Mike Harms of the Santa Cruz Police Department also testified, having witnessed the initial take-over of the building with about five other Santa Cruz Police Officers.
"The crowd was very emotionally charged, there was a lot of searing, a lot of anger, derogatory things directed at the police officers," Harms said, describing the scene in which protesters outside of the bank cheered on those who had entered the bank and barricaded the doors with furniture.
When the police officers dispersed, he says the protesters followed, "chanting and screaming like they just won the super bowl," said Harms.
Later, Grant Wilson, 56, one of the original Santa Cruz 11, pointed out that the court referenced 50 black-clad riot police, which were the main reason for the crowd's anger, he says.
Video footage was shown during the preliminary hearing, and Judge Burdick will decide if financial sanctions should be imposed upon the prosecution for delays in turning over the video footage.
Dozens of friends, family members, and supporters of the Occupy Santa Cruz movement came out to show their support for the defendants.
"I'm here because I feel a lot of compassion for the people that I know that are innocent and probably losing sleep and going through this not very pleasant process," said Wilson, whose charges were dropped back in April.
Wilson says its a nerve wracking process, even when you know you are innocent, because that doesn't guarantee anything in today's justice system: plenty of innocent people serve time in jail.
Brent Adams, defendant, thinks the whole trial is a farce.
"We're standing tall, and we're in solidarity. These charges are a scape goat," said Adams. "Becky Johnson never went in the building, and that's clear in all the evidence, so that indicates what they're really after, they're just attacking activists and reporters and they didn't actually do an investigation into who went in to the building. There's 30 hours of video, and 1,000 photographs that show all kinds of people, so it's a farce," he said.
According to local activist Mark Peabody, 52, the trial revealed in earlier proceedings that hundreds of people passed through 75 River Street building.
"And yet only 11 were chosen to prosecute. That's kind of the worst thing about this wold deal, is that it was really strange and nonsensical how they chose 11 out of hundreds of people passing through," he said, pointing out that the Mayor and a city council member also passed through the building.
Attorney Alexis Briggs comments on the selection process of the eleven defendants:
"My understanding is that the sole basis for charging these eleven with the $28,000 of alleged damage is based on the fact that they were able to be identified by law enforcement. For some of the defendants that's based on prior contact, or efforts to resolve the situation, or some other opportunity to identify them, and having nothing to do with their particular conduct," said Briggs.
Becky Johnson, defendant, says she was making breakfast on Feb, 2011 when two sheriffs, a police officer and a detective showed up at her house and arrested her.
"And I spent the night in jail. I never entered the building and I was very surprised to be charged for anything since I had so little to do with the take over of 75 River Street, other than I thought it was an awesome action. That building has been sitting there for three years absolutely empty, and apparently Wells Fargo has no intention of leasing that building ever... A community center would be much more useful," said Johnson.
"There's been really no testimony about me at all being seen in the building in any of the three days, of course in my case we have to wait for officer Winston to testify, he's the only officer that claims he saw me go in the building. Since i never went in the building we're going to dispute that," said Johnson.
It's not just the defendants that are optimistic, either, their lawyers appear to be hopeful too.
"Based on the evidence that has been presented so far, I am confident that there will not be any evidence tying any of these defendants to any vandalism, and that the evidence so far shows that my client, at no point remained on the premises after being informed by law enforcement that remaining on the property would be trespassing," said Alexis Briggs, attorney for Cameron Laurendeau.