Santa Cruz business owner Helbard Alkhassadeh is trying to plaster the town in black and white.
Alkhassadeh has been handing out "WE SUPPORT OUR POLICE" posters to downtown businesses in the wake of the shooting deaths of two veteran Santa Cruz police detectives Tuesday afternoon.
Alkhassadeh, who owns Mockingbird Photography on Mission Street, printed more than 100 white posters with bold black letters and started going door-to-door Thursday offering them to shopkeepers.
“When I was handing them to people and they were like ‘Oh yes,’ they were getting so excited," Alkhassadeh said. “It’s all you can do right now. You’re trying to do whatever you possibly can to try to make yourself feel better or involved, and if you can just put up a black and white sign and it makes you feel like you’re doing something. It helps.”
Santa Cruz police officers returned to duty Friday morning following a department-wide two-day bereavement leave.
Most of the signs are posted now. Alkahassadeh said he will print more.
Alkhassadeh fielded requests for the signs via a Facebook page he runs: Stab Santa Cruz. That's also where he shared information the deadly officer shootings to more than 900 followers in real time, using scanner traffic, tweets and media reports.
The site, launched in 2008, was intended to draw attention to violence in Santa Cruz. Alkhassadeh admits the name doesn't convey the seriousness of the information; it was the hook to draw people in.
"It’s turned into a serious thing that people are kind of relying on or going to," he said. "I’m not a journalist, I’m not a news agency so I’m not trying to sell ads. Its just to get information out and to make people aware so they know that there’s a problem that needs to be resolved.”
When tragedy struck Santa Cruz this week, Alkhassadeh felt people trying to do anything they could show support for the Police Department and mourn the fallen officers.
“I wasn’t sure how or who was going to do anything like this because people were just starting to print out images of the badge with the black line on it off of Facebook and putting it up," Alkhassadeh said.
He produced the "Support" posters to make the effort consistent and has been hand-delivering them to business that ask for them. One request came in from 2,000 miles away, but Alkhassadeh said he's trying to keep the signs local for now and hopes to blanket the city before the memorial motorcade for Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler rolls into Santa Cruz next week.
To get a sign, email email@example.com.
Have a "WE SUPPORT OUR POLICE" poster? Share photos of SCPD support in the community. Add them to this photo gallery.