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This group has one goal and one goal only: To make the streets of Santa Cruz safe and free from drugs, gangs and abusive behavior. We accept everyone and anyone who want to achieve this goal. We don't care about your race, nationality, color, creed, sexual orientation, age or political leanings. We support the Santa Cruz Police Department. We support our emergency services. We support the Santa Cruz fire department. We are about action. This is the time to TAKE BACK Santa Cruz.1
|P.O. Box 7028, Santa Cruz, CA 95060|
|(Name of Executive Director here)|
|Dexter & Analicia Lesnowicz Cube, Pamela Comstock, Heather Lesnowicz Babock, Heather's husband Ian Blake Babcock|
|(Please fill in FEIN or Tax ID, if known)|
Take Back Santa Cruz (TBSC) is a community group that fights crime and supports the emergency agencies located within the Santa Cruz area. The organization has organized 'positive loitering' events, park clean-ups, a toys for tots drive, and 'night activism'. They have also sponsored talks, including a Santa Cruz City Council candidates forum in 2010. In 2011, the Santa Cruz Sentinel featured TBSC in a series of articles about the significant local newsmakers of 2010, and that article referred to the group's "growing local clout" due to all eight city council candidates having been in attendence at the event.2 Supporters feel that the group effectively fights crime and is an attempt to help improve the quality of life in the area. As they note at the top of their blog: "We are learning what it takes to Take Back Santa Cruz. We are winning."3 In 2011 Analicia Cube, who was listed as a founder of TBSC in a 2011 Good Times article, received a Nextie award from Santa Cruz Next for her involvement in TBSC, and later in the year Take Back Santa Cruz was voted as the best activist group in the 2011 Good Times 'best of' readers poll.
TBSC's positive loitering events are based on similar ones that took place in Chicago in 2009.
Critique of Group
Community Polarization and Surveillance TBSC's actions have created polarization locally, and critics of the group are numerous. At one positive loitering event, a counter-protest was waged against TBSC. One sign carried by the group opposed to TBSC read, "talk to each other, not cops."4 TBSC has made the surveillance of community members (and public places) part of their function. In a May 2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel article, they were described as surveiling the areas around Pogonip, Harvey West Park, and River Street, taking video footage of suspected drug dealers.5 A Sentinel article from July of 2010 describes how a TBSC "camera crew" visited Lighthouse Field with park rangers during a park cleanup to "document" the "problems" there.6 In 2011, Analicia Cube described in an interview how TBSC was, "hiding in bushes and calling cops."12
Facts Vs. Opinion The Lighthouse Field cleanup also raised another important point, are TBSC's actions and concepts based on proven facts or are they more speculative? Members of TBSC advocated for an end to the leash law at the park. Analicia Cube who is a dog walker who stopped walking her dog in the area, was quoted as saying, "Whenever you pull the community out of an area, then this illegal activity is going to flourish," while the State Parks superintendent assigned to the county's beaches, Kirk Lingenfelter said the crime problem there was, "not the result of fewer dogs; it's the result of having a 36-acre field in the middle of West Cliff Drive."6 In 2011, without citing any specific report or study, Analicia Cube called Pogonip, "the biggest heroin distribution center in the state, possibly the country."12 In 2010 TBSC supported, along with other organizations in the community, the buliding of a bike trail through Pogonip as an effort to fight the heroin problem there. People on the other side of this issue argue that the public bike trail that exists on the San Lorenzo River has not solved the crime problem there. The San Lorenzo River and the trail there has also been the location of multiple TBSC cleanups and positive loitering events.
Do the Numbers Add Up? The way TBSC reports its membership numbers has raised some controversy. At the top of their main website TBSC states that, "TBSC was founded by your community willing to take action against criminal and abusive behavior. Since then, literally thousands of Santa Cruz residents have spoken up with enthusiastic support and a willingness to help realize a vision based on community, inspiration, and action."7 Those involved with TBSC often cite their large Facebook group membership, which maxed out at 5000, as an acurate membership count. In a 2011 article, the Santa Cruz Sentinel described the growth of TBSC in terms of its Facebook membership (A growth of 2,300 to 4,600 members in 20102), but in a Sentinel opinion piece written by TBSC member Heather Babcock in 2010, TBSC's membership was described by her as "more than 15 percent of the community."8 Apparently both the Sentinel and TBSC play loose in reporting the membership numbers, and critics have suggested that not all of the people who joined TBSC's Facebook group are even from Santa Cruz. In 2011, TBSC's Twitter account attracted a mere 8 followers after its first several months in existence.
In 2010 the group Give Back Santa Cruz was founded on Facebook by Wes Modes as "Take Back Santa Cruz for Everyone."9 In early 2011 the Give Back Santa Cruz group's online membership was over 500 (though the group in April 2013 showed 14 members). In the summer of 2011, Take Back Santa Cruz updated their website, adding a content tab labeled "Give Back," that, when clicked, led to a post titled, "Give Back to Santa Cruz," which led to basic information about TBSC.13 Up until that point, the TBSC website had no mention of "giving back."
Emmanuel P. Cube In a 2010 Santa Cruz Indymedia article titled Was Tough-on-Crime Take Back Santa Cruz Founded by a Corporate Criminal?, the article points to two U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website links that implicate an Emmanuel P. Cube in corporate criminal activity, and those writing on Indymedia claim that Emmanuel Cube is also known as Dexter Cube, husband of Analicia Cube and co-founder of TBSC. Critics cite Cube's possibly criminal past as problematic, given his involvement with TBSC.
Disturbing Homeless Camps and Property The discussion in response to the Emmanuel Cube article is lively, and Robert Norse makes some thoughtful observations. His view is that Cube's criminal past is irrelevant; he felt that at issue was TBSC's status as a "functionally anti-homeless group."10 In a 2011 Santa Cruz Indymedia article, Norse goes into detail about how he believes TBSC's actions affect the homeless and compares the process to, "'clean-up's' and 'loiter-in's' in the past which similarly use the language of safety and community while declining to advise their participants not to destroy homeless property and homeless camps."11
Influencing Other Vigilante Related Behavior Locally In July of 2011, A flier was distibuted on the westside of Santa Cruz that "warned" local residents that a house had opened that would be serving people with drug and alcohol related problems. The flier used intolerant language when referring to the people who sought counseling and alleged they were criminals. The flier listed Take Back Santa Cruz as a group to contact.14 TBSC board member Heather Babcock denied the group had any direct involvement.
In an April 10, 2013 Good Times article briefly mentions a story about Frank Smith, in which Smith claims to have been repeatedly harassed and photographed by TBSC members. Specifically he claims that TBSC members have photographed and posted photos of the RV in which he lives onto the TBSC webpage. Further he claimed that a man and a woman accosted him in his vehicle while screaming profanities at him. They told him that he needed to leave town since they paid a lot of money for their house. For their part, though TBSC's code of conduct prohibits vigilante behaviour, TBSC admits that there have been threads in which supposedly suspicious RV's are featured and members are allowed and encouraged to surveil people and offer perceptions and analysis as to their suspect's criminality.
In a May 12, 2012 Santa Cruz Sentinel article, it was reported that at an order to show cause hearing, a woman argued that group had posted photos of her vehicle on their Facebook page and made derogatory comments in emails and group newsletters.
That group, Garfield Neighbors, is an affiliate of Santa Cruz Neighbors, focusing on public safety issues in the neighborhood. Members work with business owners, city officials, the police department and other community groups like Take Back Santa Cruz.
A December 11, 2012 article in the Santa Cruz Good Times Magazine titled "Searching for Safety", presented Dylan Greiner's affiliation with Take Back Santa Cruz. An August 19, 2013 article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel titled "SCPD: Probe into surf instructor's lewd acts case could go to the feds" stated the following, "Greiner, owner of Santa Cruz Surf School, was arrested Friday on suspicion of two felony charges of lewd acts with children. He is expected to be arraigned Wednesday and remained in Santa Cruz County Jail on Monday in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to jail records."
Questions about who really runs TBSC and how open access is to it. TBSC was founded and is run by a small group of relatives. Analicia Cube is married to Dexter and she is the main spokesperson for the group. Analicia's sister is Heather Babcock, Heather's husband is Ian Babcock. Analicia's cousin is Craig Comstock whose wife is Pamela Comstock who as a result of helping start TBSC is now a member of the Santa Cruz City Council. There are no meetings per se for the group, group action is coordinated through both a mailing list and the private/closed FaceBook group. Overall policy and admin of the group seems to be set by the group founders. Though anyone can suggest an idea for the group, the founders and admins have final say about what flies or not, this is a top down organization, their decision is the final one and discussion is often missing.
TBSC Mission statement regarding open membership and diversity of opinion are a farce. TBSC lists in it's mission statement "We accept everyone and anyone who want to achieve this goal. We don't care about your race, nationality, color, creed, sexual orientation, age or political leanings." The claim that they accept everyone and anyone is inaccurate. The Facebook portion of the group is closed. In order to gain access to the group you have to seek approval via a request to the admins. People who have FB profiles that suggest a history of being too liberal or progressive may never have their request acted upon and thus are never accepted into the group. Furthermore, once a member of the Facebook group if you voice an opinion or share a viewpoint that is in opposition to what the group admins want to hear, believe, promote, you can be kicked out of the group. People have been removed and banned from the group for simply suggesting dialogue with other community groups or for asking questions about policies and strategies.
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- 1http://www.takebacksantacruz.com/about-us, retrieved on July 8, 2011.
- 22010 Newsmakers: Anti-crime group Take Back Santa Cruz grows in ranks, clout, by J.M. Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2, 2011
- 3http://takebacksantacruz.blogspot.com/, retrieved on February 21, 2011
- 4Third 'positive loitering' event in Santa Cruz stirs debate, by Alia Wilson, Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 27, 2010, retrieved on June 19, 2010
- 5Heroin Highway - Taking Back Harvey West, by J.M. Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 21, 2010, retrieved on June 19, 2010
- 6Groups collaborate for Lighthouse Field clean-up: Volunteers to shine spotlight on illegal activity, by J.M. Brown, Santa cruz Sentinel, July 8, 2010
- 7http://www.takebacksantacruz.com/, retrieved on February 21, 2011
- 8Heather Babcock: Take Back Santa Cruz focused on making city safer, by Heather Babcock, Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 4, 2010
- 9Give Back Santa Cruz, retrieved on February 20, 2011
- 10http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/06/02/18649646.php?show_comments=1#18650032, by Robert Norse, Santa Cruz Indymedia, June 6, 2010
- 11Back Again and Stalking the Community in Progressive Garb, by Robert Norse, Santa Cruz Indymedia, February 13, 2011
- 12Community Cleans Up Pogonip, by Alex Hubner, Santa Cruz Patch, August 29, 2011, retrieved on Sept 8, 2011.
- 13http://takebacksantacruz.com/category/give-back/, retrieved on Sept 8, 2011.
- 14Flier ruffles feathers near Westside rehab house, by Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 3, 2011, retrieved on Sept 8, 2011.
- And The Nextie Goes To, by Linda Koffman, Good Times, January 19, 2011
- Was Tough-on-Crime Take Back Santa Cruz Founded by a Corporate Criminal?, by Postive Loiterer, June, 2010
- http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-10-20/news/0910200161_1_loitering-uptown-residents Article about positive loitering in Chicago
- Video: Take Back Santa Cruz members discuss their Friday night program "Night Activism"
- Community Organizations
- Street Crime
2011-02-20 23:14:59 "Robert Norse makes great observations"? HAHA! Okay, list SC Wiki as another hack site. CHECK! What a joke. Try as you might. TBSC is going to keep working for the safety and peace of ALL people no matter their race, economic status or defining characteristics. We are not going away. Mainly because we are from here. Our families are in the dirt, walking the streets and yet to come. If anyone REALLY want's a definition of TBSC go to an event with your heart and mind open. —188.8.131.52
2011-02-23 17:19:02 Hahaha. Boo hoo. Waaaah. I want my mommy. Hahaha. Go find something real to do losers. I think you just inspired me...yes you did. Thank you! Once again you never disappoint. Weeeeeeeee! —184.108.40.206