Response to Vandalism of BLM Mural in Downtown Santa Cruz

Response to Vandalism of BLM Mural in Downtown Santa Cruz

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Debra Feldstein started this petition to Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey S. Rosell and

“To make real and impactful change, we must turn our gaze inward to do the essential Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion  work within our communities and ourselves. Deep-rooted transformation cannot be achieved until we commit to this internal antiracist work on both the community and individual levels.” - Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

We write to endorse and support the message of the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity, Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative, NAACP Santa Cruz County Branch, Black Kings of Santa Cruz County, and the Santa Cruz Equity Collab.

The desecration of the Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Santa Cruz is a visible symbol of the racism, violence, and hatred to which Black members of the Santa Cruz community are subjected daily – in our schools, public institutions, when driving their vehicles, attending musical performances, and walking around the block outside of their homes. 

In the arraignment hearing for Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner, Santa Cruz Public Defender, Michelle Lipperd stated, "Yes, I understand that it was vandalism. People aren't happy with it and there are some undertones to the vandalism, but at the end of the day it is simply vandalism, which is not a danger to society like an assault." 

Identifying the impact of the vandalism of the BLM mural as anything other than a hate crime and an act of violence against our community is unacceptable. Not just an act of destruction of property, this was a racially motivated act of violence that resulted in the spread of hatred, instilled fear in our Black community members, and manifested in a publicly harmful and divisive conversation on social media. It was also an attack on a movement representing Black people and a message of equity and equality. 

A sense of entitlement, power, and privilege caused these men to commit an act of race-based violence and then to promote it on their own social media accounts. This attitude perpetuates the cycle of inequity and discrimination. In the “Pyramid of Hate” published by the Anti-Defamation League, you will see that bias-motivated vandalism is considered an act of violence, alongside assault, arson, and terrorism. 

As we think about the world that we envision for our children and future generations in our community, we implore you, our leaders who shape the community’s priorities and policies, to adopt a policy of “zero tolerance” for racism, inequity, and discrimination in Santa Cruz County.  

The men who vandalized the mural in the center of our downtown did not develop their racism or sense of entitlement overnight. Their beliefs and actions are supported and modeled by school curricula and sadly, much of our country’s political, corporate, and academic leadership. Incidents that occur in schools go overlooked and unreported. Black children, teens, and adults do not feel safe in their own neighborhoods throughout Santa Cruz County.  Members of our Black community lack equitable access to health care and other critical community and public resources. 

To echo the call of the Black-led organizations, we call on you to: 

1) Ensure that the perpetrators of the act of racially motivated violence against the Black community by vandalizing the BLM mural are charged with and prosecuted for a hate crime. 

2) Pursue the hiring of a police officer, sheriff and others dedicated to investigating and pursuing all racially motivated incidents and possible hate groups in Santa Cruz County.  Create public safety protocols to ensure the safety of BIPOC community members in schools, community organizations, and all locations within our County.

3) Mandate race-awareness, anti-racist education in all schools and publicly funded educational institutions in Santa Cruz County, beginning in pre-school through adult education. 

4) Identify candidates to fill a pipeline to ensure that we continue to have BIPOC among our elected officials at every level of government.

Racism is a problem constructed by white people for the purpose of economic gain, political achievement, and the power that accompanies them. It is our obligation to dismantle the systems and structures that are built on a platform of racism. We have a responsibility to be disrupters, and to raise anti-racist children. Sustainable change will not happen if we are merely reactive; once reactive energy dissipates, we will return to the status quo.  We need to be proactive, consistent, and committed to an equal and equitable future for all members of our community. 

We have heard our community leaders speak about the multitude of competing priorities that need to be “balanced” when allocating resources to ensure public safety and equity for our Black community members. We understand that there is a lot of need and limited resources.  However, after 400 years of persecution and discrimination because of the color of their skin, now is the time to center on the human and civil rights of the Black community.  As history has proven, “none of us is free until all of us are free.”

Please join us in fighting for a future for our children that aligns with our community values and ensures the public safety and health of all of our residents. 


Debra Feldstein, Founder & Managing Partner, Ceres Group Advisors, Board Member, Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center

Rabbi Paula Marcus, Head Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Aptos

Jennifer Astone, Principal, Integrated Capital Investing 

Beth Bariski, Santa Cruz

Michelle Bernabei, Community Member, Co-founder, Santa Cruz Relief

Mia Birdsong, Senior Fellow of the Economic Security Project, Board Member, Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center

Rob Blitzer, Owner, R. Blitzer Gallery, Board Member, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Ken Chizinsky, Santa Cruz

Susanne Choy Melehan, R.N., Community Member

Casey Coonerty Protti, Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz

Eli Davies, Santa Cruz

Michelle Easter, Santa Cruz

Gregory Furtado, Community Member, Watsonville

Andrew Goldenkranz, Chair, Santa Cruz Democratic Party

Allison Guevara, Social Impact Consultant

​​Carla Gutierrez-Dewar, Santa Cruz 

Lisa Hindman Holbert, Santa Cruz

Grace Kau, Scotts Valley

Jamie Keil, Learning & Engagement Manager, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Elfe Kuesters, Community Member

Wendy Leonard, MD Executive Director at TIP Global Health

Natalie Low, Santa Cruz

Catherin Malcolm, Community Member

Shoshanah McKnight, JD candidate, Monterey College of Law, Class of 2023

Julia Monahan, Owner, Bliss Dogs, Felton

Carol Morgan, Davenport

Sharon Papo, Former Executive Director of Santa Cruz Diversity Center 

Ocean Robbins, Co-founder & CEO, Food Revolution Network

Mariah Roberts, Executive Director, Santa Cruz County Park Friends

Deidre Rogers, Public Health Nurse

Ernestina Saldaña, Community Organizer

Carol Skolnick, Santa Cruz

Paul Towne, Sr. Director of Institutional Partnerships, Resilla (a Black-woman owned company)

Topher Wilkins, CEO of Opportunity Collaborative

Tonje Wold Switzer, Community Organizer

Robb Woulfe, Executive Director, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!