The event, called Our City Is Watching Festival, will take place from noon until 9 PM and is, of course, open to the public. It will open and close with music from Haggard, SoulDarity and Relapse Party, all local bands., It will also feature workshops on filming and documenting police misconduct, self-defense, and other topics, as well as talks from AIM (American Indian Movement) and UCSB’s Congresso. There will also be free literature and art, and booths set up for people to make their own t-shirts and patches. The intent is to bring awareness to how law enforcement targets local populations that they see as vulnerable, such as immigrants, the homeless, and people who are viewed as mentally ill.
The festival was organized in part to respond to recent harassment by the homeless. This February, Andrew Holmberg was beaten and arrested after a questionable stop by the Santa Barbara Police Department. When his friend Melissa Kane filmed the beating, she was also beaten and arrested. Holmberg served 49 days in the Santa Barbara County Jail; he was found not guilty of Battery of a Peace Officer by a jury, but received probation for 2 other misdemeanors. He was released this Wednesday. This harassment of homeless and seemingly-homeless young adults is common in downtown Santa Barbara. “They do it because it’s easy, they have quotas to make, so they ticket and harass us when they should be working to help the community,” said Kane, who has been working on the festival with other local organizers.
One of the workshops at the festival is by Comunidades Unidas, a local organization working to strengthen the whole community of Santa Barbara County by maximizing opportunities for immigrants to participate and advocate for their needs. Comunidades Unidas will be showing a “Know Your Rights” video produced by CHIRLA. There will be training on civil rights, including the 4th and 5th Amendments of the US Constitution. People will also learn about the collaboration between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), mainly at the Santa Barbara County Jail. “It is very important that people be aware of current ICE programs within Santa Barbara County and what other Counties and States have done to not participate in them,” said Laura Ronchietto, a member of CU. The workshop will be in both Spanish and English.