FBI Investigating May Day Santa Cruz - NBC Bay Area

FBI Investigating May Day Santa Cruz



    FBI Investigating May Day Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz police are working with the FBI to find who's responsible for his past weekend's May Day gathering in downtown Santa Cruz that turned violent.

    Saturday's incident that left 18 businesses vandalized. Damages are estimated to be in excess of $100,000.

    Two people have been arrested.  Jimi Hayes, 24, was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism and parole violation, and Thomas Williams, 41, was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and obstruction of a public officer. Both men were identified by police as transients.

    Police spokesman Zach Friend said the event appears to be the work of an organized group of anarchists that sought to strain city resources.

    About 250 people had gathered downtown Saturday night for an international workers' day rally. At about 10:30 p.m., some of the people rallying started smashing storefront windows and painted graffiti in the form of anarchy signs on dozens of businesses on Pacific Avenue.

    Santa Cruz police said the combination of fliers directing people downtown, with the words "Dance Party" on them, and bogus 911 calls may have been part of a larger plot.

    "We believe this was a direct challenge to us based on our staffing levels," Friend said. "People were aware of how many officers we would have in the area. We believe they were pretty sophisticated and know how to divert these police resources."

    One of the men arrested told officers he received anarchist information from SubRosa Café on Pacific Avenue, police told Action News.

    Before asking an Action News crew to leave the premises, Jennifer Charles, of SubRosa Café, said that just because one person saw some material at her establishment, it doesn't mean the group organized or had anything to do with what took place Saturday night.

    Charles was the spokesperson for the Tree Sitters, a group of protesters who delayed construction on the UC Santa Cruz campus for months between 2007 and 2008, and is now part of the collective at SubRosa Café, a nonprofit under the name, Revolution Garden Society. About 20 to 30 people are part of the collective.

    The group's space also houses the Anarchist Lending Library, which features books on anarchy and other reading materials.

    "From our perspective, they're operating legally as a business right now within the city of Santa Cruz," Friend said. "The blame doesn't lie within a business, the blame lies with the individuals who committed the acts."

    Late Monday afternoon, SubRosa Café reiterated in a post on its Web site that it had nothing to do with Saturday's violence.

    "If they're not involved, I'd like to see them help clean some of the glass up, and helping the businesses that were affected," Ryan Coonerty, vice mayor of Santa Cruz, said. "That's the least they could do."

    Police said Saturday's protest was not related to earlier, peaceful protests in support of immigrant worker rights.

    Video was posted on YouTube that shows a march down Pacific Avenue and police arriving at the scene.

    This article originally appeared on KSBW.com.