Take Back Santa Cruz (“TBSC”) has prevailed in the federal lawsuit brought by local “advocates” attempting to keep the Gateway Encampment (aka “Ross Camp”) open. TBSC considers this frivolous lawsuit to be a direct attack on free speech, and yet another attempt to silence the citizens of Santa Cruz who speak out about public safety. The lawsuit, which was also brought against the City of Santa Cruz, alleged that TBSC played a key role in the impending Ross Camp closure, by somehow being connected to or influencing the City of Santa Cruz Police Department and Chief of Police Andy Mills. Other than providing a forum for citizens to exercise their freedom of speech to oppose a dangerous drug camp, TBSC had no influence to affect the closure of the Ross Camp. Nor did TBSC participate in any of the blatantly false accusations of violence in the federal complaint.
Our leadership team at TBSC condemns these accusations in the strongest terms, and our reputation of advocating for victim’s rights and the most vulnerable in our community speaks for itself. We take our mission very seriously, and will vigorously defend the 501(c)(3) organization and our supporters in court.
This lawsuit was never about homelessness; it was about the usual agitators using our most vulnerable and unhoused community members for their own agenda, and using the Justice system to try to shut down the First Amendment rights of public safety advocates. It was, fundamentally, an intimidation tactic. Once the federal judge ordered the main force behind the lawsuit to stop attempting to practice law without a license, none of the actual plaintiffs pursued the case (despite an extension of an already missed deadline). Because the leadership team at TBSC feels so strongly that the plaintiffs were manipulated into this lawsuit, we have decided to waive our right as the prevailing party to seek a judgment for costs in defending the suit.
TBSC and those community members who want to live in a safe and loving community will not be silenced. TBSC and the community will continue to focus on creating awareness and working together to build a better, safer and cleaner Santa Cruz County.