Santa Cruz to hire more cops after May Day riot


On Saturday night, a May Day rally turned violent when a group of anarchists began vandalizing businesses. Wednesday's meeting yielded some concrete solutions including hiring new officers. More officers are expected to be on the streets by October.

The meeting was standing-room only and only members of the downtown association were permitted inside.

"The senseless violence on Saturday night was incredibly frustrating and we're all angry about it," said Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty.

Coonerty and other city leaders are saying "enough is enough" after 18 downtown businesses were vandalized with spray paint, rocks and arson, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage.

Police were also attacked during the hour-long crime spree.

"One of our officers that was downtown was surrounded," said Zach Friend with the Santa Cruz Police Department. "His vehicle was pelted with rocks, bottles and paint. He extricated himself. We called for mutual aid."

Police have charged one man, Jimi Haynes, a 24-year-old transient from Fresno County, in connection with the vandalism. He claims to be a former employee of SubRosa Café on Pacific Avenue, a claim that the anarchist's organization denies.

No one from the group would talk to ABC7 on-camera, but police believe anarchists were involved.

"This was actually an organized, methodical attack on the city. We're working with the FBI to address this specific issue," Friend said. "This was not just a random group of people trying to participate in an unsanctioned parade. This was an organized group of anarchists whose goal was to take on our downtown."

Investigators believe the group of vandals used the May Day rally as a front for their actions, mixing in for physical and political cover. Even though the city faces a budget crisis, it has decided to take risky action to protect the community.

"We met the city manager in closed-session last night, ordered him to hire eight new additional police officers," Coonerty said. "We don't have the money to pay for it, but we feel it's important to have more police on the streets to deal with both the violence downtown as well as the gang problem."

Police are encouraging business owners to come forward with any surveillance video that could help find those responsible for the vandalism. Authorities are also offering a large reward to anyone who comes forward with information about the incident.

The FBI is looking into whether there are any connections between this incident and the animal rights-related demonstrations that targeted UC Santa Cruz scientists in 2008, in which there were several fire bombings.

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