by Carlos Pedraza
Editor’s note: In print El Jardin Santuario was only referred to as “Centro del Pueblo’s community garden,” and “Arcata community garden.” This article and headline have been edited to address the garden by its name.
A community safety meeting was held on Saturday Aug. 27, where organizers from Centro del Pueblo and Cooperation Humboldt discussed the recent attacks. The first one was hate speech written on the garden stop sign, the second a week later when anti-Semitic flyers were left in the garden. The most recent attack was when someone cut down corn stalks growing in the garden, grown from seeds brought from Mexico by Adan Cervantes, an immigrant and the head gardener.
The organizers have spoken to Arcata police, who told them of a person of interest with connection to neo-Nazi groups in the area. According to Centro del Pueblo organizers, the police have also promised to send an extra patrol to check the garden during the night.
The police offered a donation of surveillance cameras for the garden but were refused.
“We wanted to have control over the surveillance, not the police to have control over the surveillance,” said Jasmine Segura, the Volunteer Coordinator of Centro del Pueblo. “Also, we don’t want surveillance during the day.”
Segura believes the police do have good intentions but she describes working with them as a double edged sword, since the garden is considered a safe space and is used by the unhoused.
The majority of the meeting was discussing fundraising $5,000 to fund the cost of setting up cameras. Humboldt students and locals came together to pitch ideas: from a silent auction, to food trucks, and legal concerns like food permits. There was a general sense of cooperation with students and locals all volunteering to look into food permits and to speak to artists and businesses asking for donations.
Humboldt resident and member of the Peace and Freedom party Hannah Deshais decided to volunteer after hearing about the attacks.
”I feel hopeful this has started something beautiful from something hateful,” Deshais said.
Deshais stated she would continue to support the garden through volunteering and pushing her party to be more involved.
After the meeting, a few people, including children, stayed behind to do work in the plots, digging out weeds and attending to the vegetation.
“This attack, it’s like a reminder to us that our work here is not done,” said Xochitl Cabra Sanchez, the Community Outreach Coordinator with Centro del Pueblo.
El Jardin Santuario will be holding a fundraiser on Sep. 24 and a free jiu-jitsu self-defense class on Sep. 11, with people of color being offered the class first.