Perspectives on a Memorial: Take Back Santa Cruz for Shannon Collins

I just got back from the Take Back Santa Cruz walk to honor the memory of Shannon Collins

The sound of the bagpipes called us to the corner where she died and marched us through the streets of Santa Cruz to our destination: Camouflage, her store. 

There must have been a couple hundred people – I think we stretched for a mile. This horrendous murder hit me kind of hard. The way she was killed – random, violent, horrific – took me back to my dad and stepmom’s murder. Both events shared those traits. 

The crowd was soothing and peaceful. It’s always interesting to walk alone and drift in and out of other people’s conversations. Overhearing memories of Shannon, discussions of the crime, talk of being hungry and what a nice day it turned out to be. 

I took pictures and just felt at peace. I am happy knowing I live in the kind of place that could come together at such a moment. A few tourists were in town and I explained what was happening. I assured them they were safe and this was a good place to visit. I went to my car to to sit a moment and look at the photos I had taken. I wanted to post them to Instagram and so I had to move my car to get signal. I left the parking garage and parked on River Street across from the pedestrian bridge. 

At the base of the footpath, there was a crowd of transients, or homeless, or hobos as my daughter would say (why are kids using that term, it kind of bothers me). They were in an animated discussion about the walk. One man was extremely upset that Take Back Santa Cruz has staged the walk and lamented that now there were going to be attacks on homeless people because of our action. That there had already been an attack (in fact true) and that more were going to happen because of these activists.

I sat there feeling kind of surreal. I had just walked. I want Santa Cruz to be safe. But I had never heard the strident feelings of this crowd before. These men were articulate. They knew what they were talking about and they were clearly concerned that being in Santa Cruz was suddenly going to be harder for them. I have to say I had a hard time feeling compassion for them. If they were bright enough to understand the politics of the situation, I felt like they should be bright enough to conduct themselves in a way that didn’t scare or intimidate other people. 

If anything, I wish they had been part of the walk.

In an instant, the group disbanded. I don’t know if someone broke them up or they could see the police on the way or what happened. They just evaporated all going different directions.

It was a strange evening. A Santa Cruz evening to be perfectly honest. With all sides presenting themselves. With everyone having an opinion.

In the neighborhood on Broadway where the attack happened.
The wonderful bagpipes. 
Heading over the San Lorenzo River.
It felt like we stretched a mile long.
Approaching the store, folks fell in to join us.
The crowd grew to envelope the street.
Camouflage was our final destination.

One thought on “Perspectives on a Memorial: Take Back Santa Cruz for Shannon Collins

  1. This cruel, heartless, murder, will be remembered, with a deep sadness, and be a part of us, for a very, very long time. I'm glad you shared your feelings and thoughts, and photos too.

    It's hard to know which people that live on the streets are there by choice, or due to illness, or any of many other reasons, social environments and endless wars produces. Once again, too many questions, not enough answers

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