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Year In Review

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By Jessica A. York jyork@santacruzsentinel.com SANTA CRUZ Residents spent a large part of 2020 examining the intersection of racism, em- powerment, police violence and local activism, mirroring activ- ism swelling across the coun- try in the wake of the May 25 death of Minnesota man George Floyd at the hands of Minneap- olis police. Not the least controversial among months of Black Lives Matter speeches, marches and other efforts was the iconic photograph taken by Sentinel photographer Shmuel Thaler, who captured then-Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings kneel- ing alongside city Police Chief Andy Mills during a peaceful downtown community-orga- nized moment of solidarity led by resident Joy Flynn. The pho- tograph gained national atten- tion after going viral on social media. "When I photographed Chief Mills and Mayor Cumming tak- ing a knee together -- our white police chief and black mayor -- I knew this was a significant mo- ment," Thaler said of the May 30 image. "Little did I know how it would resonate with others across the county. It's incredi- bly gratifying to have my image seen and shared by millions of people and to have become part of the national discussion on ra- cial justice. The City of Santa Cruz, in particular, became a focal point for much of the county's activ- ist efforts. The movement held its highs and lows over the sum- mer. Hundreds of volunteers gathered Sept. 12 to help activ- ists and artists paint a large- scale "Black Lives Matter" mu- ral on the street in front of City Hall and the community came together for several Zoom pub- lic forums allowing for commu- nity debate focused on violence and racism in policing. On June 3, protesters were more divided, with thousands of peaceful dem- onstrators marching along West Cliff Drive and rallying at Light- house Point while a smaller group of hundreds separately organized downtown hours later, several members peeling off to leave graffiti on the police station and surrounding areas and broken windows at multi- ple downtown businesses. During the larger protest, event organizer and Santa Cruz resident Esabella Bonner took time out to appear for a vir- tual live-streamed forum orga- nized by Cummings and Mills. Part of the discussion included Mills' announcement that his department would ban the use of chokeholds moving forward, in advance of a statewide ban. Cummings, the city's first Black male mayor, later arrived at the downtown protest and said he observed those doing the spray painting to be white and engaged in a heated debate with attendees. Several argued with Cummings about a desire to "defund the police" and to urge the city to pull its police officers away from offering mutual aid to law enforcement struggling with security in Oakland dur- ing similar protests. The next night, police kept a watchful dis- tance during a similar protest, with hundreds of demonstrators marching from the Santa Cruz Town Clock to the county jail to the courthouse, back to the Town Clock and finally to the police station for a brief "die- in" demonstration, covering the ground with their bodies. Similarly, on June 10, hun- dreds of people peacefully walked to several points, includ- ing the Town Clock to the Santa Cruz County Jail on Water Street up to the Mission and then along Highway 1 down to its intersec- tion with Highway 9. Chant- ing and drum-beating partici- pants waved signs with slogans COMMUNITY Santa Cruz participates in Black Lives Matter movement SANTA CRUZ COUNTY AHEAD OF THE FLAMES SHMUEL THALER — SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL Locals watch lightning over the Pacific Ocean and Santa Cruz in the early morning on Aug. 16. The storm sparked the fires that later merged into the CZU August Lightning Complex which destroyed more than 900 homes in Santa Cruz County. See more pho- tos from 2020 on pages D8 and D9. By Hannah Hagemann hhagemann@santacruzsentinel.com SANTA CRUZ It's been nearly 10 months since the COVID-19 pan- demic took hold of our nation and changed life across Santa Cruz County. The impacts of the virus on our lives have been far ranging — holidays without beloved fam- ily members, businesses shutting their doors, shop owners ebbing and flowing with regulations, nights without friends at favorite eateries, yearly-traditions can- celed or moved online. On March 19, Gov. Gavin New- som implemented a first-of-its- kind shelter-in-place order. Much like the current order, which went into place Dec. 18, the March or- der barred Californians from CHANGING LIVES Pandemic,fireleavescars By Hannah Hagemann hhagemann@santacruzsentinel.com SANTACRUZ On Aug. 16, an early morning lightning storm capti- vated residents across Santa Cruz County, as powerful bolts crack- led, lighting up the sky, one after another. That light show would turn catastrophic, as more than 300 lightning strikes touched down, igniting the fires in the CZU August Lightning Complex. The CZU Complex burned more than 86,500 acres in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. In total, the fire burned more than 1,400 structures across both counties. In Santa Cruz alone, 911 homes were destroyed in the blaze. More than four months after the CZU August Lightning Complex ignited, the Santa Cruz Wildfire: Impacts of CZU Complex fire remain fresh in Santa Cruz County By Jessica A. York jyork@santacruzsentinel.com LIVE OAK During a year filled much much tragedy and loss, the June 6 death of 38-year-old Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office dep- uty Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller struck a deeply personal note communi- tywide. Gutzwiller, a 14-year depart- ment veteran, father of two and patrol supervisor, was shot and killed in the line of duty on a Sat- urday afternoon in Ben Lomond. Amidst heightening coronavi- rus pandemic fears, more than 1,000 mourners gathered at 2:26 p.m. for a community vigil hon- oring Gutzwiller that was held at the Sheriff's Office Live Oak head- quarters parking lot 24 hours af- ter he was fatally shot. An even larger June 18 memorial drew more than 2,000 law enforcement members, along with hundreds of family, community members and other mourners to Cabrillo's Carl Conelly Stadium and additional thousands watching from home via a livestream. Coworkers close to Gutzwiller described him as "the embodi- ment of community policing." Gutzwiller also volunteered at the Sheriff's Office while earning an associate degree from Cabrillo College, before being hired as a full-time deputy. He was a 1999 gratuate of Aptos High School. Before Gutzwiller's death, it had been more than three de- cades since a Sheriff's Office deputy was killed on duty. Dep- uty Michael Gray was shot after he stopped a suspicious-looking hitchhiker on Highway 9 across from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park on Jan. 3, 1983. Steven Carrillo, 32, of Ben Lo- mond, has been charged with Gutzwiller's death. Carrillo, a San Lorenzo Valley High School grad- uate, himself was shot while being apprehended. The Sheriff's Office recently honored a Ben Lomond resident with a Civilian Distin- guished Service Medal for his in- volvement in Carrillo's apprehen- sion. During a June 9 press con- ference, Sheriff Jim Hart said the man, named only as "Sam" for pri- vacy reasons, reportedly tackled Carrillo after the man showed up in his yard demanding the keys to his vehicle. Carrillo reportedly was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapon, pipe bomb and pistol at the time, according to the Sheriff's Office. Neighbors reportedly assisted with Carrillo's detention until officers could be flagged down. Carrillo, however, has pleaded not guilty to the murder, at- tempted murder and several FALLEN OFFICER Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputy killed in line of duty COVID-19: Virus creates new meaning of normal for county residents SHMUEL THALER — SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL Peaceful marchers take a knee June 3 at the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz to protest racism and the police killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police. WILLIAM DUNCAN — SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL Members of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office walk with the casket of fallen deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller across the field of Carl Conelly Stadium at Cabrillo College in Aptos. OFFICER PAGE 2 PANDEMIC PAGE 2 WILDFIRE PAGE 6 BLM PAGE 2 Li gh t s ho w t ur ns s er io us a er w il d fi re s i gn it e, s pr ea d SHMUEL THALER — SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL Dominican Hospital nurse Toni Luckett on Wednesday becomes the first person in Santa Cruz County to be vaccinated against COVID-19. YEARINREVIEW » santacruzsentinel.com Thursday, December 31, 2020 MORE AT FACEBOOK.COM/SCSENTINEL AND TWITTER.COM/SCSENTINEL D1

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