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One More Time at the Drum Circle 3:30 PM Wednesday October 1st
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 12:56 AM
The Drum Circle should be reforming today (Wednesday October 1st) as it has every Wednesday for the last ten or so years. During the last three weeks community vigilance has blocked the Coonerty CopSquad from intimidating or dispersing the drummers, Food Not Bombs, the Trash Orchestra, and the many who enjoy the food and rhythm.
Update and Recap:

So far no charges have been filed against Wes Modes, a drummer with the Trash Orchestra. Wes's protest drumbeat so upset the police as they harassed Jack Russ, a Food Not Bombs foodserver on September 17th, that they jumped Wes, and batoned him on the leg--opening up a gash. They then took him to the jail, were told by the jail to take him to the hospital, took him there, left him at the jail for 24 hours, held him on $15,000 bail (which the City Attorney tried to raise to $50,000) and charged him with "lynching" (trying to take away a prisoner), obstructing an officer and vandalism.

The D.A. found the evidence so thin that Wes was released without bail, charges, or court date. However, his legal counsel reportedly thinks the D.A. is still looking to charge him.

Wes and Jack resumed their support for the Drum Circle last week (September 24th). The crowd once more time moved past the assembly-impeding plastic green mesh fenches set up by the police, and took back the public space. This time there were no uniformed officers stalking the lot--as there'd been for the last month.

One man (Crow) reported he was cited and released after he moved to haul away some of the mesh fence and poles blocking the roadway. [Crow's interview on Free Radio Santa Cruz is archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb080925.mp3 ].

Indymedia coverage, links with earlier stories and other media, video clips, and more extensive discussion of the September 24th event can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/09/24/18541170.php ["Drum Circle is Back with a Bang in Santa Cruz's Parking Lot #4"]. Some great photos by Bradley and video clips by Becky, Tim, and me.


TODAY'S PROSPECTS

Police in the past have backed off after having been held in check by community numbers and persistence. This may happen again as it did in January. [See "Parking Lot Panic Law Used to Disperse Drummers" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/03/18469844.php?show_comments=1#18475505 ]

Thomas Leavitt on his Sunday Free Radio Santa Cruz show The Wake-Up Call has suggested that Mayor Coonerty (running for reelection) and his conservative clique of DTA backers may have wanted to make a dramatic preelection move to show the Mayor's "strength".

Or alternately, the police may want to alarm the community that "things are out of hand"--even though they haven't been able to show any record of citations, arrests, complaints, accidents, or injuries in Parking Lot #4. My latest public records act request to the City and SCPD has still yielded no open records from the SCPD and no justification for the extensive police patrolling and crackdown. [See "No Public Records, More Public Lies" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/09/25/18541261.php].

This kind of disinformation campaign is done by provoking community anger, sparking a near-riot, then using the kept media (the Sentinel, Good Times, Metro, etc.) to spread exaggerated stories of conflict between drummers and the Farmer's Market vendors, bogus rumors that the Market may be "forced to close", lurid tales of drug dealing, peepee, poopoo, sexual harassment, excessive noise, and traffic problems.


CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES: WHERE ARE YOU?

At the Drum Circle last week, Madrigal, other Councilmembers, and other Council candidates were conspicuously absengt. I was there generally between 3:45 PM and 6 PM, as I wandered about videoing and getting audio tape for my 6-8 PM show tomorrow and didn't see hide nor hair of them.

I don't think any of these finger-in-the-wind, head-up-their-asses politicians have recently spoken out clearly and specifically against Coonerty's Public Assembly Ban in Parking Lots, which is what has fueled the police crackdown. That ban affects not only the Drum Circle, but 10 square blocks of previously public space. [See "Council Kills Public Space in the Parking Lots" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/10/23/18455629.php and "Zooming At You: Public Assembly Ban in City Parking Lots" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/09/21/18448912.php ]

Craig Canada, after some primping and preening about not liking drumming, seems to be edging a little closer to the riffraff. But even Kenyatta and Cabrera (candidates who haven't a fart's chance in hell of winning, but at least could speak up strongly on important issues) have made no clear public statements about the underlying issues. Kenyatta will be on my show tomorrow (7 PM). He refuses to be interviewed by me, so I've recruited Becky Johnson, who will hopefully ask him so relevant questions.
"Whip'emintoshape" Whitney reports no candidates have returned her e-mail questions about restoring the public's right to assembly in parking lot #4 except Lane and Teresas--who were unsympathetic.

Drummer Suzanne reportedly feels sufficiently reassured to return to the Drum Circle in the Parking Log, after having taken a "vacation" to the Town Clock last week (though she returned towards the end of the afternoon on the 24th after the community had assured the peace and safety of the Circle).

Some of us (me, for instance) plan to be there videoing, tabling, and monitoring the situation. Whitney tells me she will be on the scene, perhaps flyering for future street theater events.

Come One, Come All. You don't have to like drumming to appreciate the Constitution. And it can be a pleasure to see it restored in Santa Cruz if only in one parking lot. Visible community presence is an important factor in restoring peace and equity here. If you can't come, consider joining a Open Public Space Support Phone Tree: call 423-4833 for more info.


TAKING THE INITIATIVE

Much of the community response has been in reaction to overt, clear, and systematic police repression of the traditional drumming circle. However elsewhere downtown, police have moved on individuals, activists, and artists, using the public parking lots for public asssembly.
(See "Police Disperse Peaceful Narwhallagraphic Video Showing" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/03/22/18487879.php ).

Overpolicing and overreaction to minor incidents downtown is becoming the rule rather than the exception. The recent "Triple Fine Zones" rushed through City Council on the consent agenda and the expansion of the law to criminalize fireworks, the massive 4th of July goonsquad jamboree, Sgt. Christian LeMoss's breaking 61-year-old Donna Deiss's arm (and his continued abusive behavior downtown)--are all bad indications of how the repressive wind is blowing.

At its weekly meeting, AM-11:30 AM in the cafeteria), HUFF (Homeless Uned for Friendship & Freedom) will be discussing a new plan to issue "citizen arrest" citations to tourists in other parking lots who violate the 15 minute rule and demand officers cite on the spot or drop their harassment of homeless and poor people using the lots and garages. Call 831423-HUFF for more info or to volunteer.