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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons

Ticketing for Standing and Talking at the Metro Bus Stop Sunday
by A. Nonymous
Tuesday Nov 4th, 2008 4:20 PM
I witnessed Robert Norse get ticketed a few feet from the public sidewalk at the entrance to the Metro Bus Center last Sunday (11-2) where he was interviewing homeless people. This happened an hour after he complained about religious sermons being piped out to the sidewalk on loudspeakers above the entrance.
I was down on the mall Sunday and overheard Robert Norse getting a complaint from two men who said that a religious station was being broadcast through city-funded loudspeakers out onto the public sidewalk from the Metro Bus Station.

Norse went up there with his tape recorder and recorded some of the sermonizing. The Metro security guard, a tall black dude, didn't want to hear his concerns, particularly since Norse was recording everything quite openly. The guard refused to give his name or his superior's name.

A few minutes later, I observed Norse talk with a supervisor, another older black guy, who took the matter more seriously and said he'd deal with it.

An hour later Norse came back, tape recorder in hand, and the loud speakers were silent. He the interviewed a couple of homeless guys there. A security guard came over and told two Mexican guys to "leave the area"--this was all a few feet from the public sidewalk near the entrance to the Metro Center on Pacific Avenue across from Streetlight Records.

When Norse suggested this was a public area, the guard told him to leave. He asked the guard's name. The guard, noticing Norse's unconcealed tape recorder, refused to give it. The guard left and returned with a second guard, who again interrupted Norse's interview with the two men and demanded he leave.

Norse told him the area was both open to the public and funded with public money. He asked to be left alone. Instead, the guards called the police. An Officer Albert came, who then gave Norse a trespass citation and demanded he leave the property or be arrested. Norse delayed signing the ticket until a Sgt. Swaneck arrived.

Swaneck agreed that if it weren't a Sunday, he'd take him to a magistrate for a probable cause hearing, but since it was Sunday, if Norse didn't sign, he'd just take Norse to jail. Norse signed the ticket, and then stood off the property and continued to interview the guard who'd just ticketed him. The guard was cooperative, strangely enough. Norse said he might play the interview on his radio show and gave the guard his card.

I heard Norse ask the guard whether the security guards had permission from their bosses and from the SCPD to order anyone off the property for any reason. The guard thought so, but called his supervisor to find out.

The next supervisor (a new one), a woman in a car, drove up, got out, and demanded that Norse stop tape recording. He explained there was no expectation of privacy in a public place, that he was a reporter, and that he was also tape recording for his own safety--since he'd already gotten a citation. He wanted to make sure that false stories weren't made up about his behavior. He was also on the public sidewalk at this point. Plus the guard didn't seem to object.

The woman became angrier, but did give her name. She ordered Norse not to return to the Metro that day. And refused to talk further. He didn't answer his question about whether the guards had authority to arrest anyone who didn't leave--for any reason.

Norse told me the ticket he got said he was violating MC 9.60.0101 (a)--"Remaining on a business property after being requested to leave". Both he and I agreed that the transit center is hardly a private business. It looked to me like the guards didn't like Norse challenging their authority and might have been worried he'd give other people ideas.

Norse said he might be returning later this week to determine if other people have also been harassed by the security guards and the police there. He said he might set up a table and give out some flyers, either on the sidewalk or in the Metro Center. That should be fun to watch.

He said he could be reached at 423-4833 or during his Thursday radio show.

I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and a little scary.

I read in the Good Times about UCSC having a new policy of not allowing the public on campus without special permission.

Do you have to get approved to use the buses as well?

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Riding a bus
Tuesday Nov 4th, 2008 6:20 PM
MC 9.60.0101 - TRESPASS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT FACILITIES.

That law seems to state that the notice must be given in writing.

It says, in part:

"Such notification that the owner, operator, or other person in charge has issued a withdrawal of consent for a person to enter or remain on or in a public transit facility shall be given in writing. Such withdrawal of consent shall specify the period of time (not to exceed fourteen consecutive days) and the particular public transit facilities from which the person to whom the notice is given (recipient) shall keep away. Such notice shall also contain a statement informing the recipient that he or she may appeal the issuance of the withdrawal of consent to the issuing person’s superior (hearing officer)."

It also states the following:

"A withdrawal of consent may be issued only to a person who has (within the issuing person’s present) violated duly adopted written rules or regulations applicable to a public transit facility or otherwise disrupted the operation of a public transit facility in a manner proscribed by statute or ordinance."
by Riding a bus
Wednesday Nov 5th, 2008 8:28 PM
9.60.010 REMAINING ON BUSINESS PROPERTY AFTER A REQUEST TO LEAVE.

NOTE that this is '010' NOT '0101' as referenced in the article.

Section a says:

"(a) No person shall willfully remain upon any business premises, whether indoors or outdoors, after being notified by the owner, lessee, or other person in charge thereof to leave."

I don't know if the Metro Bus Center qualifies as a 'business' but that law (010) does have an exception for "common carriers" (i.e., bus stations). It says:

"9.60.011 EXCEPTIONS.

Section 9.60.010 shall not apply in any of the following circumstances:

...

(b) Where its application results in or is coupled with an act prohibited by Section 365 of the California Penal Code or any other provision of law relating to duties of innkeepers and common carriers;"



I suspect that means that people can't simply be kicked out of bus stations because state laws prohibits that. And that is probably why there is a separate section of the municipal code (9.60.010) that applies to "public transit facilities".

This is mostly speculation on my part, but it appears that before you can be kicked out of a bus station you need to be first given written notification, and you need to be in violation of "written rules or regulations" or "otherwise disrupted the operation of a public transit facility in a manner proscribed by statute or ordinance."

In other words, the ticket probably has no legal basis simply because there was no previous written notification. And they probably would not have had any basis for any notification anyway.
by Ned
Thursday Nov 6th, 2008 11:46 AM
I'm very disappointed that Robert signed the papers and then bowed to the will of the police by walking off the property.

Standing up for your rights means seeing your stand through to the end. Not walking away with a citation and your tail between your legs.
by ex-resident
Thursday Nov 6th, 2008 4:17 PM
I'm not usually one to defend Norse, but in this situation, what else could he have done? Gotten arrested for resisting arrest or gone to jail for the weekend? Clarification of laws is done in courts by judges, not by those who enforce the laws. He was pretty much out of options by that point, save for needlessly escalating the situation further.
by Robert Norse
Friday Nov 7th, 2008 11:32 AM
I played most of the audio tape (the rest this coming Sunday) on my Thursday night show. It should soon be archived at

http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb081106.mp3 (download and go to the last 1/2 of the show) .

Thanks for the comments above.

Please post any similar experiences others may have had.
by Robert Norse
Friday Nov 7th, 2008 11:39 AM
The section for which I was (non-custodially) arrested, cited, and released for was:

Chapter 9.60
TRESPASSING

Sections:

9.60.010 Remaining upon business property after a request to leave.

9.60.011 Exceptions.

9.60.012 Trespass letters.

9.60.020 Penalty – Infraction.

9.60.030 Subsequent offense within forty-eight hours.
9.60.010 REMAINING ON BUSINESS PROPERTY AFTER A REQUEST TO LEAVE.

(a) No person shall willfully remain upon any business premises, whether indoors or outdoors, after being notified by the owner, lessee, or other person in charge thereof to leave.

(b) No person, without permission, express or implied, of the owner, lessee, or other person in charge of business premises, shall enter upon such premises after having been notified by the owner, lessee, or other person in charge thereof to keep off or to keep away therefrom.

(c) The notification referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of this section may be given orally or in the form of a written notice, posted in any conspicuous place; in either case, the notice shall identify the prohibited area and the time period, if limited, during which such prohibition remains in effect.

(Ord. 85-76 § 5, 1986: Ord. 80-24 § 2, 1980).
9.60.011 EXCEPTIONS.

Section 9.60.010 shall not apply in any of the following circumstances:

(a) Where its application results in or is coupled with an act prohibited by the Unruh Civil Rights Act or any other provision of law relating to prohibited discrimination against any person;

(b) Where its application results in or is coupled with an act prohibited by Section 365 of the California Penal Code or any other provision of law relating to duties of innkeepers and common carriers; or

(c) Where its application would result in an interference with or an inhibition of any exercise of a constitutionally protected right of freedom of speech or assembly.

(Ord. 80-24 § 2, 1980).
9.60.012 TRESPASS LETTERS.

Six-month trespass letters filed with the Santa Cruz police department pursuant to California Penal Code Section 602(n) requesting peace officer assistance to remove trespassers from premises on property when closed to the public shall be deemed renewed for a single additional six-month period unless the property owner who filed the trespass letter, or the property owner’s successor in interest, requests that there be no such automatic renewal. No such trespass letter filed pursuant to California Penal Code Section 602(n) shall be effective for more than one year.

(Ord. 97-15 § 1, 1997).
9.60.020 PENALTY – INFRACTION.

Any person who violates Section 9.60.010 is guilty of an infraction with a minimum fine of fifty dollars.

(Ord. 80-24 § 2, 1980).
9.60.030 SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS.

Any person who violates Section 9.60.010 and who is cited for such a violation, and who within forty-eight hours after receiving such citation again violates Section 9.60.010 is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(Ord. 80-24 § 2, 1980).




The relevant section for the Transit Authority property is actually:

Chapter 9.62
TRESPASS FOR ENTRY UPON PUBLIC TRANSIT FACILITIES

Sections:

9.62.010 Trespass on public transit facilities.

9.62.020 Violation – Penalty.
9.62.010 TRESPASS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT FACILITIES.

Every person who enters or remains on or in a public transit facility (including, without limitation, a metro center, transfer center, or other passenger boarding or deboarding facility, or bus owned or operated by Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District) after having been notified by the owner, operator, or other person in charge thereof that consent for such person to enter or remain on or in such facility has been withdrawn is guilty of a trespass and may be prosecuted for the commission of a misdemeanor or infraction. Such notification that the owner, operator, or other person in charge has issued a withdrawal of consent for a person to enter or remain on or in a public transit facility shall be given in writing. Such withdrawal of consent shall specify the period of time (not to exceed fourteen consecutive days) and the particular public transit facilities from which the person to whom the notice is given (recipient) shall keep away. Such notice shall also contain a statement informing the recipient that he or she may appeal the issuance of the withdrawal of consent to the issuing person’s superior (hearing officer). The withdrawal of consent shall be stayed pending the conduct of an informal due process hearing on the appeal unless the hearing officer determines that the presence of the recipient will cause a substantial and material threat:

(a) To the orderly operation of the public transit facility; or

(b) Of significant injury to person or property. A withdrawal of consent may be issued only to a person who has (within the issuing person’s present) violated duly adopted written rules or regulations applicable to a public transit facility or otherwise disrupted the operation of a public transit facility in a manner proscribed by statute or ordinance.

(Ord. 88-33 § 1, 1988).
9.62.020 VIOLATION – PENALTY.

Any person who violates any provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor or infraction and punishable as such.

(Ord. 88-33 § 1, 1988).


What's interesting is that the SCPD so easily colluded with National Security Institute [the Metro private security force] guards in pressing this citation. Surely they've faced this situation before. Perhaps they've done it before. I suspect they've at least threatened to do it repeatedly.

The point is not my case--I don't use the bus that much. But what of those who do, and those who simply are poor and want to use the public space without being molested, harassed, or driven away?
by Naomi
( nrrodrig [at] gmail.com ) Thursday Nov 20th, 2008 5:44 PM
This is a very interesting story. I can't believe what "the authorities" are getting away with. I wanted to know if you have the recording or if its posted somewhere. I would really like to hear it.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Nov 25th, 2008 1:34 PM
Lengthy audio documenting the initial report, the first visit to the Metro, the refusal of the security guard to help or give his name or his superior's name, the helpful supervisor, the second visit to the Metro, the citation/arrest, the second supervisor, and the interview with the security guard can be found at

http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb081106.mp3 and http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb081109.mp3 (download) and fast forward through the show)

by Robert Norse
Wednesday Nov 26th, 2008 7:20 AM
For more on the struggle to stop the Metro Security guards from harassing homeless and young people at the Metro Center, go to "Rotkin Claims: No Flyering Allowed at the Metro Center--Protest 11-26 11:30 AM" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/11/25/18552885.php .
by Robert Norse
Friday May 15th, 2009 9:03 AM
"City Takes Broadcaster to Court for Chatting at the Metro--Trial Friday May 15 1:30 PM"
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/14/18594788.php
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jul 30th, 2014 11:40 PM
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/09/18601194.php