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

Sinister Street Singers Cited on Sidewalk
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 9:29 AM
Increasingly, police seem to be using the anonymous “citizen's arrest” threat to drive away musicians and performers with the bizarre “unreasonably disturbing noises” law. This allows police to avoid liability for bad tickets (“false arrest”) and encourages them to use perfunctory repressive tactics while hiding behind the cover of “a citizen complaint”. A 'heckler's veto' can now end political and non-political singing on Pacific Avenue. Two weeks ago, four of us got tickets for about 25 minutes worth of singing total in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz while encouraging the public to support new protections for the homeless community.
FOUR TICKETS FOR SINISTER SIDEWALK SINGING

On Wednesday January 6th.Officers Shoenfeld and Inouye gave out four $200+ citations to activists for singing political songs in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue. These were citizen arrests based on the complaint of a nearby St. George resident who identified himself as Sean Riley.

The wording of the law under which we were cited is described below.

Some of the audio of this arrest can be found at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100117.mp3 near the end of the audio file.

The HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) activists circulated petitions, served hot vegan food, and sang the occasional song (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/12/19/18633181.php?show_comments=1#18633339 ).

Their tabling followed up on a prior demo dramatizing the near-tripling of the homeless death rate in 2009 (http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2009/12/2009-annual-report-on-homeless-deaths.html ).

The issues are described at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/12/19/18633184.php .

Earlier protests had been threatened by merchants using police under the “move along every hour” law, which requires that “display devices' be moved every hour at least 100' and not come back for 24 hours. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/07/31/18613467.php http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/07/24/18612318.php )

This time police “responded” to Sean Riley's “noise complaint”. We don't know if Officer Schoenfeld told him the actual wording of the law--which seems to make his "citizen's citation" a false arrest. Nor why the officer's facilitated the ticket, doeing her own chilling of First Amendment-protected street singing.

Becky Johnson,who was ticketed, gives her own colorful take on the bust complete with photos and comment section at Before going further, I encourage readers to check out her account at http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2010/01/sing-song-go-to-jail.html


BACKGROUND

A month before, DTA Executive Director Chip's attempted to exclude HUFF singers from the downtown Xmas parade on 12-5, though they were an invited and permitted part of the Human Rights Faire contingent. When HUFF tookits place in the parade, they were harassed by cop-aphilic vigilantes drowning out HUFF songs in that parade with revved motors and a bullhorn (http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2009/12/sentinel-accuses-huff-of-crashing.html ).

HUFF has frequently sung downtown in front of the Bookshop, usually at the same time in the same place. Usually more loudly with more people for a longer period of time. as have other groups like the famed “Ragin' Grannies” and other less political (but louder) bands.

Two of us have an arraignment date on February 11 at 8:30 AM.

The issue is not us and our tickets, of course, but stopping the practice of giving performer-hostile locals a veto on who can play on Pacific Avenue.


POOR TIMES FOR PERFORMERS

“Big Drum” Brent, who plays a 50 gallon drum downtown with companion performer Wireless, reports regular “move along” harassment from police using this “excessive noise” tactic in the last few times he's played downtown.

Suzanne, who also drums with other strummers downtown, reports being moved along.

Visionsong Valerie and the SAFE group(Society for Artistic Freedom and Responsibility/Street Performers Against Foolish Enforcement) reports unusual police contact directing them to move along from their usual spot in front of New Leaf Market's closed kiosks where they preformed for six years, relatively unmolested..

Robert “Blindbear” Facer reported being told not only should he move, but that he couldn't play on the mall at all in a contact several months ago.

For more instances of this, go to http://www.huffsantacruz.org/brb-descriptions.html where some of my more recent Free Radio Santa Cruz shows are archived and scroll through the descriptions to read many accounts of harassment.


HISTORY

In 2003, the Rotkin-Matthews City Council finalized the law that threw out the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines (http://www.buskersadvocates.org/saalegalSantaCruzGuide.html ). These had served the community for 22 years without any documented problems. In an attempt to drive away panhandlers and homeless folks, the City Council implemented a mandatory “Move your display device after an hour” which caught up performers (with their guitar cases), panhandlers (with their cups), political tablers (with their tables), and performers (with their open guitar cases seeking donations) in the same repressive law—nearly unique to Santa Cruz. (http://cohsf.org/streetsheet/2003/02/01/move-along-its-the-law/ ).

Police customarily ignore the time limit for political tablers, unless they receive a complaint (usually from a merchant), but use the hour-limit regularly against homeless folks panhandling for necessities with a sign in the limited time (daylight only) and space (less than 5% of the downtown sidewalk). Recently, however, the SCPD and/or the Downtown Association may have recommended a swifter approach to removing “unwanted” performers and singers.


THE LAW ITSELF

Municipal Code 9.36.020 "unreasonably disturbing noise" states in relevant part:

"No person shall make, cause, suffer, or permit to be made any noises or sounds (a) which are unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness or which are so harsh or so prolonged or unnatural or unusual in their use, time or place as to cause physical discomfort to any person, and (b) which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted."

This ordinance is now being used to drive away musicians, regardless of how long or how softly they've been playing. The cop or “hospitality guide” helpfully explains, “we've gotten a complaint”.

Though the wording of the law seems to set a pretty high standard before turning a complaint into a citation/arrest (i.e. No probable cause) The words. “physically annoying” “so harsh...unnatural...unusual seem to allow for a relatively high level of volume at least from 8 AM to 10 PM when this law is in force. According to Mayor Rotkin himself in a recent interview (http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100117.mp3 [halfway into the audio file]), this law wasn't meant apply to someone singing acoustically or with a quiet keyboard, but rather to people whose prolonged output actually produces physical discomfort.

Since singing is a “legal activity”, as described in section b of the law, how can you ticket someone for singing loudly when the act is legal, and hence outside the scope of the law as written? Not only is singing legal, but it's also First Amendment-protected. So unless you are actually “disturbing the peace” or committing some other illegal act so as to violate the “b” section of MC 9.36.020, even “physically annoying” songs aren't punishable under this law. Why then don't police tell those complaining there's no probable cause and hence no basis for a ticket? Why aren't police answering the question of a musician “how loud can I play?” Which brings up another issue—that the law and the standard is unconstitutionally vague, since there's no way to know if you're being “unreasonably loud” or not.


COP CAPERS

What do police say when asked, “is my music disturbing you?” (Presumably if he says it's not, then it's legal. He's the “expert” and he's closer to the music than the complainer).

However, here the police have a trump card. When the musician asks the cop if they find the level of music “unreasonably disturbing”, they may get a pokerface or refusal to answer. Even if there's a crowd around the performer appreciating the music at the height of the day alongside of additional street noise including loud motorcycles in the background. The cop may turn with an innocent look and say blankly, “it's a citizen complaint not mine”.

Even when the performer agrees to play more quietly (which, I suspect, is almost always the case), the cop is likely to say “you have to move along or the citizen will cite you; this is your warning.” And the cop may point out that the complainant was disturbed at some point prior to the cop's arrival, so the cop wasn't present when the “unreasonably disturbing noise” was made.

Is the cop telling the complaining party that he won't write a citation unless the noise they heard meets the very high standard the law requires? Does s/he tell the complainer what the law actually says? The threat of a “citizen's ticket” is likely to drive away most performers, no matter how softly they're playing and how much they're in the right. Who wants to be threatened with immediate jailing, be forced to go repeatedly to court, risk a $200+ fine, and possibly have one's instruments confiscated (though I've not seen that done in Santa Cruz)? Not something a person with little money wants to risk.

Knowing the law and hearing the music directly, the cop knows or should know that if he charged the performer himself and wrote a ticket, that would amount to “false arrest” without probable cause. Why then should the cop give greater credibility to the distant complainer than to his own ears? I have to conclude because the cop believes the resident has the right to shut down any music which they find bothersome, regardless of the wording of the law.

If the performer then trys to counter complain that the “noise” complaint is knowingly false--since the law doesn't apply to lawful street performers, the cop may refuse to take the countercomplaint. The officer who ticketed me for singing in front of the Bookshop said she'd “absolutely” take my complaint. However ten minutes later she refused, saying she'd put it in her report and “refer it to the D.A.” When asked why I was getting different treatment from the resident complaining, she looked at me impatiently, asked if there was anything else, and turned to go. s


THEN AND NOW

Remember the Good Ole Days when people talked to people? When merchants, residents, or other performers would approach a performer they had a problem with a speak to them? The Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines encouraged the musician to keep it quieter or move along after an hour. It was enforced by peer pressure and by its inherent fairness. No cops, courts, or lawyers were involved.

Not any more. To reiterate, police are now not asking musicians to play more quietly but demanding under threat of citizen arrest/citation that musicians “move along” regardless of how long they've been there, how loud they're playing with the officer arrives, and how quietly they agree to be. This amounts to a conspiracy to deny musicians their right to sing in public spaces, based on one person's complaint.


PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

I've requested Sgt. Harms to supply me with a record of the “noise” complaints and subsequent move-along advisories police and “hosts” have given in the last year on Pacific Avenue. The point is to see how frequently and under what circumstances this happens. And whether the police are issued any guidelines. So far, he has not called me back.

Rather than serve as a community resource to help communication between residents, merchants, and performers on the sidewalk, police are acting as a private goon squad to drive away performers at the whim of the complainant..

Because many of these performers are homeless, they have only public spaces to play in—adding another dimension of discrimination to the process.



WHAT CAN BE DONE?

It depends, of course, to some extent on how the courts treat this case, and whether Mayor Rotkin will attempt to rein in the police. My past experience with both does not make me optimistic.

My earlier suggestions on how to deal with this law can be found at (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/08/18471055.php?show_comments=1#18471663 )

The Street Performers Guild may be having a meeting soon. Please report your concerns either openly here on this blog, leave a written account at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific Ave.) in the Police Abuse notebook, or give a call to me at HUFF (831-423-4833).

You can also discuss these issues on Free Radio at 101.1 FM or http://www.freakradio.org Thursdays 6-8 PM and Sundays 9:30 AM to 1 PM.

I shall be playing the rest of the January 6th Sidewalk Singer Slaughter at 6:15 PM on Thursday 1-21. The show will be archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100121.mp3 .

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Rick
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 12:30 PM
The story of what happened in front of the St George that winter day has changed quite a few times. "Journalist" Becky Johnson was so eager to break this story in a Sentinel forum about Ryan Coonerty that she forgot to include some very pertinent information. First she accused Ryan Coonerty of calling the police, saying that it was suspicious he would be at BSSC at the same time of the singing. Why it would be "suspicious" that Coonerty would be in a building where his family and friends work is stretching the imagination. She said that Coonerty had left the building 10 minutes before the officer arrived and stated it was not a coincidence. The truth is that it is more likely the singers chose that spot thinking Coonerty would be in the building at that time. She then went on to say that you guys were cited and you stopped.

Then an eyewitness stepped forward.

In Becky's first version she never mentioned that the man who made the complaint actually came down to street level to sign the complaint and that she knew the man's name. She made the implication that it had been Coonerty who did it. She also never mentioned that an additional woman up in the apartment building called out the window for the singers to stop. The eyewitness also said that the singing had been going on for well over an hour, almost two. The man signing the complaint used hyperbole and said it had been four hours. But it was confirmed that it was closer to two hours by the eyewitness, a claim that Becky did not deny. The "25 minute" version being told here does not match with Becky's story. Becky also never mentioned that a screaming match took place between people standing out on the street, the woman up in the building, and the singers. It was also never mentioned that the same singers had been to the exact same spot many times before with no incident. Yet now that something happened it automatically proves that the BSSC were behind it? Why then and not before?

I would suggest that HUFF participants get their stories in line before presenting them to the public. It might also be a good idea to assume that an eyewitness may step forward to tell the real version of events. This would eliminate wasted time on
"He said, She said" arguments.

Why do these stories always change?
by Becky Johnson
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 2:45 PM

RICK WRITES: "The story of what happened in front of the St George that winter day has changed quite a few times."

BECKY: Well, here is the WHOLE story, since you're complaining you didn't hear EVERYTHING.

http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2010/01/sing-song-go-to-jail.html

QUESTION FOR RICK: Do you think the police should be aiding and abetting shutting down free speech with specious citizen complaints?
by Rick
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 3:23 PM
Oh, I read the story on your blog. It still does not match your previous version posted in The Sentinel forums. Certain details don't match Robert's story above. This is the Donna Deiss case all over again. Every day we are going to be treated to revised versions of this story. "On second thought....". "After further consideration...", "I want to correct...." Why don't you guys just sit down together and write it all down. Then you don't have to be put in the position of changing your story.
by Becky Johnson
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 7:31 PM

Rick, what about my question above? Does it concern you in the slightest that your police are
promoting private citizens to invoke highly questionable complaints for so-called 'violations' which
absolutely obstruct a private citizens right to sing "Let it Snow" on a public sidewalk?

The standard for the right to freedom of speech on a public sidewalk is pretty high.
Obviously it's being curtailed by police action. Does that concern you at all?
Did you read in the ordinance that the standard is "a person with reasonable sensitivities"
and not "the person who is the most sensitive?"

Was RYAN involved? That is all I asked. Its a reasonable question since our event had been published for several days and RYAN was seen leaving BSSC minutes before the police arrived. Could he be using police to hassle his critics? Are you sure he wasn't involved in some way?

Or is it your job to throw sand in the umpires face so he can't make a good call?
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jan 20th, 2010 11:36 PM
Attorney Ed Frey has agreed to take on the cases. Ed is also fighting another case for Robert "Blindbear" Facer--a homeless person victimized under the Sleeping Ban in a case currently on appeal.

We're talking with various attorneys to put together an Injunction against the Singing Ban, since winning our tickets won't stop harassment complaints. We have to stop the kind of unfair and partisian enforcement of the law that's going on where police are simply an arm of hecklers who don't want political protest songs within their hearing range. And hecklers are a tool for police to enforce their "move along" authority even before the singers have had time to do much singing.

The whole nasty package works well into the Take Back Our Town/Coonerty mentality which aims to drive charitable foodservers, peaceful panhandlers, homeless advocates tabling and singing, and raggedy types hanging out off the mall without excuse or explanation.

A year ago the Matthews-Rotkin Council passed the "3 unattended infractions and you face a year in jail" (though I'm not aware this law has been charged against anyone yet). They also passed the 14' forbidden-for-sitting zones from sculptures, then promptly littered the avenue with penguins and other art beasts further constricting the legal space to sit, sparechange, perform, or politically table.

Hopefully Frey and other attorneys will help to fight back effectively against these laws, or--even more important the ever-abusive Sleeping Ban law that attorneys in L.A., San Diego, Fresno, Laguna Beach, and Richmond have changed or overturned.

Also on the HUFF hitlist: Chief Ranger John Wallace's criminal theft and destruction of homeless survival gear--a practice which has been halted in Fresno with a cool $2.3 million going to homeless people and their attorneys in the 2007 Kinkaid decision.

Still in the wings--the Injunction Trial against Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon, already given a Preliminary Injunction making one act of sleeping in the downtown a jailable offense. Attorney Jonathan Gettleman has made sweeping discovery demands of the City Attorney to discover the scope of the harassment against these (and perhaps other homeless people).

Please keep those reports coming in--if hosts, police, or private citizens try to claim "unreasonably disturbing noise" for normal musical performance 8 AM to 10 PM.
We returned to the Bookshop Santa Cruz sidewalk (laiir of Vice-Mayor Ryan Coonerty) concerned about a number of things.

Vice-Mayor Coonerty has become notorious over the Xmas season for personally cautioning and then publicly rebuking foodservers. He didn't like Ronee and Steve Currey for their Sunday "beanies and burritos" food and clothing distribution each Sunday on Pacific Avenue in front of Borders. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_14054161?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com&IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com

Coonerty also evoked the ire of right-wingers (and some left libertarians too) for advising Sentinel editor Don Miller that he "monitor" or eliminate the on-liine comments section of the Sentinel stories. (http://www.topix.net/forum/source/santa-cruz-sentinel/TTLGTEJJ9GVO3E1C8/p12)

In an earlier censorship move, Coonerty took to editing critical comments off the wikipedia page describing his past exploits:
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_11831411?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com&IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com

Admittedly, Coonerty has taken no position on the growing police abuse of the "unreasonably disturbing noises" law (though he did bar three singers from the Bookshop back in 2007 "for life" for their peaceful if passionate protests outside his Bookshop).

The CEO of Coonerty's "Next Space" business, Jeremy Neuner was videotaped ranting homophobic insults at a homeless man for sitting on a bench outside Next Space on Cooper St. late last year. (Audio at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb091101.mp3 -- go to http://www.huffsantacruz.org/brb-descriptions.html the 11/1/09 show to find the clip) Coonerty when informed of this abuse did nothing.

Since the Bookshop Coonerty (as we fondly call it) is fairly high-traffic area, we again set up our table to petition and protest increased harassment of Pacific Avenue street performers in December.

To publicize this latest round of low-intensity "cultural war", HUFF members composed and practiced the following additional lyrics to the Petula Clark song, "Downtown". Imagine our amazement when the song invoked the singing shutdown.


THE MYSTIC LYRICS

Where are the songs on the sidewalk today?...the best have gone away— from Downtown
A single complaint will have the cops out to send the singers on their way—Downtown
Sing a song of protest just outside the local bookshop
Music with a message means a steep fine---makes the poor stop
Singing their tale.
So stop singing your doubt, you'll see bigots on phones
All calling cops out
To come downtown—muz-zel-ing those they fear
Downtown—don't want your kind SO near,
Downtown---watch uniforms smother our dreams;.
Downtown—Grinding Us Down;. Downtown—Silencing Sounds. Downtown.

They don't give their names, but the cops tell the singers—"You!--Be on your way!" Downtown
“We've had a complaint, so you must stop your singing at this spot today.” Downtown
Everyone around you may appreciate the groovin'
One heckler 's veto gives the cops excuse to get you movin'
In spite of the law
The police don't give a damn, which Constitution they're shredding
It's all quite a sham.
When you're downtown—shame on the fear that rules
Downtown—bad laws from frightened fools
Downtown— Sing Out and Recover Your Dreams


Eerie in the extreme, police and their citizen vigilante associates acted exactly as the song predicted. No kidding, these lyrics were the new ones we were singing in front of the Bookshop some minutes before Officer Shoenfeld pulled out her ticketbook facilitating Sean Riley's false arrest on 1-6.

It's creepy. It's cosmic. Perhaps you too can invoke the satanic & sinister SCPD songslayers by singing these stanzas. Warning: do not try this without party hats, video cameras, and You-Tube space. Cream pies and clown noses are optional. Above, all, remember!: They can arrest our artists, but they can't silence our snickers!

Earlier lyrics can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/12/19/18633181.php?show_comments=1#18633339

Whisper the forbidden lyrics at your own risk!
by Keep It Real
Thursday Jan 21st, 2010 6:31 PM
Robert claims the homeless death rate nearly tripled this year, and invited me to visit Beckys blog to see the proof.

So I did, and the fact is that Robert is grossly exaggerating the facts.

The death rate for 2009 was 50% above the 8 year average, and 150% above last year's average.

It's nowhere near "triple" any year in history.

Keep it real Robert; the reality is grim enough. You're exaggerating it to serve your own purposes serves to disrespect reality and those who died...and using the deaths of humans to further your cause is ugly business.

The total number of deaths reported this year is 47. This represents the highest total number of individuals dying while homeless since 1999. The total number of homeless deaths reported in 2008 was 20, and the average number of deaths per year over the preceding eight years (2001-2008) was 32.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Jan 21st, 2010 10:01 PM
Becky Johnson attended the Homeless Memorial Service out at the HSC on 12-22-09. She reported that the Homeless Persons Health Project announced an extra eight deaths there and gave their names. These were folks who were no longer homeless when they died, but had experienced long periods of homelessness in Santa Cruz.

Later in the service, Becky reported, a woman stood up and read the names of three more homeless dead in 2008. These two figures, added to the earlier 47 totals 58.

Since last year's total was 20, that's nearly triple. Hence my comment.
by Not Rick
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 6:58 AM
Becky, I'll answer your question: Yes, I do believe that after an hour or two of "free speech" action, a private citizen does have the right to call the police and ask them to enforce the law. Your "free speech" rights do not negate everyone else's rights, and you were being purposefully loud and obnoxious in an area that is both a business and a residential area. If I lived there, I wouldn't have waited an hour to call the cops, quite honestly- that you had plenty of time to be annoying and obnoxious towards your boy-crush, Ryan Coonerty, is clear. That you got the response you wanted because, let's face it, your day isn't made unless you create a big scene and get the police involved, is it? If you didn't consistently provoke residents and businesses in Santa Cruz to call the cops, you wouldn't have material for your blog, and Robert would have to use his radio time reporting on actual news, not pseudo-events that he was responsible for creating.

But yeah, yeah, every time you have the cops called on you it's the greatest violation of human rights since Darfur (or, shall I say, the occupation of Palestine?), not the fact that the VAST MAJORITY of Santa Cruzans can't stand you and don't agree with your tactics. If you believe that, then you must believe that Israeli settlers and defense forces never use deadly force against Palestinians without complete justification-- oh, wait...
by Becky Johnson
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 10:05 AM
NOT RICK WRITES: "Becky, I'll answer your question: Yes, I do believe that after an hour or two of "free speech" action, a private citizen does have the right to call the police and ask them to enforce the law. Your "free speech" rights do not negate everyone else's rights, and you were being purposefully loud and obnoxious in an area that is both a business and a residential area."

BECKY: First, we weren't there "an hour or two." Our event started at 1:30PM and the Officer arrived at 3PM. Nor were we singing the entire time. Nor were we singing "purposefully loud and obnoxious". That is your value judgment which you are in no position to make since you were not a witness. The audio tape does not show us to be "loud and obnoxious". It isn't very loud at all considering the hand-held tape recorder was being held 2 to 3' away from the performers.
by Becky Johnson
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 10:29 AM
NOT RICK WRITES: "the fact that the VAST MAJORITY of Santa Cruzans can't stand you and don't agree with your tactics. If you believe that, then you must believe that Israeli settlers and defense forces never use deadly force against Palestinians without complete justification-- oh, wait..."

BECKY: Prior to the Civil War, the vast majority of people in the South thought slavery was legal and a good thing.
In 1950, the vast majority of people thought cigarette smoking was harmless.
In 1960, the vast majority of people thought homosexuals suffered from a mental illness
In 2003, the vast majority of people thought that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD's
In 2010, the vast majority of people think the SLEEPING BAN is necessary to keep millions of homeless from moving to Santa Cruz. I happen to disagree. I will be PROVEN right someday.

And why you would want to mix the issues of homeless civil rights with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is beyond me. Robert Norse and I have vastly different views on this conflict, yet you want to lump us into the same mold for our "tactics".
So what was the "justification" the Palestinian man used to run a young mother over with a bulldozer in Jerusalem seconds after she handed her baby to a passing stranger?
see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4254225.ece
by Elroy Face
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 11:16 AM
BECKY: First, we weren't there "an hour or two." Our event started at 1:30PM and the Officer arrived at 3PM.

Seriously? An hour or two does not equate to 90 minutes?

BECKY: The audio tape does not show us to be "loud and obnoxious".

Actually the audio tape clearly shows that YOU are loud and obnoxious. You can kid yourself all you want but the message you project is "Look at me", not any type of cause.
by Disproving her own point
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 1:56 PM
It's interesting that Becky, who regularly endeavors to villify Palestinians in general while at the same time claiming she's not a racist, would pick an example that, IMO, merely heightens the sense that she's a racist and that Israel is the same.

Why would Becky highlight an indicident wherein there is no definitive proof that this was an act of terrorism? Could just as easily be a crazy guy who snapped.

-The family says there was no warning or agenda; most families praise their martyred terrorists.

-Three terrorist organizations all tried to take credit for his actions; this essentially none of them really were involved, or they wouldn't have invalidated each others claims.

-And the government, with no proof of terrorist connection, is trying to have his survivors punished by destroying their home?

Strikes me that this article shows racism in Israel rather than refutes it, and does the same for Becky.
by Colin Groves
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 3:09 PM
I just listened to the recording and am horrified. I can't believe that Becky is screaming at a person living in low income housing saying "Why did you move downtown!!!" Becky, more than anyone, should know that many people on assistance don't have much of a choice towards where they live. Maybe it's close to transportation that this person needs. Maybe they needed to live near a grocery store or family member. Maybe it's all she could afford. Who knows and who cares? The fact is that many low income people don't have a hell of a lot of choices as to where they can live. Becky just does not seem to care about this. All she cares about is her selfish activities and not the poor. This unfortunate woman is just trying to find some peace and quiet in her own home and is forced to listen to Becky and her crew wailing and moaning outside her window complete with instruments. When the woman asks her to be quiet Becky screams at her! I'm through listening to Becky and feeling sorry for the way people treat her and HUFF. Screaming at this woman to leave downtown if she does not like Becky's singing is the same as Old Man Coonerty telling people to leave town if they don't like what they see.
by Harry K
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 3:44 PM
Disproving her point says: "Strikes me that this article shows racism in Israel rather than refutes it, and does the same for Becky."

Did you know that in the past even Robert has accused Becky of being a racist. There is a great audio here on Indybay where he does just that. In return Becky turns all potty mouth on him.
by Becky and Robert
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 4:47 PM
Anybody who takes their statements at face value after their lengthy history of bending facts and misrepresenting truths to bolster their case is an idiot.

The track record is lengthy: False claims of the destruction of Camp Paradise by police. Ever changing posting of "facts" in the Donna Deiss case. Questionable statistics such as this thread (links show one number, but Robert tells you to believe what Becky told him she heard at a meeting as the actual statistic) and Becky's claims that teachers earn $800 per day. Roberts claim that he was accosted at the Metro by a guard while hanging out there, only to be recanted when he is confronted with the reality that he'd already posted that he went there from the mall specifically to confront the guard. Maybe Robert should take his own advise as voiced in the tape and remember that his statement is already on tape?

On and on and on. Bottom line; they lack credibility in my opinion, and their word shouldn't be trusted at face value. Show me credible documentation (Read "Not articles they wrote themselves or Becky's blog or Robert's radio program) and I will consider it.


And on a side note? How humorous to hear Becky on tape saying
by Not Rick
Friday Jan 22nd, 2010 8:37 PM
So, while this has already been posted about, it bears repeating: Becky attacks my response that "an hour or two" was really an hour and a half. And that's pretty much her main response. Wow.

And to be honest, I think that your ability to think that all actions that Israeli's or the Israeli government does is okay, while any action the government of Santa Cruz does is wrong is somewhat unbelievable. That you call a cop enforcing a citizen complaint against you a major human rights issue, while defending Israel is amazing. That's why I brought it up-- to remind everyone of the hypocritical egomaniac that you are.

Here's another thought:

In the 1980's, no one agreed with or accepted the actions of Becky and Robert (and their little group called "HUFF").
In the 1990's, no one agreed with or accepted the actions of Becky and Robert (and their little group called "HUFF").
In the 2000's, no one agreed with or accepted the actions of Becky and Robert (and their little group called "HUFF").

It's 2010. Keep doing the same thing and see if it works in THIS decade, while also equating yourself to some of the greatest, best organized, intelligent civil rights leaders and movements in modern history. Really. You obviously deserve to be included in that pantheon as you sing bad songs, poorly, and basically make yourself the object of ridicule for your own personal gratification. Again, how many homeless people have you saved? Gotten off the street? Provided shelter for? Oh, right-- zero. And how much change have you effected in Santa Cruz? None.

Keep up the great work.
by Gene
Saturday Jan 23rd, 2010 10:26 AM
The total number of deaths is meaningless without knowing what the total homeless population was for that particular year. If the population goes up then statistically speaking the number of deaths would go up. Hence the saying there are liars, damn liars, and statisticians. Is Robert a statistician?
by Camo
Monday Jan 25th, 2010 10:45 PM
I was a witness on Pacific Avenue to a citation being given out to completely innocent bystander on the basis of the complaint of a person being disturbed by a protest and pointed the wrong person. Why did this come to a police issued ticket ?I was shocked to discover that the $445 ticket was for something not close to the real activity- which was for singing. Is this town really using it's police monies wisely? I was shocked to see this miscarriage of authority take place.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jan 26th, 2010 8:29 AM
Street Performers Guidelines supporter Tom Noddy noted in an e-mail to me,

"...in September 2002 ...the institution of the new laws resulted in the withdrawal of the voluntary guidelines. The street performers had offered the self-imposed restrictions of the voluntary guidelines in exchange for an agreement that they city would not pass street performer-specific laws. Once they instituted and enforced those new severe restrictions we saw no further need to abide by the neighborly agreement that had kept peace downtown for over two decades.

Also, for the record ... Neither Rotkin nor Matthews was on the City Council when Ed Porter and Emily Riley pushed through those nonsense laws."

True in part, but as I wrote Tom, both Rotkin and Matthews voted at the first regular meeting of the Council in December to kill the recommendations of the Downtown Commission to restore the Voluntary Street Performers laws (see http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/2658/index.php ).

A month later Rotkin and Mathews voted to finalize the "Move Along Every Hour" law currently governing "display devices" that forces busquers, political tablers, and panhandlers to move hourly and not come back for 24 hours.
by Doveglory
Tuesday Jan 26th, 2010 5:40 PM
Becky weighs 140 lbs??? That's what the ticket says.
by Rick
Wednesday Jan 27th, 2010 3:41 PM
Becky posed this question "QUESTION FOR RICK: Do you think the police should be aiding and abetting shutting down free speech with specious citizen complaints?"

Not at all. If the intent by a private citizen or the police is to stop the delivery/content of your message they should not be allowed. Freedom of speech is a right. If, however, you are a public nuisance, rude, using profane language, disrespectful of those around you, and grating, then a citizen has the right to lodge a complaint.

QUESTION FOR BECKY: Could you have held your protest in the other free speech zone? Or was you intention to possibly piss Coonerty off?
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Feb 6th, 2010 1:08 PM
SOMEONE WHO IS NOT ROBERT AND BECKY WRITES: "The track record is lengthy: False claims of...."

BECKY: This person is trying to undermine what Robert and I report due to the TRUTH of what we write, not any problem with "false claims." NOTE that the examples given of errors are trivial. And the volume of reporting by NORSE and myself...well...it's pretty substantial. Robert has been producing either one or two radio shows a week since 1995 with no re-runs. Thats over 1,000 radio shows in which homeless issues in Santa Cruz are covered.

I produced 308 episodes of my television show, Club Cruz. Both Robert and I wrote for Street Spirit. I wrote for 10 years, and Robert even longer. Then there's our work on both Santa Cruz Indymedia, at HUFF, and here at Indybay.org/santacruz.

Both Robert and I strive to give accurate and independently verified reports whereever possible. We do public records requests, go to source materials, and have attended hundreds if not thousands of meetings.

We are as credible a source as any SENTINEL article, and perhaps have a better batting average than that.

But I get it that we gored a sacred ox of yours along the way and you are out to get us.

Oh, and STOP USING OUR NAMES!! THAT IS LIBEL!!!
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Feb 6th, 2010 1:19 PM
RICK WRITES: "Not at all. If the intent by a private citizen or the police is to stop the delivery/content of your message they should not be allowed. Freedom of speech is a right."

BECKY: Then you agree, the police violated our 1st amendment rights when they made us stop and told us to move?

RICK WRITES: " If, however, you are a public nuisance, rude, using profane language, disrespectful of those around you, and grating, then a citizen has the right to lodge a complaint."

BECKY: I have not been declared a 'public nuisance' which is a legal description and a finding of a court of law, not something a person like you can just declare. I don't think I was rude. Do you have an example? Profane language? Who used profane language? Disrespectful? How? By gathering signatures on petitions? By serving hot soup to hungry people? By singing a few songs? How did I violate ANY law or even be accused of the other LEGAL, but undesirable attributes you mentioned (rude, profane, disrespectful, etc.)?

QUESTION FOR BECKY: Could you have held your protest in the other free speech zone? Or was you intention to possibly piss Coonerty off?

BECKY: There are only two free speech zones on Pacific Ave. One is in front of O-Neils and the other in front of BSSC. We chose the BSSC site because RYAN COONERTY has failed to make any comment on the record homeless deaths while he's been in office. the theme that day for our event was "Unsafe to be Homeless in Santa Cruz". We intended to publicize those deaths to BSSC customers and to the COONERTIES.
by Rick
Saturday Feb 6th, 2010 8:06 PM
Becky writes "We chose the BSSC site because RYAN COONERTY has failed to make any comment on the record homeless deaths while he's been in office. the theme that day for our event was "Unsafe to be Homeless in Santa Cruz". We intended to publicize those deaths to BSSC customers and to the COONERTIES."

But Becky, you've been saying for weeks that it was "suspicious" that Ryan Coonerty was there that day. Now you're saying you chose that exact location in an effort to confront him. Which one is it? "Suspicious" or expected? You just nullified your argument that he was involved in some sort of conspiracy against you.
by Shadow
Monday Feb 8th, 2010 8:24 PM
Becky says "We intended to publicize those deaths to BSSC customers and to the COONERTIES."

Those of us familiar with her tactics would phrase that a different way.

What she should have said is "We intended to capitalize on those deaths in order to hurt BSSC and the COONERTIES."

Let's call it like it is.
by Shadow
Monday Mar 1st, 2010 3:04 PM
Becky says "BECKY: This person is trying to undermine what Robert and I report due to the TRUTH of what we write, not any problem with "false claims." NOTE that the examples given of errors are trivial."

Trivial?

Do you think it's a "trivial" error when you report that a homeless camp was destroyed by the police when it was actually destroyed by a flood?

The "truth" about what you write? What was "true" in that rather big error?

Do you think it's a "trivial" error when over 50% of the "facts" you reported on the Donna Deiss incident had to be amended?

That's not journalism.

It's rumor mongering.
by Becky Johnson
Thursday Mar 18th, 2010 6:33 AM
THE SHADOW WRITES: "Do you think it's a "trivial" error when over 50% of the "facts" you reported on the Donna Deiss incident had to be amended?"

BECKY: DONNA DEISS left a message on ROBERT NORSE's answering machine the night she was arrested and her arm was broken by the SCPD. Robert publicized that message. Some of her message was confusing and some of that confusion was transferred to Robert's account the next day. That EARLY REPORT was later amended and corrected.

This is true in all news media: that the early reports often contain errors that are corrected later on.
There was no attempt to misinform the public. HUFF updated our information and the proof is in the pudding.

ALL CHARGES of "assault on a police officer" "resisting arrest" and "marijuana paraphernalia" disappeared before trial.
DEISS plead "no contest" to an infraction "littering" ticket (presumably for the coffee cup she dropped on the ground when the police officer assaulted her and broke her arm.)

Therefore, what HUFF reported has proven to be true. We reported that DEISS was fraudulently and falsely charged with assault on a police officer, and that DEISS did not deserve to have her arm broken.