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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

Two Men Cited Downtown on Sunday - One for His Dog, One for ?
by Alex Darocy ( alex [at] alexdarocy.com )
Wednesday Aug 31st, 2011 8:34 PM
On Sunday two men were cited in Downtown Santa Cruz by an officer with the SCPD. Less than one week after the dog ban was lifted for the trial period, one of the men received a dog-related citation. During the same encounter with authorities, his friend, while playing music, received a citation for panhandling.
downtown-august-28-2011.jpg
downtown-august-28-2011.jpg

On August 28, 2011, while walking on Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz, taking photos, I noticed a small group of musicians playing in front of the Rit (the E. C. Rittenhouse Building, which is located at the corner of Pacific Ave. and Church St.). They played in different configurations for 20 minutes or so. Almost all of them had dreadlocks and it was a mixed ethnicity group of colorfully dressed people. I walked further downtown and then back near that spot again and noticed the group was down to two of the people, and standing in front of them was a SCPD officer writing a citation. I started taking photos about 10 feet away from the officer, and after about four shots, the officer took photos of me. I asked them if they were being ticketed for the dog not wearing the proper leash, but the guitar player wasn't sure exactly what the dog citation was about. I can't remember how it was apparent that they were both being ticketed, but the first ticket written was the dog ticket, and while the officer was writing the guitar player the ticket, we both asked his friend what he had been cited for and he (the friend) was only semi-responsive to us. I asked the police officer if he was being cited for the dog having the wrong leash and the officer said he couldn't talk about the citation he wrote for someone else, I apologized, and he said it was ok in what I would call a nice tone.
The guitar player at this time told me he thought the police were harassing him for playing music. I walked on at this point, and when I looked back they were headed towards the metro center. I hesitated, then ran and caught up to them at the Santa Cruz Metro Center just as their bus pulled up. The guitar player told me about when he had first played at the spot in front of the Rit, and that a SCPD officer had told him that if, "he moved just four feet down the street he would be 'golden.'" He also told me that he had a previous encounter with the officer (who had just written him the citation) where the officer had made it clear that the location where the guitar player was playing was fine (which was that spot in the photo in front of the Rit). The guitar player told me these two stories in the context of him feeling harassed by the multiple communications with SCPD officers about playing music. He also said that he thought this last experience with the SCPD was harassment and 'fake' because the officer did not call in his information when writing the citation, and that the citation for 'playing music' was motivated when he asked for the officer's badge number during the writing of the dog citation. He said that they were planning on leaving town and that this was the final push. During the whole event, he told me several times he thought he was being cited for playing music. I asked to see the citations that he and his friend received. The guitar player was 21, his address was listed as "transient", and he was cited for "Panhandling within 50 feet of a change machine." His friend showed me his citation, which read "Dog License required." The friend told me in a very abstract manner that he was actually a Hawaiian priest, and that nothing that had just happened, or that the police officer had said, mattered in any way, though he did feel inconvenienced. They then boarded the SCM bus and left.
That is the full story as I witnessed it on August 28, 2011.
After inspecting the photo I took of the two men more closely, I found that a small written message is visible in the guitar player's case, "All we need is $1.25."

Alex Darocy
alex [at] alexdarocy.com
Feel free to re-use and re-print.
§
by Alex Darocy Wednesday Aug 31st, 2011 8:34 PM
detail-downtown-august-28-2011.jpg
detail-downtown-august-28...

"All we need is $1.25"

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Thos Kuestersteffen III
Thursday Sep 1st, 2011 3:26 AM
Thanks for the invitation to re-use and re-print. I was going to take you up on that, but I couldn't think of a single reason why I'd want to. This is a complete non-story. Getting your knickers in a knot every single time you see a policeman just diminishes your credibility. Save your rage against the machine for something more substantive.

Just because you're holstering a camera doesn't mean you have to use it every waking moment. Sometimes, you ought to just put it away and go eat a taco. In other words, chillax, bro.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Sep 1st, 2011 6:41 AM
I guess TK the 3rd hasn't met Officer Winston and been ticketed for "breathing while being homeless on Pacific Avenue".

Thanks to Alex for posting the visual and the narrative.

The regular harassment of poor people downtown using the Downtown Ordinances (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php ) is unfortunately an issue that many would prefer to ignore or rationalize as they munch their lunches or shop for knickknacks.

It's refreshing that others take the initiative with cell phone and video documentation.

Those concerned can make reports of this kind at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific), by calling in to Free Radio Santa Cruz (831-427-3772), or by posting at http://badcopsc.blogspot.com/ .

As the repression and depression deepens, we need more such documentation and witnessing.

The Officer involved, Officer Winston, is still on the beat after documented reports of his beating a homeless man, Curtis Craig, on May 26th. I have received literally dozens reports from poor people, counterculture folks, and travelers for harassment, abuse, and citation for such "crimes" as sitting on the sidewalk, sleeping in a public place, and loitering. For actual audio accounts of Winston's behavior, go to http://www.huffsantacruz.org/brb-descriptions.html and search for "Winston".
by Becky Johnson
Thursday Sep 1st, 2011 6:47 AM
Thanks for this report. And I think federal immigration enforcement should be separate from the DMV with drivers licenses and car registrations issued to those who can drive and responsibly own and operate a motor vehicle.

Two musicians with a dog are cited for "panhandling" when they play music and have a SMALL sign on top of their guitar case less than 50' from a change machine. Note that they weren't panhandling, but playing music for donations, which is held distinct in the municipal code. They got busted under the section governing non-commercial display devices which cannot be set up with 10 ft. of building, crosswalk, statue (?!), sidewalk cafe, etc. but NOT forbidden 50 ft. from an ATM. So the ticket is bogus.

I note that on that side of the street, where you can't sit within 14' of a building, leaves almost no space for a human being. The INTENT, I'm sure (blame SCOTT KENNEDY for this one!)

No current license on the pooch? I have to wonder how the cop got close enough to verify that the license was not up to date. I mean, I wouldn't reach down to check for a dog I didn't know. cant tell from the photo if it has a license or not. If it's a puppy, the law says it doesn't need a license until age 4 months.

Too bad the cops didn't just give them a warning. It's not like these laws are intuitive or evenly enforced. Heck, lots of folks thought the dog law had been rescinded months ago and brought their dogs without incident. Personally I think that the laws restricting sitting down, where a political table can be set, and when you can legally hold a sign are horribly restrictive on 1st amendment rights to freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to redress government grievances.

Of course with MIKE ROTKIN on the board of directors of the ACLU, there's not much chance for relief from the usual protectors of our rights.
by R. Norse
Thursday Sep 1st, 2011 11:30 AM
It's true certainly that some laws are bad in and of themselves; others are overbroad and selectively used. Check out again the wording the Downtown Ordinances referenced above that criminalize sitting on 95% of the sidewalks in business districts, peaceful sparechanging or even passively holding up a sign in 95% of all of Santa Cruz, etc.

Those who support these laws don't really have good arguments--so they attack those who oppose them. No surprise.

Police regularly use these laws to make a whole bunch of poor people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Create hardships for them and pointless court expenses. Provide some temporary political capital for right-wing politicians (Coonerty, Robinson, etc.). That's what this is all about.

On occasions, I agree, I'm sympathetic with some police behavior (such as dealing with crimes of violence or fraud)--although even there there is significant differential enforcement and class bias. However the City Council's use of and empowerment of police to drive off the homeless is the issue.

I encourage folks to continue to document this and speak out against it both when it happens and subsequently in the media.

Given the collusion of the courts and politicians, that's really our only recourse at the moment. A cellphone with you ready to capture sound and images is also mighty helpful. Carry one with you, even if it isn't operational--it can serve as a deterrent.

There's also a police obsolecence workshop today (every Thursday, I understand) 5:30 PM at the Sub Rosa at 703 Pacific.

See also http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/08/27/18688926.php?show_comments=1#18688965 .
by Jim Blevins
Friday Sep 2nd, 2011 8:23 AM
What does the DMV and federal immigration policy have to do with any of this? Unless, of course, you think Hawaii is not part of the United States.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 3rd, 2011 8:12 PM
The officer giving a citation, B. Winston, Badge #164, has a notorious history of harassing poor people in public spaces on Pacific Avenue.

95% of the sidewalk a no-sitting zone is not "hyperbole", it's the law as written. MC 9.050.012 is quite explicit:

"9.50.012 SITTING DOWN ON SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES.
In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, no person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk:
(a) At any bus stop;
(b) Within fourteen feet of any building. Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk;
(c) Within fifty feet of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines;
(d) Within fourteen feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk;
(e) Within fourteen feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart;
(f) Within fourteen feet of any street corner or intersection;
(g) Within fourteen feet of any open air dining area or cafe extension; or
(h) Within fourteen feet of any kiosk."

These laws weren't approved by the voters, but by City Councils in 1994 and 2002 under pressure from merchant groups. Where are the "good arguments" for a law that criminalizes non-obstructive sitting other than to give merchants and their police a defacto privatization of the downtown area?

There is no such thing as a "democratic process" in Santa Cruz, in case you hadn't noticed. The Council doesn't listen to those who speak to it (cf. the Rent Inspection Ordinance of last summer) and does what its staff recommends.

Playing a musical instrument for donation is not "panhandling". MCV 9.10.010 states "For the purposes of this chapter: ....(a) “Solicitation” means any verbal request, or any non-verbal request made with a sign, by a person seeking an immediate donation of money, food, cigarettes or items of value. Purchase of an item for an amount far exceeding its value, under circumstances where a reasonable person would understand that the purchase is in substance a donation, is a donation for purposes of this chapter. A PERSON IS NOT SOLICITING FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS CHAPTER WHEN HE OR SHE PASSIVELY DISPLAYS A SIGN OR PLACES A COLLECTION CONTAINER ON THE SIDEWALK PURSUANT TO WHICH HE OR SHE RECEIVES MONETARY OFFERINGS IN APPRECIATION FOR HIS OR HER ORIGINAL ARTWORK OR FOR ENTERTAINMENT OR A STREET PERFORMANCE HE OR SHE PROVIDES [ [Capitals mine for emphasis]...."

Keep those cameras rolling. When the cops double park their cars to intimidate those using the public space, it's called free speech when you draw the attention of passersby to this abusive and selective enforcement of antihomeless ordinancess. The more frequently it is pointed out, the more embarrassing and the less appealing it becomes to those who want to remove the non-shoppers from the downtown area.

Those interested in being a part of the Police Obsolescence Project can get more info at the Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific Ave.

As well as leave written reports of incidents such as these.

Or do so here. Please.
by Robert
Sunday Sep 4th, 2011 9:15 PM
You don't need to be a judge, an attorney, a college graduate, overseas work as a U.S. mercenary, be rich or poor, a philanthropist, to understand the kind of harassment that is going on. You just need to be able to read the laws as written, observe police behavior as it comes down, and (this is hardest) take action to oppose it.

That's the problem and the challenge for all of us.

Trollnoise will always blare in the background. The question is is what we can do on our own streets and sidewalks to restore the civil liberties we've lost.

One good place to begin is by reading the ridiculous laws that were passed (which police and hosts are frequently wrongly citing). Go to http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php for more specifics.

Another is by carrying a cell phone, camera, audio recorder, etc. to use when you see incidents.

A third is to post your video on you-tube, or here, as was done with this story.

In these hard times, the next homeless person you meet may be your fellow student, a worker you know, relative, or...yourself.
Brown Berets and other activists will be attending Watsonville City Council on Tuesday September 13 to protest Police and Public Work destruction of homeless property and driving of homeless people from their camps along the river.

Brown Berets are asking people to assemble at 6:30 PM at the Watsonville City Hall at Civic Plaza Council Chambers, 275 Main St., 6th Level Parking

To contact the Mayor's Office
Daniel Dodge
Phone # (831) 768-3008
275 Main St., Suite 400 (4th Floor)
Watsonville, CA 95076
mayor [at] ci.watsonville.ca.us

LET HM KNOW YOU OPPOSTE THE SEIZURE OF HOMELESS PROPERTY AND DEPORTING OF HOMELESS PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO ALTERNATIVES

CORRECTION: Officer Winston's May Victom was Curtis CHAD not Craig.
Correction to a comment made in "Winstonwatch" above:

The man Officer William Winston assaulted in late May, according to three witnesses, was not Curtis Craig but Curtis Chad.

by Robert Norse
Sunday Sep 11th, 2011 1:55 PM
District 5
Daniel Dodge
Mayor
(831) 768-3005
ddodge [at] ci.watsonville.ca.us
Term Expires November 2014
by Doug Enns
Friday Sep 16th, 2011 3:28 PM
Thanks Robert, for fighting the good fight and keeping them honest. Our community is a better place for your tireless efforts.