Support for Evicted Market Drummers (1/9)
Last week the ever-present market drum circle was evicted from their spot under the tree in the parking lot by police using the new 15-minute law (persons cannot be in any city parking lot longer than 15 minutes). Join us to protest that eviction and reclaim that public space!
Support for Market Drummers
Wed Jan 9th 4pm
Santa Cruz Farmer's Market
(Bring percussion - resonant trash or a drum)
The City of Santa Cruz's parking lot panic law is in effect and being enforced. For those unfamiliar the law restricts the use of downtown parking lots and garages to parking and retrieving of vehicles (the person must be in and out in 15 minutes), and for pedestrians passing directly through from one sidewalk to another or a bordering store. Anything else (waiting in your car for a friend, eating lunch, talking to friends, playing music...) is trespassing, illegal, will get you hassled by Santa Cruz's finest, and, ultimately, fined.
Ostensibly to create a safer downtown, this absurd law is a further attempt to create a sterile downtown for smooth undistracted shopping. It criminalizes creative uses of public space for art and recreation.
From this article on Indybay:
On two successive Wednesdays, police have ordered the peaceful drum circle to leave their traditional spot in the public parking lot [alongside the Farmer's Market] using Mayor Coonerty's Ban on Public Assemblies in parking lots. The new merchant-backed law prohibits lingering in a parking lot or garage unless you have a vehicle there (and then only for fifteen minutes). It removed ten blocks of public space from public use.
A twisted and unjust law, but only words on paper until enforced. Uniformed fascists (some very friendly and decent, of course, as they oppress you) will try to enforce it with what they believe to be legitimate power. But we are really the ones that make the choice whether to legitimate that power or not. We choose not to go along with the program.
This is merely the newest battle of a war in Santa Cruz. A war against dissent, against the poor, against the homeless, and now against people making music. We challenge these laws and the police crackdown on undesirables -- an effort to "clean up" the streets of Santa Cruz of the young, the very old, immigrants, the unemployed, homeless, the insane, and anyone who resists.
Join us in solidarity with other musicians and friends playing music together.
There are so many parks and open spaces in Santa Cruz; going down town to start a drum circle will only lead to trouble.
Violating the law with what clearly appears to be an effort to upset patrons of Farmers Market. and get you in trouble with law enforcement, is not the way.
Please rethink your strategy
Our issue is with the council, city managers, and police that would evict people for playing music in the parking lot near the market.
Our issue is with the totalitarian urge to "clean up" every square inch of this town to make it safe for monied yuppies and knee-jerk downtown business owners to lead sterile lives without being reminded that there are people in the world unlike themselves.
Our issue is with the commodification of every aspect of our lives.
Our message is this: Some things aren't and never will be for sale.
So the proper response to an officer who approaches you is "Officer, am I free to go?" which requires him to cite, detain, or arrest you or leave you alone.
It might prove profitable in future (both as a momento to show your grandchildren and as evidence of a false arrest) to actually get ticketed, even arrested for this "offense".
Still since it becomes illegal even for folks who do have cars or bicycles in the lot to be there for more than 15 minutes, cops can watch for 15 minutes and then move in to disperse the "illegal assembly" under color of this law.
The law also prohibits those with vehicles for being there for ANY OTHER PURPOSE than parking or retrieving a vehicle. Sitting in your vehicle, other than for the purpose of moving it our or parking it seems to be a violation of the law.
The law is rather vague as to whether one gets a total of 15 minutes to park and retrieve your car, or whether you get 15 minutes coming and 15 minutes going. Ask the officer to explain the law to you. Again, don't specify whether you have a vehicle there or not.
Perhaps folks can simply walk off the lot after 15 minutes, then walk on again, and begin another 15 minute permitted period. A false arrest of several dozen people here could be rather costly for them.
This law, of course, violates the First Amendment and its California Constitution "freedom to assemble" equivalent, but I'm not aware that any cases have been fought around the issue. Or that the Roberts Supreme Court for the matter, having decided "no knock" is an appropriate way to serve a search warrent, wouldn't okay this police state foolishness. And--be aware!--Mayor, Progressive Bookshop Santa Cruz manager, and constitutional lawyer Ryan Coonerty has declared this law constitutional.
The law could be ruled a proper restriction based on "time, place, and manner". But where is it legal to engage in 1st Amendment activity on the 10 square blocks stolen from public use.
Section 9.64.040c specifies it's okay to remain in 'free speech' zones (none of which have been designated). Perhaps the Trash Orchestra should designate the entire area a place to "engag[e]... in speech-related conduct"?
The City has inexplicably failed to post such areas. Could be a few false arrests in the off-ing here, if someone has the tenacity and legal muscle to challenge.
The ACLU opposed part of this law (the part applying to parking lots; they didn't have the balls or sense to oppose the entire law, fearing it would be politically incorrect), and in theory might be willing to support a challenge.
Civil liberties champion Mike Rotkin is on the Board of the ACLU and actually voted against the expansion of the law (though not its initial application to parking garages and parking lot #9 across from the Elm St. Mission where homeless people gather).
The law penalizes disabled folks--possibly in violation of state or federal disability law, so it might be helpful to have some bona fide disabled people as part of any protest (though they get 30 minutes to get out rather than the 15 for the able-bodied).
Some discussion of this law's progress through City Council can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/10/18/18454618.php?show_comments=1#18455628
Not only drummers or those on foot or vehicle-free have been impacted. Disabled Tim Rumford reports being surveilled by cops as he sat in his vehicle in one of the lots, not once, but several times. Rumford runs the blog http://www.humanityforhomeless.blogspot.com
Homeless people have also reported being driven out of the parking garages in the last year as part of Mayors Reilly and Coonerty's efforts to spruce up and safety-ify downtown.
There is also more background on the law and maps covering its sweep at
In passing the law, City Council removed the prior warning provision and included any new public parking lots in or adjacent to the downtown area.
Trash orchestrattas, once finished with their recitals, might consider other proposals like designating the missing Free Speech zones in front of the Downtown Association (across from the Coffee Roasting Company)--the main group along with the SCPD, the secretive Downtown Task Force, and Coonerty and his Bookshop Santa Cruz--that backed this law.
Or questioning/informing tourists of that they need to time themselves carefully and avoid the $100 plus citations that can be forthcoming (particularly if we preform citizen arresgts).
See you there tomorrow.
The ACLU (wretched little powergroupies that they are around here) has recommended giving a name and address and no more.
Attorney Katya K. recommended saying "am I free to go?" followed by "I do not consent to a search" and "I have nothing to say and would like to speak to an attorney." Not sure what her position is on giving or not giving your name.
You certainly are not required to show ID.
It shouldn't be too hard to determine if Robert's car is in the lot. It's that nasty eyesore that was broken into a while back, prompting him to file a police report and ask for help, which they provided, even finding the perpetrator.
I wonder if he said thanks. I wouldn't bet on it.
I have written representatives and senators and million times and it never gets anything done.
Let's face it, working within the system usually doesn't work! And when it does, it takes an extremely huge amount of time and effort.
Officer Aldridge in his trusty squad car showed up and double parked three times eyeballing the drummers. But when we left at 5:45 p.m. there had been no citations and I didn't even hear that warnings were given out, though one drummer (tall guy with the black cowboy hat) left and returned, voicing his resentment about the harassment.
The trash orchestra showed up around 4 or so, set up, and played for an hour or more.
One woman got upset with the drumming and got into a near fight with a drummer. She had a broader complaint about the drummers being bad noise and wanted it stopped.
In a way the woman's complaint was helpful, because her direct account to Office Aldridge (which I witnessed and tape recorded) documented that he was formally advised of what was going on (i.e. people in the parking lot for more than 15 minutes)yet chose to do nothing. I may be playing the audio on Free Radio Santa Cruz on my Sunday 9:30 AM - 1 PM Bathrobespierre's Broadsides show.
Aldridge may claim that the police department's reluctance to enforce an absurd law against a crowd of people is part of their "only giving out warnings now" process. But his failure to either warn or cite is also potential evidence of blatant selective enforcement when others are cited or harassed. It is clear that not only was he officially informed of the law violation, but he came back three times to observe it in a squad care prominently and somewhat obstructively parked.
Thanks to HUFFster Becky for bringing the camera to the HUFF meeting even though she was sick, to Coral for coming all the way downtown to do the filming and then leaving the camera and film off for timely posting, to Tim for the downloading (he may be working soon on the New Years "Funny Fireman" incident), to Bob for his faithful "on the sidewalk" flyering and witnessing, to the Trashettes for their buoyant presence, and to me for this great account!
Not to mention Bradley, the drummers, and the crowd that risked ticketing or arrest to reclaim space stolen by police the last two weeks.
Admittedly, the presence of the Farmer's Market (on vacation for the last two weeks) may have been a significant factor. On the threatened bust two Wednesdays before, Sgt. Dan Flippo reportedly claimed that it was "complaints" from the Farmer's Market that had him out their on his "bully the drummers" mission.
I think we need to hold workshops on how to take back the parking lots and deal with police/host harassment there. Perhaps Jason and Wes's next "Know Your Rights" (part of the Free Skool) seminar could next happen in a parking lot?
Ignore bogus authority. Take back the Commons.
Good work, everyone.
"MC 9.36.020 UNREASONABLY DISTURBING NOISES. 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. As used in this section, "lawfully conducted activities" shall include, but not be limited to, any and all activities conducted by the city for public health, safety or welfare purposes. (Ord. 93-08 § 1, 1993: Ord. 80-29 § 1, 1980; prior code § 4275.1)."
There is a stricter standard after 10 PM.
The threat of a "complaint" has frequently been used by cops and hosts to drive away performers downtown. However the fact that someone doesn't like your music or even finds it too loud is not a legal basis for a citation. It has to be "unreasoanbly disturbing" as defined in this code section.
Most folks, however, find the threat of a citation, enough to make them retreat from their legitimate use of the public space. That's what police enforcing the Parking Lot Panic law rely on.
SUGGESTIONS FOR DEALING WITH A THREATENED TICKET
If a cop comes up to you and says "sorry, we've received a complaint, you'll have to stop playing music, it's too loud", your response might be: "how far away is the person complaining?" and "is my music in violation of the law, and if so, which law?"
The only applicable law I'm aware of is this Unreasonably Disturbing Noises law. [Be careful you're not violating the Porter- Reilly "Move Along Every Hour" law. You have to be warned by the cop or host an hour before they demand you move. The law applies only if you have a "display device" such as a table, hat, blanket on which the public can place tips.]
Ask the cop: "what do you think, officer--am I playing too loud?" If s/he comes back with "I don't know/I don't care/I have no opinion" or "no, but I didn't make the complaint/just doing my job", advise the officer to tell the complaining party that you will be subpoenaing the officer her/himself to testify that your music was not "unreasonable noise"--otherwise s/he'd have cited you without a complaint (since cops are required to do that--cite for law violations).
You might also ask what the person's problem is (elderly, can't sleep, some special sensitivity?). You might suggest also that you'll play a little more quietly or won't be there for very long. This kind of negotiating and person-to-person communicating was the agreed practice from 1980 to 2002 under the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines. In 2002 in merchant-pleasing election even move, the Council rammed through the Porter-Reilly law change (which also vastly expanded forbidden zones for sitting, peaceful sparechanging, political tabling, and performing-with-an-open-guitar-case).
Suggest that the cop advise the complainant that if s/he goes forward with the complaint in a "citizen's arrest" (that is, asks the officer to make out a ticket), you will ask the police officer to take your own complaint against the complainer for knowingly making a false police report, which is a misdemeanor. That is, a person may be personally disturbed by your music, but the standard is requires your activity to be "unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness".
This also suggests that if the person is a block or two away, say in a residence, the officer's claim that a complaint means you have to discontinue playing, is not reasonable either, particularly if the noise is not unreasonable to people nearer to whom it is obviously louder.
Note also that the second prong of the ordinance also seems to protect you. Your activity ALSO has to be "not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted". Street music is a form of first amendment activity, hence it is lawfully conducted. Assuming you have wedged yourself outside the 10' forbidden zone from buildings if you have a hat or open guitar case (if you have no such receptacle for tips, you can play anywhere you want not blocking pedestrian traffic).
IF THE COP'S AGAINST YOU...
If the cop says s/he thinks your music is unreasonable noise, ask those listening what they think, get their names and phone numbers. Go into an adjacent store and ask the workers/owner there if they find your music unreasonable. They can either come to court voluntarily or be subpoenaed.
Offer to take the citation and deal with the issue in court, but advise the officer you don't think there's probable cause since so many others disagree (assuming they do). (A good tactic is also to suggest you'll play somewhat more softly and do so)
The Downtown Association and the SCPD were holding regular seminars last year advising and encouraging merchants to call the police to remove performers, panhandlers, and poor people they were uncomfortable with. It's only common sense to fight back. If folks would like to hold some workshops on this subject, I'd be interested. Call me at 423-4833.
Full disclosure: I'm not a lawyer. The judges are notoriously pro-police. However the Unreasonably Disturbing Noices law is pretty explicit. That doesn't mean, of course, that the Coonerty-Mathews Council can't return in two weeks with a new anti-performer law. Of course, that would provoke (hopefully) quite a hubbub.
The more solidarity people have for vibrant street culture, the less likely folks are to be "moved on". I think the Drummer's Circle Victory above clearly shows this.
On the other hand, "Ignore your rights, and they'll go away"...as the bumper sticker sez.
As to HUFF accomplishments, we've made lists, but the most recent accomplishment--in concert with the Trash Orchestra and the rest of the community--has been to discourage power-happy patrolmen like Officer Aldridge from violating the First Amendment at the Drum Circle and costing the City lots of bucks in lawsuits. That was just two days ago. No need to clap.
Please post accounts of any repressive encounters you've had or observed re: street performers downtown. There's magic in the music and we don't want to see it gone!
But what about next Wednesday and the one after that? The drummers and those who support them need to meet and confer.
More important is the taking of our right to use public property and not allow the City to use unnecessary laws aimed at the poor, and unconstitutional in nature.
I am disabled and find myself in my car resting and paranoid I will be cited. There is already a law for anything that can happen in a parking garage or lot. This ordinance can and will only be selectively enforced. Its a waste of time, money, resources and is just another way to slowly take away all our free speech and rights the commons have traditionally throughout history been used for.
I was not present at the time this was taken. But thank you all who attended and fought for all our rights to use our own public space without a 15 min time limit.
Thank you Trash Orchestra and all the other musicians and community members that attended. I believe it was your numbers that kept surveying officers at bay. Thank you for standing up for my right to use the public property. Tim Rumford Sleepisarigh [at] live.com
By the way, that incessant drumming isnt healing, peaceful or karmic in any way. It's just juvenile, annoying attention-seeking and nothing more.
You say SCPD like it's a dirty word. You've villified Coonerty and BSSC for years. Now you're trying to portray "local merchants" as evil and untrustworthy?
Laughable, yet predictable. Keep spewing the propoganda robert; it works for me. You lose support and credibility with each subsequent exaggeration.
The drummers support the Farmer's Market. Why would they want to boycott the farmers and make them hurt more, as you have pointed out the farmers are just scraping by on meager returns on their investment. Having the drummers stand their ground (or sit on the ground) and refuse to leave, in an area that does not even come that close to the Farmer's Market; how can this cause hostility of any kind to spill over into the Farmer's Market area? Only those people who go out of their way to generate a confrontation, when they would otherwise be just shopping some 50 yards away, would even be affected by this.
How about if you take that tape recorder of yours and go over to the Farmer's Market area where the shoppers are and do a bit of a poll of shoppers who are walking by. Find out how many of them are pissed off at the drummers or how many of them like the drummers. Then the following Wednesday between 4-7PM, do the same poll in front of New Leaf on Pacific Ave, for customers you see coming out of New Leaf, and ask people why aren't they shopping at the Farmer's Market that day.
Robert is claiming that society, via government, must not regulate public space in any way. He actually feels that private property owners must also always act in the best interests of his miniscule constituency of sociopathic "activists". That is until one of them breaks into his car, at which time the police are his friends.
And all the while here, the good farming community suffers because the goings-on at the Farmer's Market that the Huffsters are so attached to are turning off so many potential participants. This is common knowledge. Except for the Huffsters, who'll probably tell us that they're shocked at the news.
BECKY OF HUFF WRITES: HUFF supports reasonable regulations of public space and proper professional police practices from the SCPD. We believe it is fine to enforce ordinances which outlaw obstructing a public sidewalk, unreasonable noise, littering, assault, vandalism, and harassment. We support police using professional and legal protocols according to law.
However, the 15-minute law prevents hundreds of innocent activities from happening on public property completely absent any meaningful need. Nor is it likely that this law will prevent all burglaries, assaults, or rapes. What is certain is that at 3AM on a rainy night, when a homeless woman takes refuge in an empty and cold concrete parking structure, the police can and will drive her out into the rain.
Thats what Ryan Coonerty has brought to us. And when we asked him why, he said "this law is constitutional because a parking lot is not a public forum."
You say that HUFF only wants to protest, or make a fuss? You are so wrong. HUFF was AT the Downtown Commission meetings when this item first came on their agenda (via the police department, btw). HUFF spoke out against it then. We reported on it. Robert broadcast on his radio show about it. HUFF opposed it when it went to city council. We staged a demonstration against it. We handed out flyers to tourists entering the parking lots warning them to leave in 15 minutes or they would be arrested.
HUFF members went on record opposing the expansion of the 15 minute law to the parking lots in November of 2007. We used the public comment time to raise our concerns. We read all the staff reports and visited the sites. We wrote letters opposing the law and contacted ACLU attorneys. We gathers signatures opposing the ordinance.
That we NOW support civil disobedience against the law is hardly proof that we ONLY wanted to protest or only want conflict. Only someone who was completely ignorant of HUFF's history for the past 24 months would make such an inaccurate statement.
But accuracy is not your game. Name-calling is what you like to do. And I bet you are doing it while sitting on a nice comfy chair inside a warm house, whilst hiding behind a pseudonym.
If you examine the discussion in indymedia.org/santacruz and santacruzindymedia.org, you'll see that the Downtown Commission and City Council never got or required solid police stats showing a particular "criminal" problem in the parking garages and lots significantly worse than elsewhere in downtown.
Ryan Coonerty even admitted to me in the one long conversation we had about the issue in 2006 that his staff complained more about "sidewalk problems" than about "parking garage problems". So, at best, this is all about pandering to the paranoid and gated-community mentality of some conservative staff, merchants, and residents by nervous politicians eager to privatize public space for private profit. At worst, it's a thumbs-up and downtown directive for an expanded "culture war" on the homeless, the young, the street community, and the non-commercial downtown.
It's like the Sleeping Ban, permit parking signs that ban parking during late night hours, the Blanket Ban, the removal of the benches, installation of "no sitting within 50' change making machines), making seating areas unsittable with pointy fences, and Downtown Ordinances that criminalize sitting, sparechanging, political tabling, and street performing for donation on 75% of the downtown sidewalks near buildings (and 100% of the sidewalks elsewhere).
I hope the community moves to restore parking lots and garages as the public spaces they have traditionally been. I see people, elderly folks chatting near the cars--for more than fifteen minutes, ignoring the law (actually ignorant of it, I'm sure--not believing anything so stupid and repressive could really be passed in Santa Cruz).
Yesterday the Trash Orchestra rehearsed for several hours on the top level of the River St. Parking Garage (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/18/18473439.php), observed and ignored by the parking meter attendent who drove through in her little vehicle chalking tires.
Since it was clear the orchestra was neither retrieving or parking a vehicle, they were in obvious flagrant violation of the law, yet ignored by city authorities that otherwise call in complaints on such matters.
I would have preferred to have a cop there observing the law being openly violated and then ignoring the issue as Officer Auldridge did at the Drum Circle Wednesday a week ago on January 9th when the Trash Orchestra joined the drum circle to support their right to be free of armed thug bullying.
Hopefully that will happen again this Wednesday (when showers are expected--bring your umbrella!). We need an attorney with guts and tenacity who is willing to work on a selective enforcement motioALERT: Drummers Being Hassled at Farmer's Marketn either to enjoin the law or to simply defeat it and offer a defense on a case-by-case basis. But the courage and persistence of the Trash Orchestra and others who continue innocent if "illegal" behavior set the stage for this kind of court case. And show the community just how hollow the claim to "equal enforcement of the laws" is.
I encourage folks to continue to follow the discussion at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/16/18472946.php ("ALERT: Drummers Being Hassled at Farmer's Market") and to get down to the Drum Circle Wednesday afternoon around 3:45 PM.
Here's hoping that the next twenty years are as good and productive as the last. Hurray!
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