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Indybay Feature
Blueshirts Erase Drum Circle: New Ban on Public Assembly Near Farmer's Market
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 5th, 2008 6:25 PM
Police established what apparently amounted to a public assembly dispersal unit in Parking Lot #4 Wednesday September 3rd from noon to 6 pm. Musicians, dancers, observers--all who've regularly gathered in this space for the last ten years were ordered to leave.
I wasn't there but continued to get reports by phone, e-mail, and directly on the street about the police officers, who reportedly “moved along” all musicians who attempted to play there. They may also have physically occupied the space under the trees usually used by the drum circle and Food Not Bombs to preempt and sabotage the weekly event.

REPORTS FROM THE FRONT
Duende reported by e-mail: “I spoke with the police... they said there were complaints. I told him those that appreciated the drumming far outnumbered the complaints and regretfully some know how to misuse the police for their personal reasons to break up a community. The cops then told me there were complaints about drug dealing. I responded that this was total bullshit. Drugs weren't an issue and actually who really gave a shit if people are getting high. If intoxication of an aggressive personality was an issue (and I've been intimidated by this type myself) then that should be addressed, one at a time... in a humane way. I also told them that I knew their resources were limited and it had to be frustrating to be forced to take less than humane and community supportive actions. One officer nodded, the other folded his arms tighter.”

The first I actually heard about the bizarre police decision was 4:30 PM Wednesday. I received a call from Donna Deiss. She reported that three officers, including Sgt. Michael Harms were standing in the middle of the lot, where drummers regularly play. They were directing all musicians and others to leave, saying there had 'been complaints'. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Valerie Christy (who subsequently sent me this e-mail). She spoke with anger and frustration about the situation and did some videoing of the area to document the police occupation and dispersal of public assembly and the counterculture there.

Valerie's e-mail: “Today the drum circle at the Farmers Market is not there. Nothing but an empty space,two cop cars,and three cops.They came up and told the group, that had just started to assemble, to leave today.And they dutifully left like good boys and girls in school on the playground.

People came by asking the cops what happened. People were yelling political slogans at them,one witness said. She also said she was going to stand there and fight for her rights alone. She said,'I have a right to be here.''Where's our community?', one young woman said, as she pushed her child in a stroller past the now empty space where drummers drummed, people danced, Food Not Bombs fed the poor,and all was peaceful.

Activists were alerted today.Will they come to the aid of the community? Will they come encourage us to fight for our rights?They did before. The Trash Orchestra came and played, the video cameras came ... and the drummers came back.

Come by next Wednesday and see what happens! Come show solidarity for your community who has a right to be in public space.”

Another e-mail from “Just Us” John:

“I'm sure you've heard already but those fuckers drove away the drummers from the Farmer's Market yesterday. They set up shop at 12:00 and drove away anyone who approached the tree area. When I got there at 5:30 there were still two cops standing against their patrol car. I asked them 'what happened, where is everyone?'. They stated that vendors have been complaining, and that there were people constatntly blocking the flow of incoming cars in the entrance way and creating public safety hazards. So they told people they had to go somewhere else. \There was was both an erie and sad silence walking around in the Farmer's Market yesterday. It sucked.

We need to call in the Trash Orchestra to the rescue!”

PUBLIC ASSEMBLY ILLEGAL?
It's still not clear to me what law(s) the SCPD were using or what they're likely to use next Wednesday if they again attempt to disrupt a public assembly (actually a misdemeanor crime—which I've been charged with, but never tried for). I haven't spoken yet to Sgt. Harms, who can be quite forthcoming, and who may have been the Senior officer there.

The “Parking Lots and Garages Trespass Law” is the most likely law police will use next Wednesday, since it makes it illegal to (a) linger in a parking lot unless you are parking or retrieving a vehicle, and (b) then only for 15 minutes and while actually parking or retrieving that vehicle.

STRATEGIES FOR RESTORING CIVIL LIBERTIES IN SANTA CRUZ
Various resistance strategies are possible. These include: taking tickets and challenging them. Asking to be taken to a magistrate before agreeing to sign the ticket. Contacting the ticketing officer's sergeant and asking to speak to her/him first. Playing an instrument from the roof of a legally parked vehicle, leaving after 15 minutes and returning. Riding your bike in and out at 15 minute intervals. Walking off the property every 15 minutes and then returning—while declining to respond to officer comments about “do you have a car here?” etc.

Remember the cardinal rules for dealing with the police:

+++Ask “am I free to go?” and if not told you're under arrest, to simply walk away from the officer.
+++Don't respond to questions other than with questions for the officer—such as “why are you ere?” “have you had a complaint?” “who made it?” Seek, but don't give information.
+++You have no requirement to provide ID or identify yourself at all, if asked. If you're being arrested or cited, doing so shortens the process.

HISTORY OF THE STRUGGLE
The struggle against this ordinance—vigorously proposed by Mayor Coonerty--has been fought at City Council for two years (and lost).

Most recently Zach Friend of the SCPD stonewalled Sheila Coonerty of the Downtown Commission. Sheila is Mayor Coonerty's aunt, but nonetheless an opponent of the Coonerty's Parking Lot Panic law. When she asked for the police stats justifying the law and showing how it had worked for the last six months, Friend in essence told her he wouldn't make them available without explicit authorization from City Council. See: “Cops Stonewall Commissioner Coonerty” http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/07/20/18518034.php?show_comments=1#18520406

The struggle to take back one lot--Lot #4--for four hours on Wednesday afternoon--was won on the streets in January and February because people were willing to risk arrest and assemble in numbers for civil resistance.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Now the police have suffered the setback of a likely defeat in the Deiss case where Sgt. Christian LeMoss broke the elderly disabled woman's arm, falsely charged her with resisting arrest, and apparently gotten the SCPD higher-up's to cover his criminal conduct. There are indications that the City is scrambling to present a financial settlement to Deiss to avoid embarrassing disclosures of LeMoss's excessive force and the SCPD's subsequent cover-up.

Nonetheless the War on the Poor goes on. Last Saturday night Officer Winston reportedly kicked a homeless man in the face and body as he lay on the levy. The man feared this was direct retaliation for his previous criticism of Winston on FRSC.
(http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb080824.mp3 , http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb080831.mp3 , and http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb080904.mp3 ).

The Drum Circle struggle presumably can be won again--particularly with the massive opposition to the Cathcart/Cedar proposed parking garage expressed at the recent City Council candidate forum where only Coonerty didn't oppose it. If people actually organize and take the risks necessary.

HISTORY OF THE STRUGGLE
The whole thing is chronicled at length on indybay.org/santacruz in a variety of places:

Peaceful Parking Lot Percussionists Pounce On Police Peeper
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/31/18476145.php

Local ACLU Statement on the Parking Lot Panic Law
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/28/18475525.php

Taking Back the Tarmac--Santa Cruz Reclaims People's Parking Lot #4
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/23/18474460.php

ALERT: Drummers Being Hassled at Farmer's Market
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/16/18472946.php

THE SHAME OF THE LOCAL ACLU
The ACLU never came forward or issued any statements supporting the right to public assembly when people began to protest, nor did they offer any legal support for them. To the contrary, on September 24th, they awarded Ryan Coonerty the Hammer of Justice award:

Keeping Santa Cruz Weird: Coonerty Gets 'Hammer of Justice' Award from Local ACLU
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/29/18530949.php

While Mayor Coonerty Hammers Away at Civil Liberties, the ACLU Awards Him Sunday
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/22/18528661.php

ACTIVISTS--TAKE ACTION!
Doing something is certainly better than doing nothing, but this kind of repression requires a strong response or it will become business as usual.

Mark off Wednesday September 10th at 3:30 PM as the time to restore Public Assembly in Parking Lot #4. Contact fri ends, media, musicians, photographers, and activists. Bring a picnic lunch or buy one locally from your friendly Farmers Marketeer next door.

HUFF also plans to petition and protest in front of Coonerty's Bookshop Santa Cruz Sunday the 7th around 3:30 PM. Coonerty is the Mayor and the author of the Parking Lot Panic law (as I call his ban on public assemblies there). He should be greeted with ridicule and protest wherever he goes in his official capacity. He still refuses to release a public schedule of his slated public appearances and the his datebook of meetings he's had with lobbyists. He is running for a second term and should not only be defeated but rejected as an object lesson in rejecting his repressive "empower the police" and "cut back public comment and public space" vision of Santa Cruz.

Coonerty will also be at City Council when it returns from summer recess meets Tuesday, September 9th. Folks can speak (for a shortened 2 minutes at Oral Communications--held at 3 PM and 7 PM.

The next City Council candidate forum is 7-11 PM Wednesday September 10th held by the People's Democratic Club, the Santa Cruz Action Network, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance at the Vets Hall at 846 Front St. Demand the candidates repeal Coonerty's outrageous laws, and turn back other anti-homeless laws like the Sleeping Ban and the Downtown Ordinances. City Council also needs to pass a long-delayed resolution, approved by the Citizens Police Review Board before it was strangled, opposing selective enforcement by the SCPD.

City Council candidate contact info: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/09/01/18531701.php?show_comments=1#18533345

For those who like e-mailing:

Contact Don Zimmerman of the ACLU to suggest they send down lawyers, cameras, and advocates, since they originally opposed this law: donzim [at] aol.com .

Contact the Santa Cruz City Council to demand they conduct a full review of the ordinance as promised by those who passed it. This review should include full police stats showing the alleged “crime wave” that prompted the law with indications on how crime has dropped in those lots with comparative figures from elsewhere in the City. SCPD propagandist Zach Friend should be instructed: citycouncil [at] ci.santa-cruz.ca.us .

Contact Mayor Ryan Coonerty to demand his special interest “public assembly ban” law be repealed and additional public space opened: rcoonerty [at] ci.santa-cruz.ca.us .
§Take the Power Back
by Tim Rumford/ Val Christy (Sleepisaright [at] gmail.com)
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 12:17 AM
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
Here is a video showing the empty parking lot last Wednesday besides a few officers. Includes shots of last years protests , drummers circles, the arrest of Marry and more. People gather here to eat, to feed others, to communicate and share a feeling of community. It has gone on for years without trouble with exception to when the police show up and harass musicians and others who gather there under the guise of the 15 minute Parking Lot Panic Law. We stopped it last year. We can do it again. Last year an unknown amount of money was spent on police time spent doing surveillance, harassment and watching people play music and feeding the poor. I would hope the police can find better things to do in our community. Yes drums can be a bit loud. But if we can do video interviews during a loud protest and hear the person, it certainly is not breaking any sound laws. It is one day a week. If you leave people with no place to legally gather, they will not simply leave. They will eventually rebel out of necessity.

Take the Power Back!

Support the Farmers Market. Be prepared, be kind, know your rights and take a stand.
§Guess not, it won't upload my flyer.
by Tim Rumford
Monday Sep 8th, 2008 3:47 PM
flyer.pdf_600_.jpg
My flyer was in the wrong format this should work. Thanks!
Tim
§Another Flyer
by HUFF (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Sep 8th, 2008 3:59 PM
early_september_flyer.pdf_600_.jpg
Here is another flyer for distribution.
Add Your Comments

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Jdub
Friday Sep 5th, 2008 11:18 PM
So if all it takes is a complaint from the community to get the pigs to show up and kick out the musicians, who can I complain to to get the pigs kicked out. I don't like them there. They harsh on the whole community scene. I regularly attend the farmers market with my two year old son and he loves to dance to the drums. Having cops lurking around always makes me edgy, I don't trust any of them. I wish they'd go fight some violent crime where people are actually getting hurt. They're wasting my tax dollars standing around with their thumbs in their asses checking out all the hippy chicks. I'm getting really fed up with this overbearing police shit that's going on in our country right now.
by curious
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 11:40 AM
Why cant the limited # of drumers use an other area. Say the beach. It is an open space. Is it the principal or what? I see both parties(vendors v. drummers) seeing their purpose more important then the other. Since the market is already established, why not move the drumming to an area that doesn't conflict with others.

Just wonder'n
by Tim
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 2:00 PM
Hello,
Good question. I think the answer is also another question. Why give up a constitutional right just because your asked? The Drummer's Circle and the Farmers Market has traditionally been in harmony with each other. Also public space is shrinking rapidly. Why should a peaceful gathering that has gone on for years move? Downtown ordinances that make it illegal to sit within so many feet of this and that, the removal of benches and bathrooms, the addition of change machines strategically placed to stop people from gathering or simply sitting down, has left little room for anyone to gather without harassment. Also, people are harrassed at the beach too.

The only law they can use to disperse people from the lot is the 15 minute parking lot trespass law, which in my humble opinion is far from constitutional. However if anyone is doing anything illegal, any officer can arrest that person. There is a law for everything and anything that can happen in a parking lot. This law is only a way for the police to approach people without probable cause in these lots. So why not just move like good little girls and boys? Because its wrong and it is the peoples right to be there. I am not a Drum Circle person, meaning I am not there each week. But I did stand up for their right to be there last year and I will this year too. If there is violence, or anything else going on illegal in any parking lot, the cops can deal with it. Last year they spied on us, yet they never found anything to arrest anyone for with exception to Marry, who's arrest had nothing to do with anything that occurred in this lot and was ridicules, and even stupid of the officer, who you can see has his gun sticking out for anyone to grab as he arrests her in a large crowd alone.

I know there are issues downtown, but squeezing people into smaller and smaller areas will not fix the problem, it will only escalate it until people eventually really rebel. I would rather fight for our rights now peacfully with non violence.
by curious
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 4:11 PM
Ok, I see you r point but I dont agree with it completely. I think the noise the drums bring is a tempo that can interfere with the market. The crowds from the circle interfere with people coming in and out. But your point about shrinking space is well taken.

Thank you for the civil reply!
by Tim
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 8:30 PM
I appreciate your comment and reply and your honesty. I understand your position. There is an element downtown that I have reports from other homeless "that some are ruining things for everyone else", particularly at night. It seems its getting worse. I have seen it too. But I have to say, I could say the same thing about the apartment building I live in. People are rude, loud, and its dangerous. I am nervous to walk around here at night for fear of the housed.

I understand your concern about the level of noise, but we all put up with the pounding hammer from hell for months upon months when they were building near Clouds. I had to hear a year of jack hammers here where I live when they were doing other development. The sound ordinances are weak for that very reason, the sound of development. But I very much applicate a rational civil comment and dialog, and I think most of the drummers are approachable about the scene there. That was never tried. Instead it was pass a law and use it for certain purpose, selective enforcement.

I think we need to stop judging the actions of one poor person based on another's and end the stigma for a start. If we looked into the homes of everyone, we would be just as disturbed, probably MUCH more. My point being is, yes there are people who can ruin any event, or your stroll down the mall, but this event has gone on for over ten years without any horrible incidents or violence. From it has spawned good things. The feeding of poor human beings. But even a few people who play music there met and now play at a nursing home in Watsonville, bringing great joy to the entire facility each week as well as a very good dying friend of mine. They are begged to come back and play there each week and from that they were invited and played at the stroke center a few weeks ago to great applause because they are very good, and they did it for free. Rides may have been paid for, but this is voluntary community service.

I just think it is a wast of money, resources and time and breaches constitutional law and that makes it worth fighting against.
Thank You!
Tim
by David Meyberg (posted by Robert Norse)
Sunday Sep 7th, 2008 10:48 AM
Robert,

While I am a true supporter of free speech, peaceful assembly and communication, I would like to bring a few observations to your attention. While I am not one who has or would complain to the police, I live several blocks away from the farmers market and the drumming which goes on for hours sometimes, even tends to bother me.

The fact is, it is very loud. The sound which is non-discriminatory, imposes on every person shopping, conversing and otherwise sharing information by word of mouth that would occur at any community event or gathering.

Why must the farmers market be the venue (time and place) for the drum circle? Why every week? Why do they not play at a place remote where the sound is less disruptive to others who do not wish to be subject to it? Kind of a passive aggressive move on part of the drummers. They gather to play at an audience who is not necessarily there to see or listen to them. I am not sure if drumming (in my opinion) is protected speech or protected conduct. While it is expressive art, I am not sure what the message is if any.

I do appreciate, respect and in fact love you as a champion to protect peoples' civil liberties, in this case, I am not sure how compatible the drumming activity is at a farmers market. And by the way, yesterday, I did pleasantly notice how much more calm, relaxing and tranquil it was where I live and at the market. I just wanted to share my thoughts in the spirit of contribution to the market place of ideas....

Your friend,
David Meyberg
by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 8th, 2008 11:24 AM
The Raging Grannies, the Trash Orchestra, and caterer Joe Schultz have all contacted me and indicated they will be at the Drum Circle Wednesday 3:30 PM on September 10th.

I received the following e-mail from Pat Arnold:

From: parnold [at] bridgemysteries.com
Subject: Re: Comment posted on "Santa Cruz Police Drive Drum Circle Away"
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2008 09:32:53 -0700
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com

The Raging Grannies will be at the Farmer's Market trees on Wednesday the 10th at 3 pm. We will sing the Drummer's song and more if you want it.

Peace and love
Pat
by Tim Rumford
Monday Sep 8th, 2008 3:35 PM
Here is a flier. Feel free to pass them out if you wish. More are coming from others shortly.
by ㅇㅀㅇ롷ㅇㄹㄴㅁㅇㄻㄴㅇ
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 2:40 AM
The drummers were clearly driven out of Santa Cruz by the exhorbitant rents, not the police.
by Tim Rumford
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 8:50 AM
You can find this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhifhRLoGXY
as well as additional comments on the issue. Indybay's server seems to be being a little slow on streaming. If you have trouble you can watch it there.

Peace
Tim
by Valerie C.
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 10:20 AM
In Africa, it's such a tradition to drum that you could not get away from it. It happens everyday. It's part of their lifestyle. It is for gathering community together to share food and themselves. Dancing, getting to know each other, sharing news.... It has become a simular one for many people here, it's brings us together so we can see each other. Just as the Farmers Market brings people together.
But the circle is for the ones who can't afford the stuff that is in the market. Hence Food-Not-Bombs feeds there.I think, sound-wise getting together to sing would be better but...the drumming is the choice of community for it's traditional reasons that go far back to primative days.SAFE (who meet in front of New Leaf on Tuesdays and Wednesdays)gets together for the same reasons. Not just to sing but to meet and support each other as a community. Hence...the right to assemble IS in jeopardy here.

by Ryan Coonerty (posted by Robert Norse)
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 12:05 PM
I received the following e-mail from Valerie Promise, a street performer and computer programmer who e-mailed Ryan asking "why?":

> > From: Ryan Coonerty
> > Subject: Drum Circle
> > To: vpromise [at] yahoo.com
> > Date: Tuesday, September 9, 2008, 12:56 AM
> > Valerie,
> >
> > Thanks for writing. The city has had more than a dozen complaints from farmers and patrons about the drum circle. The reason that it is not a first amendment issue is that a parking lot is not first amendment forum -- just like a drum circle could not form in other public areas (like a library, in the middle of the road, or in the county building). The drum circle could and does form in first amendment areas like sidewalks (when they are not blocking walkers) and parks.
> >
> > Hope this helps.
> >
> > Ryan
> >
> > Ryan Coonerty
> > Mayor
> > City of Santa Cruz
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 12:07 PM
Valerie Promise then sent the following e-mail to the Mayor and I responded to her:

> Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 07:41:39 -0700
> From: vpromise [at] yahoo.com
> Subject: Re: Drum Circle
> To: RCoonerty [at] ci.santa-cruz.ca.us
>
> Thx, R!
>
> What about the 2nd amendment, or freedom of assembly, whatever number that is?
>
>I don't understand how it would be possible to create 'forums' inselected public places. How is every public place *not* subject to 1stamendment (and other civil liberties) considerations? Can you point meto any legislation that describes how such areas can be set apart?
>
> Thx,
>
> V.

VP:

Coonerty's letter begs the question of what police are doing dispersing a peaceful assembly. The answer is that his Parking Lots and Garages Trespass Law has made all behavior in parking lots other than walking through or parking or retrieving a vehicle during a period of 15 minutes a crime punishable by fine. This outlaws reading a book in your car for 16 minutes (or any time at all, since the only legitimate purpose, according to Coonerty, for being in a parking lot is parking or retrieving a vehicle). It also outlaws any casual conversation while standing about, sitting under a tree, reading a flyer, or any other of a hundred nonpolitical activities that have traditionally been done there.

He also outlaws petitioning, tabling, standing on a soapbox and speaking, distributing literature, etc. It's a sad testimony to Santa Cruz's surrender to the 'Guantanamo' mentality that we haven't challenged this law either in court or through direct action in the last year in any persistent way.

The exception to this is the Drum Circle, a regular activity next to the Farmer's Market which has been going on for a decade or more. And that challenge--since it was successful because of the numbers of people involved--was successful back in January (see the stories on indybay.org/santacruz).

Genuine noise complaints, traffic problems, etc. can be dealt with by other laws. I suggest you ask Coonerty for copies of every complaint he has received--as he is required to give you under the Public Records Act.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and a similar stateConstitution provision)does state 'Congress shall make no lawrespecting an establishment of religion, orprohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom ofspeech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably toassemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.'

Coonerty's argument is a legalistic one. It relies on court decisions restricting application of the First Amendment using such concepts as 'time, place, and manner' restrictions and 'limited forum'. Coonerty is a lawyer creating law to forward the vision and agenda of a special interest group (some merchants, the staff, some conservative residents). He's also ironically a constitutional law teacher at UCSC and Cabrillo.

The real force of our counterargument is that the traditional use of parking lots and garages in Santa Cruz has been for a variety of purposes other than parking. Our power lies in the fact that this law criminalizes all kinds of innocent behavior and does so unnecessarily and profoundly violates traditional community standards regarding the use of these previously public spaces.

However courts will not act to protect the rights of people unless people assert them.
And whatever courts do, it is ultimately the community, through its action that creates the going standard. I.e. if people refuse to obey this law in a regular persistent and massive way, it will likely be abandoned or changed. If not, folks will internalize and go with with the police flow...

Another irony is that the ACLU, as you probably know, gave Coonerty the Hammer of Justice award, while opposing his Parking Lot Panic law, as i call it.

Of course, civil liberties for the rich and for the poor have always had two different meanings.

Thanks for the info. Hope you like the Blackburn house. I'll be reprinting Ryan's letter and thanks for forwarding it to me.

Robert Norse

P.S. Hope you can make it tomorrow at 3:30 PM to restore the right of public assembly in Parking Lot #4.
by brent
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 4:53 PM
I happen to know first hand that the drum circle has been a powerful positive influence on many of these folks who participate.
They feel creative, in community & spirited, and they are doing something that takes them away from the other more notorious
behaviors of the street, such as drugs & alcohol etc. The drum circle has successfully helped many make a change in their
lives. It is an intentional activity and becomes a positive weekly anchoring; a focused meditation of sharing and giving of themselves.
You may say that it is loud and bothersome but so are the sounds of traffic, construction and airplanes. If you've ever strolled by
the drum site you'll notice many many people sitting and smiling, in conversation and enjoying the atmosphere that the drumming
and drummers provide. It is a beautifying of public space... it IS art!! It IS community!! I encourage you who find yourselves having
a negative reaction to the drum circle to recontext it within. As our society increasingly limits public space and freedom of expression,
especially from the poor, the drum circle and those who enjoy it serve as a potent reminder that the human spirit is alive and well.
Please support this activity rather than attack it or speak against it. These are our brothers and sisters and they need our support
now more than ever.
by Serious response
Tuesday Sep 9th, 2008 5:44 PM
You say "it is our community".

...but I respectfully respond that it's not my community, nor one that I want to engage in nor have my family exposed to.

Where you see fellowship, smiles, and healing...I see a group of spaced out people who appear to be either under or just out-from-under the use of drugs or alcohol.

So my personal opinoin, and that of many of my friends and peers, is that I go to the Farmer's Market to buy excellent fruit and vegetables, not to see the drum circle. And I do view it as a negative, not a positive. It's not neutral; it can't be ignored.

You support it, and that's valid and cool. I don't, and that's equally valid and cool. But please don't put blanket statements out there about it being our community and we support it. That's not the case, and the fact that members of our community are calling for it to be controlled are evidence of that reality.

Those who say it's a tiny number of control freak business owners and the cops are deluding themselves and ignoring the voice of the majority.

One thing is certain; tomorrow should be interesting.
by brent
Wednesday Sep 10th, 2008 1:11 AM

I know lots of parents who joyfully bring their children to dance and enjoy the community spirit of the drum circle area. Lots of folks bring
their newly purchased fresh fruits and crepes to eat with friends nearby. It is a happy harmonious atmosphere. Sure there may be a couple of folks who might be judged as being a little out of it and because it is a Food Not Bombs feeding area, there are poor and homeless types there
to eat and enjoy the music. To say that any of this is negative shows what type of person you are... the type who looks at a community
of friends and sees a dangerous mob.

Just do us all a favor, park your
SUV in the lot across the street and walk wide around our happy party and go buy your free ranged zucchini and leave us the heaven alone.
Or better yet, take just a moment and look at the world with beginner's eyes and see what beauty there is. Downtown is just not going to
be filled with the the good clean folks you may wish to see in your whitebread dreams... but they are real people and they love you.
by Craig
Wednesday Sep 10th, 2008 4:35 AM
I think "Serious response" has a great point, and those who love the drum circle tend to gloss over the fact that it is very LOUD and intrusive on everyone for several blocks around. "Serious response" is doing his thing, and you are doing yours, but yours is affecting everyone else whether they like it or not. Coonerty's email is right; you can't set up a drum circle just anywhere and call it free speech.

And I LOVE Valerie C.'s comment. Because every time I've walked by that drum circle, I see SOOOO many "Africans" there enjoying their "traditional" activity. (that's sarcasm, by the way, for the humorly impaired. Like all of Santa Cruz, the drum circle is lily white, except for the dirt, though with the forced white-guy dreds I can see the desire to become "African" there).
by Tim Rumford
Wednesday Sep 10th, 2008 10:37 AM
I understand people opposition to the noise aspect. However when does 12 complaints become the wider community? If they were breaking sound laws, oodles of tickets would have been written already. The current laws prevent anyone from legally being able to congregate practically anywhere downtown. Coonerty suggests the sidewalk, if it doesn't block anyone and conforms to his dozens of laws on where people can sit, stand, etc. Do you really want the circle to move to the Mall? Maybe we could have mini circles on every corner so its legal under Connerty's great plan to keep control of downtown, which has worked oh so well over they years. Or maybe the small "free speech zone" in front of Book Shop Santa Cruz! Even if they disperse it from were it is now, whats next? Possibly just what I said. Isn't better to have it where you at least know where its going to be, so if your sound sensitive you can avoid it? Winter is just around the corner and the it will become much less of a crowd. sad it has to come to all this over a largely peaceful group and 12 complaints.
by Sum Dim
Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 3:38 AM
Valerie C, I grew up in Africa. Yes, drumming is common in social settings there. But drum circles don't attract heroin addicts who pee on the sidewalk and fight with policemen. Doing that sort of thing will most likely get you beaten to within an inch of your life and then shot in the head over an open sewer, to be quickly forgotten by the rest of the tribe. And no, no one is going to stand there and engage you in an argument about your First Amendment rights. Ask Morgan Tsvangirai. So, don't conflate this anti-social activity y'all engage in with tribal customs in African countries that have strong social codes and deep roots in ancient traditions. Robert Norse arguing that the drum circle is a "tradition", because the police have let it go for the last ten years, is not the same thing as actual traditions that reach back for millenia.

By the way, Robert, "who gives a fuck" about people getting stoned in a public parking lot? I do. And you're going to listen up because my opinion matters here also, and I pay more than you do to have one.

Thanks for responding to my complaints among others, Ryan. It's so heartening to see a City leader with real spine. You are an inspiration to all of us.
by Domingo
Thursday Sep 18th, 2008 7:48 PM
Last post re: Rhodesia or whatever...

Why not Kuzanga Marimba?

They sound nice. Not too loud. Would make Mugabe take note.

Rights of assembly should not be abolished for lack of good music.

Put good music in once a week or so. Good music encourages riff-raff to bolster up, shave and what-not.

Blessed assemblies encourage tourism and promote housing retail values.

Housing retail values affect local business.

Local businesses affect the overall economy.

Focus on extreme inflation might benefit the US right now. Look us to where we're heading.

What would Mugabe say?

Global warming is best approached first by buying local organic produce.

Do not pinch the wrong bud in the head.

Everybody shave, wash and buck up for the next community gathering.

Kutamba.
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