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Victory at Parking Lot #4 -- The beat goes on!
Video of the Sept 10th protest to support the drummers circle with commentary by Tim Rumford & Robert Norse.
Victory -The Drum Circle re-claimed!
The Raging Grannies, the Trash Orchestra and throngs of community members came out to support The Drum Circle. Correction to the video which I edited. There were two tickets given out, one for smoking marijuana which is documented in this video and one for a car registration issue.
No tickets were given for drunk in public, littering, spitting, public nuisance, drug sales, urination or anything else.
Mainstream Media Reports can be found with video here -
KCBA Fox News local affiliate -
The Santa Cruz Sentinel -
I think its important to note that the 15 minute panic law has yet to be used in this or last years protests. I begin to wonder if the City believes they may have passed an unconstitutional law that can only be selectivity enforced – time will tell.
I realize the police have their role and the protesters and people have theirs. Opinions differ within the community about the circle and everyone has a right to their opinion and the right to express dissent. Many people suggest it be moved to the Cliffs, but that simply moves it to someone else's neighborhood.
According to the Sentinel article
“As a result, police are launching what they call an education campaign, letting drummers and their associates know that blocking the parking lot driveways, congregating on the sidewalk and drinking alcohol in the parking lot at Cedar and Cathcart streets, next to the farmers market, will not be tolerated.”
Which is it, a crackdown or an education campaign?
In my humble opinion if they want to waste tax dollars using officers to spend hours upon hours playing hall monitor that's fine. The people can manage themselves and prove that police efforts are not needed if that is the true goal of the police and city. I do believe the drum circle is a peaceful event and the more the city continues to make an issue of it, the more trouble will ensue.
I do hope the drummers and others will make an effort not to block traffic and sustain their right to be there. The police statements are difficult to decipher. "We're not looking to point blame in the direction of the drummers," Clark said. "But some of it is the element that the drum circle attracts."
Is the liquor store responsible for the people it attracts to the area? Are the bars responsible for the fights, urine and car accidents that spawn from their alcohol sales? How many tickets for alcohol, hard drugs or violence has there ever been at the circle? Anyone can complain.
Although I appreciate the officers being approachable their looming presence was unneeded and a huge waste of City resources. The ticket for marijuana use was a good example of the uselessness of the Drug War, particularly marijuana.
The Sentinel also reported that the Drum Circle was simply trying to “Keep “Santa Cruz Weird”. Although no one person speaks for the circle and no name were given for who sated this. Remind me again who sells the “Keep Santa Cruz weird” bumper stickers & who profits the most from this slogan?
Santa Cruz use to have the Copper House where loud music and dancing in the street was not only permitted , but happened on a daily basis all day long everyday of the week. People like now lived nearby above this area.
There is a culture in Santa Cruz that is deeply embedded and will not simply disintegrate. People will have to learn how to get along on both sides of the issues. In my humble opinion I believe this is possible and obtainable and where the most energy should be spent and will require change from all sides.
Peace and thanks to all who supported the Drum Circle.
Robert Norse wrote -
REMOVING THE PUBLIC NUISANCE FENCES
About the time I reached Parking Lot #4, the Ragging Grannies were going through the Drummer Boy's Song, massed on the sidewalk with a crowd spilling out into the street around them next to the Farmer's Market. I moved my car to allow "Jumbogumbo" Joe Schultz to park his truck and unload his spine-stiffening soup. By the time I'd found a parking place, the crowd had moved back to the trees in the center of the lot where the Drummers have been playing for 10 years. The green mesh fences around two areas had been breached, and the Trash Orchestra was pounding away.
Eventually someone or ones toppled the third fence, and the community retook the public space.
Sgt. Harms, Officer Albert, and a new cop (my apologies for not having his name) roamed the lot , urging people to move out of the way--even when no moving vehicles were approaching.
TICKETING AN ACTIVIST
Rico of the Trash Orchestra got cited for expired registration that wasn't really expired (it was valid but his plates supposedly didn't reflect it). Becky of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) and Valerie of SAFE (Society for Artistic Freedom and Expression/Streetperformers Against Foolish Enforcement) wielded video cameras.
I did some videoing and some audio recording, which I hope to play tomorrow night on Free Radio Santa Cruz around 6 PM. My in-studio guest will be PBJ, arrested two Saturdays ago by the infamous Sgt. LeMoss for talking back (the formal charge: public intoxication). It'll be archived a few days later on the http://www.huffsantacruz.website.
Flame fire juggling, dancing, soup slurping, petitioning (soon to be posted on line) and incessant drumming were the order of the day. One man got a citation for smoking marijuana. He said he had a back condition and no money to finance a doctor's letter and a medical marijuana card.
Sorry I missed the part where the three assembly-quelling fences got torn down by the people.
DISCUSSIONS WITH SGT. HARMS
Sgt. Michael Harms claimed that he and his officers had "driven away noone" the week before, contrary to all reports I've received from drummers. I even asked during a drumming break if anyone had "left voluntarily" as Sgt. Harms insisted had happened. No one said they had. All who discussed the matter at all said they'd been intimidated into leaving or reported being told that the drum circle had moved and the police and mental health worker were "having a meeting" on the Drum Circle spot.
Sgt. Harms claimed he had announced there would be no tickets under Coonerty's Parking Lot Panic law, and said he was on the lookout for more serious crimes like open container, marijuana possession and sales, and blocking traffic.
He repeatedly proposed that the Drummers move elsewhere because of the 30-40 complaints he'd received in the last month (I hope I have those figures right). He didn't give the stats on how many tickets he'd actually issued. He also said he'd never issued an infraction citation from a third party unless he subsequently saw the crime himself.
Sgt. Harms insisted all he wanted to do was guarantee everyone's safety and deal with problems at the Drum Circle the community had complained about (though he seemed to feel the drumming itself was a problem).
MARY'S QUESTION: CAN I DRUM NEXT WEEK?
Mary, a drummer who was carrying a guitar, was one of the last to leave. She asked Sgt. Harms whether she could play next week if she left every fifteen minutes and then returned to the property. First the Sgt. said "yes, that won't create a problem". Then when asked to commit himself, he said "no".
His suggestion: go back to city council or the voters to change the law. Yet apparently Sgt. Harms can "change the law" whenever he wants--since today scores of people visibly violated the same law and Harms did nothing (suggesting that it would provoke too much tumult).
The lesson is plain: if the people show up in force, absurd laws get momentarily set aside. Once the public presence is gone, the cops creep back to continue sabotaging public assemblies they consider inappropriate. A lesson to know next week.
The police were also taking extensive notes so it's not unlikely that there may be some long-distance tickets issued subsequently.
Good work, everyone! Next time, we need a few participant cars and/or bikes parked on the lot. Everyone else, can then walk off the lot every fifteen minutes, then walk back on. This method isn't foolproof, but does create enough lack of probable cause to hopefully inhibit the Temptation to Ticket.
If police ask questions, suggest they consult the library for a copy of the Constitution (i.e. don't answer questions about who you are, whether you have a car, etc.). Ask them questions about who ordered this crackdown, how many sleeping tickets they've issued late, how much the operation is costing, are they on overtime?, can you speak with their sergeant about the waste of public money.
If people do get ticketed before 3:45 PM (around the time the courts are likely to close), consider asking to be taken to a magistrate to determine if there's probable cause before you sign your citation (don't refuse to sign, simply say you want to talk with a magistrate first).