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Indybay Feature
Keeping Santa Cruz Weird: Is Drumming a Crime?
by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
On September 10th, the City of Santa Cruz took measures trying to prevent the weekly gathering and drum circle in Parking Lot #4 alongside the Farmer's Market. New mesh fences and several police officers were not enough to prevent Raging Grannies and other free-thinkers from singing, playing instruments, sharing food and reclaiming an important community space under the trees. Police took surveillance photographs, passed out information, and harassed some people, but the drum beats and musical notes continued on for another week.
For more information, check out:

Raging Grannies and Trash Orchestra Defend Drummers from SCPD
§Santa Cruz Community TV
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
Interviewing Sergeant Harms
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
Seditious Beat
§Struck By Hit and Run Thursday
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Cedar Street
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Raging Grannies
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Kid's View
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
Is this child witnessing a crime?
§Shopper Support
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Food Not Bombs
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§St. Paul or Santa Cruz?
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
Resistance in the Streets of St. Paul Despite Police Violence
§Drum and Tree
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Car Photography
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
The police acted very strange for issuing a registration ticket. It took a half dozen cops to eventually write a ticket.
§Joe Schultz
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§Kid Tastes the Soup
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§India Joze
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM

§Protect Us From a Sanitized Downtown
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
§No 5 Story Parking Lot
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM
by ~Bradley Thursday Sep 11th, 2008 11:54 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Thank You!
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 7:28 AM
Great work as always Bradly. Thank you for seemingly being everywhere we need you!
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 5:24 PM
Thanks for the crisp, clear, relevant, and moving photos.

Thoughtful captions, good angles, nice colors...embarrassing the rest of us playing around with our camcorders and trying to piece together usable footage.
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 5:25 PM
Here's a comment I made (#352 in a long thread of largely bigoted blather )about the Parking Lot Protest over at

Where's the documentation of the "crime problem"?

Some days ago, I put in a Public Records Act requests for all letters, e-mails, memos, complaints, etc. to City Council, the Mayor, the staff, etc. for the last four months as well as all citations by the SCPD.

Today I reviewed the file that the City Clerk provided: 2 letters, 1 e-mail, 1 phone call (all critical of the Drum Circle) and several letters (from me mostly) supporting the right of public assembly.

The SCPD provided no documentation whatsoever.

That hardly constitutes a basis for destroying a recognized regular public assembly and closing a public assembly area (under the guise of "educational activity by the SCPD").

Not to mention posting the entire Downtown SCPD squad in the parking lot for 5 hours. Again, I ask, what is the cost of all of this?

No "crime problem" has been documented in the lot.

Just as no special "crime problem" was documented in stats reluctantly provided (and recently withheld) by Officer Zack Friend when Mayor Coonerty pushed the "15 Minute Trespass" Law through the Downtown Commission and City Council.

"Crime" is the pretext for eliminating a cultural event that some folks don't like. This is not okay and many of us recognized this and are willing to engage in civil resistance.

Civil resistance is sort of like "civil disobedience", except the point is not to make a symbolic protest or get beaten up by the police an hope the community feels sympathetic afterwards.

The point is to resist unconstitutional actions by city officials and the police by direct action.

People show up en masse to say with their bodies "if you do this to the drummers, you also have to do it to the rest of us."

People alone when approached by men in uniform with guns are easily intimidated. When a community resists oppressive police behavior in a group, it's not so easy to frighten people into giving up their rights.

Fences put up without public hearings in order to close off public space get torn down.

Police officers wasting public money and time harassing people get openly mocked and criticized.

Cops who lie to the media aobut this being an "educational exercise" get exposed.

Media mouthpieces (like Bookwalter) who serve as SCPD PR conduits get confronted.

Misleading hate propaganda involving needles, peepee, marijuana use, and such gets properly identified and true info put out.

That's what they call real democratic action by the community to restore basic constitutional rights.

Check out for actual photographs and eye witness accounts.

Or check it out in person next Wednesday yourself.
by Don Quiote Jr.
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 8:05 PM
You seem to joust at the same windmills day after day, year after year, and now, decade after decade.

..but you continue to appeal to the same minority constituency. I don't belittle that constituency, nor deny their right to a voice and opinion.
But at the same time, you seem to maintain the same pretense that in fact the majority support this viewpoint, and that that reality is being suppressed.

IMO, the reality is that you represent, and in a realistic way, the voice of a valid, but entrenched/minority, viewpoint.

So my question is: are you claiming that you represent the voice of the masses? I think your viewpoint is valid, but I think its the valid viewpoint of a miniscule percentage (and this is just my personal view).

Nothing wrong with speaking for a minority opinion. But I would be interested to hear you reply as to whether you agree that you speak for a small portion of the community, or if you feel that you speak for a majority who's voice is being silenced.
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 10:29 PM
I don't know how the community lines up on the issues that interest me. I do know that I don't claim to speak for any group of people, homeless or housed, but only for myself.

It's hard to judge how many people agree, since the issues I speak out on are rarely presented clearly or in a forum accessible to a lot of people.

I don't think Coonerty's Parking Lot Panic law, as I describe it, would get a majority vote.

At different times I believe thousands have opposed the Sleeping Ban. So for instance, we got thousands of signatures of registered voters in the late 90's seeking to put the Ban on the ballot (but, full disclosure, not enough to put it on--but this was probably because of inadequate resources on our part).

And Sentinel's very informal surveys of the 80s and 90s found that most people consider laws that criminalize the act of sleeping when there's inadequate shelter abusive.

It depends on the issue you're talking about. I think more folks believe in the right of access to public spaces and the right to public assembly if it's framed that way. On the other hand, if it's described as "cleaning up a public nuisance", which is how the Sentinel and the SCPD seem to regard police repression of the Drum Circle, you get a different line-up of opinion.

It's an important question, but one I don't really have a clear answer to.

I guess I'd say that most people are politically inactive because they believe (often accurately) that political structures are set up so that they can't make a difference, their time is taken up with wage slavery to pay rent, and they are understandably cynical about lying politicians.

Glad you're interested, though. And I thank you for your acknowledgement.

Ultimately it's more important that you speak up for what is right, however much of a minority you may be.
by Jan Harwood
Friday Sep 12th, 2008 11:08 PM
Man, those chess players and that little kid eating the free soup from Food Not Bombs look really subversive.
Better drive them out of our fair city. The police were pretty good, they were just "educating" us so that we would understand what a nest of vipers our drummers and their friends are, and stay away next time. However, that drum music is addictive. We're all hooked on it. It makes Wednesdays in Santa Cruz beautiful.
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Sep 13th, 2008 11:06 AM
Here is a photo of the police presence on Sept 4, 2008 where they systematically prevented any of the drummers or dancers from gathering. This they called an "Education program." They were "educating" people into staying away out of fear of arrest.
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Sep 13th, 2008 11:11 AM
While drummers were deterred on Sept 4th, they planned to come back in force on Sept 10th. Photo by HUFF.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 13th, 2008 11:52 AM
It was the Wednesday the 3rd that the cops bullifed and bluffed away the community from this public space.
by dandelion
Sunday Sep 14th, 2008 8:19 PM
it looks like i picked the wrong time to leave santa cruz, im currently doing food not bombs in arcata, and helped in santa cruz. they need your help and support, whatever that may be, now is the time to give. feed and shelter the peaceful revolution.

enjoy great peace,love,and harmony
(rnorse3 [at] Monday Sep 15th, 2008 10:45 AM
Petition. Please feel free to get signatures or distribute or sign. Call 423-Huff with any questions.
(rnorse3 [at] Monday Sep 15th, 2008 10:50 AM
Please call 423-HUFF with any reports of police misconduct, praise, or any reports from the street.
by Ryan Coonerty (posted by R. Norse)
Monday Sep 15th, 2008 1:34 PM

9.64.010 Use of downtown city parking garages and parking lots.
9.64.020 Parking or retrieving motor vehicles or bicycles – Time limitation.
9.64.030 Trespass.
9.64.040 Exceptions.
9.64.050 Warning.

Parking garages and parking lots owned or operated by the city of Santa Cruz in or adjacent to the Downtown Parking District (Parking District No. 1) shall be used by members of the public only for the purpose of parking and retrieving motor vehicles and bicycles and for no other purpose. Parking lots may also be used by pedestrians to walk from one sidewalk to another or to walk to buildings that border the parking lot. The parking lots herein referenced currently include parking lot numbers 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20a, 22, 23, 26 and 27 and will include any parking lots which, in the future, are made part of the Downtown Parking District.
(Ord. 2007-17 § 1, 2007: Ord. 2006-04 § 1 (part), 2006).

(a) Except as set forth in subsection (b) of this section, when parking a motor vehicle or bicycle in, or retrieving a motor vehicle or bicycle from, a parking garage or parking lot referenced in Section 9.64.010, no member of the public, whether driver or passenger, shall remain on the parking lot or garage premises for more than fifteen minutes.
(b) The fifteen-minute time period prescribed in subsection (a) of this section shall be extended to thirty minutes for disabled persons driving and parking vehicles that display disability placards issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles or any other governmental agency legally authorized to issue such placards.
(Ord. 2007-17 § 2, 2007: Ord. 2006-04 § 1 (part), 2006).

9.64.030 TRESPASS.
Any person who uses a city of Santa Cruz parking garage or parking lot referenced in Section 9.64.010 for purposes other than motor vehicle or bicycle parking or retrieval or pedestrian purposes in violation of Section 9.64.010 or who remains on such city of Santa Cruz parking garage or parking lot premises for longer than fifteen minutes in violation of Section 9.64.020(a) or thirty minutes in violation of Section 9.64.020(b) shall be guilty of trespassing, which offense shall be punishable as an infraction.
(Ord. 2007-17 § 3, 2007: Ord. 2006-04 § 1 (part), 2006).

9.64.040 EXCEPTIONS.
(a) This chapter shall not apply to any person or group of persons using a parking garage or parking lot owned or operated by the city of Santa Cruz for purposes other than motor vehicle or bicycle parking or retrieval when that person or group of persons is using the parking lot or garage pursuant to a permit issued by the city in accordance with another provision of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code.
(b) This chapter shall not apply to city employees engaged in the performance of city business or the maintenance of city parking lots or garages.
(c) This chapter shall not apply in areas of city parking garages and parking lots where there is posted permission to occupy those areas for the purpose of engaging in speech-related conduct and persons so occupying those posted areas are doing so in accordance with the posted permission.
(Ord. 2007-17 § 4, 2007: Ord. 2006-04 § 1 (part), 2006).

9.64.050 WARNING.
No person shall be cited for violating the provisions of this chapter unless that person has at least one time at any prior point in time received a written or verbal warning from a police officer, community services officer or other city employee responsible for the operation or maintenance of city garage and parking lots relative to the conduct which is prohibited under this chapter.
(Ord. 2006-04 § 1 (part), 2006).
by Robert Norse
Monday Sep 15th, 2008 4:12 PM
by My name is Brent.
Tuesday Sep 16th, 2008 10:49 PM
The irrepressible Human Spirit.
by Rico
Wednesday Sep 17th, 2008 8:00 AM
Robert, I appreciate the work you do and your well-argued and temperate responses here.

No matter how much someone is a minority, I am not sure I want to live in a "democracy" in which it is okay to marginalize and trample this minority opinion.

Clearly a goodly percentage of the well-heeled population in Santa Cruz find themselves in the comfortable position of being in the mainstream.
by a walking man
Thursday Sep 18th, 2008 2:46 AM
The farmers come down to sell their goods and hope people show up and buy. It is their living. It provides for people to eat. It is the market. Some others come to the scene to gather and contribute to the buzz. Now the contribution is bigger than the market. What do the farmers think? A good market for them? Time to find another place? What about the buyers? Who cares, keep on drumming?
by Donna Deiss
Monday Sep 22nd, 2008 3:40 PM
GORGEOUS photos. Anyone that complains and has never drummed in a drum circle has no idea of the bliss of playing the drum with others for hours. It integrates our community, our culture of hippies and gypsies and outsiders, SO prevalent in Santa Cruz. It is OK to be an amateur! It's not like banging on a drum kit, most anyone can follow the downbeat. The dancers and koi ball dancers and hula hoopers all experience the ancient trance and mediation of drumming. It is a COMMUNITY JAM and OPEN TO ALL> Blessings
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Sep 23rd, 2008 9:31 AM
Sentinel propaganda and comment babble to the contrary, Farmer's Market vendors didn't favor the police action against the Drum Circle. See my comment at .
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