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Indybay Feature

Keeping Public Spaces Public

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Event Type:
Party/Street Party
Robert Norse
Location Details:
In parking lot #4 at Cedar and Cathcart--the lot next to the Wednesday Farmer's Market. At the traditional spot used by the community drummers for the last 10 years under the trees.

Come defend the weekly community gathering from police and political harassment. Food Not Bombs regularly fed there--except on September 3rd--when police staked out the area and dispersed the participants.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be petitioning and copwatching there.

A description of last week's successful restoration of public space can be found at:
"Victory at Parking Lot #4 -- The beat goes on!"

A series of excellent photographs of the restored Drum Circle (with supportive Trash Orchestra, Raging Grannies, community supporter Joe Schultz, and budget-busting SCPDsters) can be found at
"Keeping Santa Cruz Weird: Is Drumming a Crime?"

More background on issues and information about Mayor Coonerty's 15 Minute Parking Lot Panic law can be found at
"Trash Orchestra to Defend Drummers from SCPD"
"Blueshirts Erase Drum Circle: New Ban on Public Assembly Near Farmer's Market"

Bring cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, and friends.

It is possible but unlikely that police will attempt to cite people for simply being in the parking lot under the Parking Lot Panic Law.

The text of the law can be found at:

In this case, police must prove you DON'T have a vehicle there and are not walking directly through. Or they have to prove you've been there for more than 15 minutes. And that they have warned you on a prior occasion.

You don't have to prove you DO have a vehicle there. You DON'T have to answer any of their questions about this issue. In fact, the wisest thing is to continue to repeat "am I free to go?" and then simply walk over and talk with a friend.

If they indicate you are not free to go, ask those around you to witness the harassment, but ask questions but don't answer them.

Technically, if you leave the parking lot every fourteen minutes, police will likely have no probable cause to talk with you, since how do they know whose car is whose?

If police attempt to involve you in dialogue about "better places for drumming", "the marijuana problem", or any other issue, I suggest you advise them to set up a meeting at another time when people can meet on a level playing field and discuss these issues. If police call their activity "educational", suggest they do so at a time when their behavior can't be mistaken for intimidation.

Given the number of supporters who regularly show up, ticketing of this kind is unlikely.

I'm not a lawyer; these suggestions are just my personal opinions. It's most important to use your own judgment.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Sep 15, 2008 2:18PM
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