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Indybay Feature

Drum Circle is Back with a Bang in Santa Cruz's Parking Lot #4

by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
Mesh fencing that circled the magnolia trees in Santa Cruz's Parking Lot #4 at noon on September 24th had been removed by 3:30pm and a painted cardboard banner hung proudly declaring, "Home of the Farmer's Market Drum Circle 10 Years Here!!" The drum circle seemed as large as ever with more people gathered in the parking lot. Wes returned, along with others in Santa Cruz Trash Orchestra, and Food Not Bombs provided another delicious vegan meal. At one point there were at least two police officers monitoring the drum circle, but unlike last week, they maintained a low profile while people enjoyed the special community gathering.
For more information, see
by ~Bradley
§Mom and Baby Like to Drum
by ~Bradley
§Coonerty = Police State
by ~Bradley
Vote No on City Council!
by ~Bradley
§Drum Circle
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
A lot of people signed petitions in support of the drum circle
§Feeding Not Fencing
by ~Bradley
§Clock Tower
by ~Bradley
Some drummers that had planed to play at the clock tower quickly learned about the recovery of space under the trees and moved their drums to the parking lot next to farmer's market.
§Peach-Colored Jug Smugglers
by ~Bradley
People gathered on the sidewalk to enjoy and support good music.
§Farmer's Market
by ~Bradley
The market was very busy as people talked and purchased food while drums beat in the background.
by ~Bradley
§October 1st: Take the Power Back!
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
§Wes's Leg
by ~Bradley
Wes had his leg struck by a police baton last week while he was being arrested. You can see photos of Wes being arrested at:
§Food Not Bombs
by ~Bradley
§Parking Lot #4
by ~Bradley
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by danny boy
let all be well and fine,

glad to hear that food not bombs and the drum circle are reclaiming our space, also hoping that the greater santa cruz community, and the farmer's market participants realize and respect the rights and needs of this very special day, with all of its reverie. people would do well to remember the martin nemoller quote, "first they came for the communists, but i was not a communist.....then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.".

el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido (the people united will not be defeated)
by rainbow Bear
VOTE!!!!! VOTE!!!!! VOTE all the city council out,, Mostly,,,, Vote Coonerty OUT!!!!!!! He needs to go, to the end of the line...... Bring back santa cruz the way it was always intended to be.....
by Eric D
Glad to see the drum circle is back! Why was this EVER an issue? A bunch of people playing drums in a parking lot, so what? Here's to another 10 years of hassle free self expression.
by Sean
Thanks for your pictures and reporting Bradley. It was a great day.
by Wild One
I LOVED that all these people showed up. It was great to see all the happy faces, watch the dancing, hacky-sacking, hula-hooping, poi dancing, GREAT soup eating. It was WONDERFUL today and I was so thankful to live in a town that knows how to be a community. Thank you ALL for making my day!
by drum-drum-drum
This is amazing! I'm so glad that everyone showed up to make this happen. We don't need cops or city council to run our lives for us. Wednesdays are a beautiful illustration of how we can take care of our fucking selves.

Thanks to the drummers and trash orchestra for the noise, FNB for the food; bradley for the pictures, and thanks to all you beautiful people out there just doing your thang.
by Great work
Perfect!! Great Job SC!
by Peaceful
The cops are the problem. They should STAY away!
by ElderHermit
Vote Coonerty out of office. We don't need totalitarians and fascists running city government. Maybe he can get a job at the local bookstore again.
by (a)
vote no on city council.
vote no on government.
by V for Victory
I am so glad to see all the MANY people who came and showed SC we can have a good time and police ourselves just fine. Problems arise when cops get too heavy handed. People do not like to give up their rights so easily and will not let the 15 min law or police power be used against them in this way.

It was a great victory! But Its not over yet. The cops will likely come back when things die down, maybe in two weeks, maybe next summer, but they will, like 9 months ago. They are taking notes and checking them twice, so know your rights. Be kind but never surrender.

That "little ding" can be very painful and looks like it was from those billy sticks that are slimed down at the end to do just what they did. They make a very painful wound while leaving only a small injury spot. Robert reported what Wes reported. That when he got in the car he noticed his sock was full of blood. The intake nurse would not take Wes into custody without going to the hospital. I never heard or read Robert say anything came out of his leg but blood and he was quoting him. Your looking at a week old wound. Love Robert or hate him, I don't care. But I do notice he is very good at not making things up. He gets interviews and never have I witnessed him say he knew something he could not prove without saying that very thing.

He always states when he has no proof. He may insert his opinion, but even then he always says so. Listen to his show and you will hear for yourself.

Robert does one thing VERY effectively. He keeps issues from dying. He is our constant reminder of what our City Council does and what is happening on the streets, to the poor and people deemed "undesirables" because they have rights too. You may not like it. But I think it serves a purpose that is important. I admire anyone who stands up for what they believe and never gives up even in the face of harsh criticism, arrests etc. Everyone is right some of the time and no one is right all of the time. He took the time to interview each market vendor proving what our Mayor Connerty said to be a complete lie by proving that the board of the farmers market was not responsible for the complaints. He was in essence doing the media and city should have been doing. But again, this is about ALL the people who helped, in whatever way they could, some paying higher prices than others.

He never made this issue about him, it was always clearly about the community and many people and organizations that came and helped. Lets get back to that. Why did the City not do this? Why did the City not meet with those who asked, like some of the drummers themselves? Instead they used cops in riot gear ( the educational Campaign) which in turn brought the community out in support.

Remember the actions of our City & police come election day. Its time for a new Mayor and new attitude in City Council.

by treesitter
"I never heard or read Robert say anything came out of his leg but blood and he was quoting him."

-Robert described it as looking like the "insides were falling out of his leg". That seems a little over-dramatic, though it was clearly a painful wound.
by V
I did not read that where is it? So many threads on this issue. Robert never saw the wound till yesterday So I would like to see the context in which he stated that. As I said, everyone makes mistakes, but Robert is normally very careful about such things. I am not sure were in disagreement, I would simply like to see the context.
by Becky Johnson (becky_johnson222 [at]
VOTING BY (A) WRITES: "vote no on city council. vote no on government."

BECKY: But DO vote!! David Silva once said that if you are disatisfied with all the candidates, do vote, but turn in a blank ballot. It reduces percentages across the board and sends a clearer message than just staying at home and not voting does.
by Robert Norse
Thanks to V for her/his kind comments. The comment about "insides coming out" may have been made on the radio--it was my (possibly inaccurate) recollection of a phone conversation with someone who saw the wound shortly after it was inflicted. Of course, I make mistakes and hopefully people will call me on them. I invite talk about the Wednesday protest later today 6-8 PM at 101.1 FM 427-3772.

It's always important to turn the conversation back to the relevant issues and away from individual activists--however you may feel about them. Each contributes something--often unexpected--to the community's store of knowledge and power.

Power is important. It precedes negotiation. It was the willingness of folks to stand up and take back the Public Space, ignoring Coonerty's outrageous Parking Lot Panic law, that allowed the rich joy you can see in Bradley's photos.

On September 17th it was Wes and Jack who were apparently targeted by police. Jack is a key food-server with Food Not Bombs. Wes has been a lead drummer in inspiring people to return to the public parking lot that we pay taxes for and has been public space for decades.

It appeared to me that many people were involved in casting aside the green mesh fence set up to destroy not merely the Drum Circle, but Public Assembly there generally on Wednesdays. Scores of people violated Coonerty's Parking Lot Panic Law that bans "loitering" in any of the public parking lots and garages. But Harms, Albert, and Ross--the three cops who have spent many hours and many Wednesdays "patrolling" the lot--went after Jack and responded to Wes's protest drumming.

I asked Sgt. Harms who'd been cited or been noted for violating Coonerty's "no public assembly" law. He insisted "no one". I confronted with the evidence that the City Attorney had tried to use public assembly in the parking lot as a criminal violation to raise Wes's bail from $15,000 to $50,000. Harms retorted, "that was the city attorney, not me." Of course, it was Harms who compiled the information for the city attorney. And it was only Wes. Not anyone else. That the info was used against--with apparently lots more info on others waiting to brought out at a fitting future time.

This seems similar to me to political files on activists--acquiring information on minor violations usually ignored and then suddenly use them selectively against activists who are successfully protesting police oppression.

Should beating on a drum to protest an arrest be a crime? What if that arrest is part of a police/merchant pattern of unconstitutional harassment against the right to public assembly? Should Wes be tried as "resisting arrest"--as the police originally charged Wes with? I hope the community comes down with a resounding "no" on this issue. Likewise Jack, the FNB worker kidnapped by the cops (and that's really what it was), is charged with "resisting arrest".

For those who don't know "resisting" even an unlawful arrest is itself a crime (though ironically, not one there is any effective penalty for). But what can a community do when police methodically violate people's rights under color of law? Poor people who have no access to the courts? Local courts that are likely to side with police anyway? They must mobilize and restore democracy as we did yesterday and the for last few Wednesdays.

We did what Berkeley activists did when the University of California tried to gentrify People's Park with a volleyball court and other non-user developed "improvements" to drive away the homeless and poor: resist.

The Berkeley community tore out down the fences in 1968, tore out the parking lot in 1979, and tore out the volleyball court in 1994--returning People's Park to general use. Berkeley police under the "liberal" mayor Loni Hancock arrested hundreds of people in 1991-3, but people kept on coming. [ ]

As we did in Santa Cruz in 1994 when Councilmembers Rotkin, Mathews, and the elderly Coonerty (now a powerful County Supervisor) passed the absurd Sitting Ban and police arrested 3 dozen people under their broad Sitting Ban downtown. Those arrested were simply exercising the right to sit down on the side of the sidewalk during another Food Not Bombs meal back in May 1994. The courts threw out all the charges; City Council changed the law (though we now have a new oppressive Sitting Ban).

In those days the local ACLU actually took a few local civil liberties cases and weren't giving out awards to clowns like "Clampdown" Coonerty, as they did this year.

Now our principle protection against selective enforcement and police harassment is large crowds and strong verbal protest--and the prospect of that as a response.

Glad to see everybody yesterday. Come on back next week!
by High on Life
What if scores of people went to the parking lot and demanded a 15-minute ticket? Can you do a "citizen's arrest" for this heinous crime? OMG we could all arrest each other! giggle giggle I suppose you would need someone to file a complaint first?

We could flood the court system and get the law overturned again.

Seriously, is that a possibility?
by Indybay reader
The comment about the insides of Rico's leg coming out was a very gross comment to me. It made me upset to think the cops could be so ruff.
It is in the article called Drummers Arrested At Wednesday Farmers Market By Grrant ,Wednesday Sept.17,2008. It's called Police Press Release on the Arrests and Brief Comments By Robert, Monday, Sept.22,2008,7:21am.
If this isn't true maybe he wasn't awake yet. It was early. If blood is coming out it IS his insides though.
by Weakens the message
Robert is like the boy who cried wolf. He tries to magnify every issue to further his viewpoints. In doing so, he takes reality to the point of parody, and his words lose credibility. Don't let him control your causes.

When I see the photo of the guys leg with what looks to be about 2 stitches or a butterfly bandage on it...and compare it to roberts assertion:

"NORSE NOTE: This report does not mention Wes's report that the jail refused to take him because the insides of his leg, split open by a billyclub, were falling out.".


.........I have to say I find it uncredible. Similar to Robert saying Wes was blindsided and jumped by 3 cops, when in fact TimR's picture showed Wes inserting himself physically between a single officer and the guy the cop was arresting. Wes may have been jumped after that, but it loses credibility when you try to portray it as Wes being suddenly attacked for no reason.

Pretty basic cause and effect; you interfere with a cop making an arrest when there are 30 of them there and they're already pumped up by having had one of their own're gonna get taken down.
by John Thielking (pagesincolor [at]
Can anyone verify the story mentioned to me by Becky Johnson that the person who took down the green mesh around where the drum circle later assembled on Sept 24 was arrested? No small sacrifice if it is true, so I thought it should be mentioned.
by V
Yes, from what i understand Crow was arrested for removing one wire tie from the fence, info gathered from a previous week perhaps. Although I think he says he found it on the ground, regardless, it is a big sacrifice when anyone gets arrested, Jack,Wes, Crow, all took hits for the betterment of others in one form or another and for standing up to something they believe in.
The right to feed people, the right to public assembly, the right to use our public space without unconstitutional laws used against a select group of people.

For the person who mentioned the idea of getting lots of people and getting tickets doing a citizens arrest, technically yes as far as I know it can be done and Robert tried it with SGT. Harms and one willing participant which can be found on one of his shows in the last three weeks. I am sure Robert can point to the correct one because the exchange between Robert and Sgt. Harms is very enlightening as to how the Cops react to this tactic. Its a great idea and one that could work.

by A witness
From what Crow said on Robert's show (9/25), he was arrested/cited for petty theft. I was there at the drum circle and from what I saw the fence had been taken down long before Crow was involved, although I didn't actually see the fence being taken down. Afterwards, Crow was making a big scene about taking the fence and some of the metal poles. He put some of the poles in his van then took them out. This was all in front of the 'officials' (DA, and a couple others) who were parked right there. This is what I saw and this is what Crow said that he told to the police. (Recommendation: Don't say ANYTHING to the police, other than asking "Am I free to leave?")
by Robert Norse
Regarding the magnitude of Wes's injuries at that time, I simply reported what I heard (since I didn't directly witness his injuries). In a conversation with Sgt. Harms at City Council Tuesday, he confirmed that Wes was refused entrance to the jail and taken to the hospital. Would the police have done this if they didn't have to?

Give him a call at his message line at 420-5777 X4939 and ask him.

More minutiae: Harms also insisted that Wes's hospital treatment WAS mentioned in the police press release. In the copy of it that I saw--it wasn't. When I pressed him on it, Harms seemed to suggest he had mentioned it in his (confidential) report, but perhaps it WASN'T mentioned in the press report.

Harms also showed me a small abrasion on his hand, noting he'd been injured there during the fracas, but acknowledged that he hadn't gone to the hopsital for treatment.

I'll hopefully be playing Harms interview during my Sunday show. My apologies to the Free Radio going down last night in the midst of my show. If you want to hear the show, you can still hear it archived at . It includes an in-studio interview with Crow, who was arrested and charged with "petty theft". He says he wanted to remove the stakes and green mesh from where they were blocking the roadway, and take them to be recycled, as I understand it.

I can appreciate critics trying to get at the full truth and exposing contradictions and discrepancies. But if this is done to broadly discredit those who report on the matter, one has to wonder what the broader agenda is.

Is the point to use small disagreements to ignore the underlying issue of costly and calculated police action to disperse a constitutional public assembly ? And to throw up small issues to muddy the waters? The broader picture, unmuddied--whatever the details or technical legality of any arrest--make the police and politicians look like bullies and fools?

A less learned again: Direct Action works. The community restored the public space. It did so in spite of provocation by police. The bad publicity the police got probably got them orders to stay off the lot last Wednesday. We can do it again next week, and hopefully the police will return to their less politically costly private security work for the merchants on Pacific, driving away musicians, homeless, and youth, when requested to do so by the KnickKnack shops.


Thanks to Jack and Wes for having the courage to endure abusive, costly, and repressive police action. and to come back on the 24th! Based on the attempt to raise Wes's bail from $15,000 to $50,000 (if that account is correct), it sounds like the city attorney targeted Wes using info gathered by Sgt. Harms in his "educational campaign" (i.e. infraction violations of the Coonerty Parking Lot Panic law, for instance).

Beating on a big drum to protest the false arrest of a main Food Not Bombs server is first amendment activity not criminal behavior. Conspiring to deny the public the right to peacefully assemble in a public place is a much graver concern and profoundly criminal. And that has been the whole point of the police action for the last month. The D.A. will never charge the police and the staff who secretly cooked up this crackdown, of course. It is this larger crime that is most relevant to the community--clearly. Though not to those who want to discredit advocates and activists around this action.

And again a thank you to all those who "violated" Coonerty's absurd Parking Lot Panic "law" to stop another seizure of public space. Particularly important because the community was defending the rights of poor and homeless people--for whom this space and gathering is much more important than for those who have money and homes.


How about a Know Your Rights forum before the Drum Circle formally gathers, to advise people on their options if and when armed uniformed goons show up to crush public assemblies?

Or possibly a Speak Out so community members can talk about other places where police are cracking down downtown?

Or an invitation to City Council candidates to come down and discuss the issue (they've actually been invited every week and generally ignored the invitations.

Or a march to the police station to get Public Records documenting the "crime wave" in the Parking Lots that has supposedly justified this heightened "terrorist alert", er, "hippie removal"...hmm "public assembly dispersal"?

by A witness
and I forgot to mention...

Crow was not arrested/cited at the scene. He got in his van and left. And then the 'officials in the car' left.... According to Crow (on Robert's show) he was pulled over a short time later.
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
Here is some video from the 24th as well as some short takes of other public space being used in creative ways.
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
Video Part 2 with interviews -
The new Children's Drum Circle at the Live Oak Farmers market is great, I support it. But since I live 2 blocks away I wanted to point out that it too is VERY loud, very close to a senior center and many more houses than downtown. But again, its once a week and fine by me.

One thing left out of the video due to editing, time, etc. (I did the editing) is a drummer or a drum circle supporter directing traffic when people would come in looking for a spot. This is the kind of thing people can and should do while using the public space. Be kind and don't let the police take away your rights. Treat cars coming in with respect. Any edits during interviews were done (once) simply to protect the innocent and not give the note takers any more fuel for their little war. What struck me was the vast amount of people who came out in support. All editing choices were my sole decision.

I left in the full interview of the farmer who rightly expressed his dissent against the circle, as we all have a right to complain, dissent and express our views. He deserves to be heard too in my humble opinion.

Last week was a great success.
by Robert Norse
Interesting article on the City on a Hill Press "Primer" gives an extensive discussion of the successful but subverted Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines from old bubbleguy and street organizer Tom Noddy. Go to:

The Metro's coverage of the Drum Circle by Curtis Cartier is supposedly an "update" an earlier article at

Metro article at: article at:

For the latest bigoted Sentinel editorial with a few countercomments go to:

The longest threads on the Drum Circle are Sentinel garbage (hold your nose) at

The most important thing to remember when wading through most of this garbage of police press releases and bigoted snears and smears is that the people won back the space and will continue to do so if they keep showing up.

None of the articles get into the basic issue of the real struggle: restoring public space and the right to public assembly in Santa Cruz. But it's happening nonetheless.

Good work, everyone.
by V
If the only thing you can call Robert on is the description of the sock thing, which he explained, then I have to disagree. Its not about Robert or Wes or any one person.

The issues is the right to public assembly, the right to protest, to use public space. You make it about Robert by the very disagreements you make. Its not about Robert but i think he serves a purpose.

The community took back the space, the community decided they did not like the heavy handed Cops. I found what Wes did to be empowering. He never struck ANY officer. Did he get in the way?Perhaps in a passive resistive manor. But is that wrong? NO, not when your standing up for something that is more important than obeying the whim of every cops agenda.

One picture showing Wes being in the fray proves nothing, thus the lack of charges. No picture shows Wes striking anyone.
by As much as the cops
Wes posted a challenge to the cops here on Indy on Wed. before the farmers market.

Then Wes inserted himself between the cop and Russ, thus getting himself arrrested.

Cause and effect.

I have no complaint with Wes expressing his viewpoint in a civilly disobedient manner if he so chooses.

I do take complaint though, when Robert and Indy try to spin it into an unexpected, unprovoked or unearned interaction.

Wes wanted to dance, and he found is partner in the SCPD. Fine.

But now trying to play it like he's a merry innocent minding his own business who was suddenly jumped by 3 cops for no reason? Laughable.
by Robert Norse
The challenge was police officers dispersing a traditional public assembly back in December until the community (inspired by people like Wes) returned to the area and refused to be intimidated.

The challenge was police returning in early September to try the same unconstitutional tactic, this time with green mesh fences, which they apparently requested. The public came back, tore down the fences (three Wednesdays running) and resumed peaceful assembly.

The challenge was police heavily and steadily "patrolling" an area where no crime was happening with the intention of intimidating people. The public responded with anger and resentment but no violence on September 10th.

The challenge was police provocatively and repressively picking out leaders (on whom they'd previously gathered information) to arrest on September 17th. The response was protest drumming and mass crowd anger.

The challenge was police calling two adjacent departments and bringing down every cop they could find to block off Cathcart St., pull out the riot gun, and brutalize several people with nightsticks to back up the provocation arrests. The response was mass anger, refusal to leave the parking lot, and resumption of the drum circle.

The challenge was to deal with media complicity in rubberstamping police and political malfeasance here. The response is indymedia journalism.

No matter how you spin it, the reality is police provoked a near-riot by moving on a traditional public assembly where no crime problem existed, exists, or is likely to exist.
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