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Drum Circle Continues at Santa Cruz Farmer's Market; Police Told to Back Off
by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
On October 1st, green mesh fencing was put up again in Santa Cruz's Parking Lot #4 next to the downtown Farmer's Market. The market began at 2:30pm and by 3:00pm, many people were disappointed by the fencing around the trees and the absence of the sounds of drumming in the air. But the drumming got started when a little kid, a regular at the drum circle, began playing his drum in the dirt near the sidewalk on Cedar Street.
A man was soon screaming after he tripped, landed on the mesh fencing, and then rolled his way out. Meanwhile, other people pulled up stakes, and the man escaped the green mesh fencing with a minor injury to his leg. The Santa Cruz Police Department arrived at Parking Lot #4, followed by the Fire Department, to assist the man with his injury. The (uniformed) police did not approach the drum circle or harass people in the parking lot.

While the man was being treated, another individual got the attention of Santa Cruz Police Department Officer Martin Brandt, pointed at somebody, and then told Brandt that the person he pointed at was involved in pulling up fencing stakes around the magnolia trees. Brandt quickly and openly responded, "We have been told to pretty much leave this place alone."

A few minutes later, I walked up to Officer Brandt and said to him, "I understand that the police have been told to stay away from the drum circle."

Officer Brandt then asked me, "Where did you hear that?"

I replied, "I heard you say that to the man in the blue hat after he told you about someone pulling up stakes."

With anger, Officer Brandt said, "Then you are reporting gossip."

I said, "Well fine, then I am reporting gossip. Do you want to comment?"

Officer Brandt replied, "I will deny it."

I told him he was a liar and he told me to back up.

There you have it. Santa Cruz Police officers were told to back off and pretty much leave the drum circle and Parking Lot #4 alone during Farmer's Market.

The drum circle continued into the dark after the market ended.

Only time will tell what will happen in Parking Lot #4 on Wednesday, October 8th and beyond. Will the green mesh fencing return? If so, will it come down again, one way or another? Will people be able to freely congregate, make music, and share food without surveillance and harassment by the police?


For background information and coverage from previous weeks, please check out:

September 10th: Raging Grannies and Trash Orchestra Defend Drummers from SCPD

September 17th: Two Arrested in Parking Lot #4 Alongside Santa Cruz Farmer's Market

September 24th: Community Members Return to Parking Lot #4 Alongside Farmer's Market
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Free Skool
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Santa Cruz Police Officer Martin Brandt, the Liar
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Santa Cruz Fire Department Arrives
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Not Only A Witness, But an Asshole Too
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Police Report
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
The guy with the blue Santa Cruz City Fire Fighters hat gave the police a report about people who he said pulled up fence stakes, even though Officer Brandt had told him that the police, "have been told to pretty much leave this place [Parking Lot #4] alone."

After the man walked away from the police, I asked him if I could ask him a few questions.

He said to me, "Sure you can, and I can kick your ass because I do not have to be restrained like these guys do," and pointed towards the police.

I gave him a chance to hit me, but he walked away.
§Green Mesh Fencing
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Joe Schultz Gives Away Delicious Vegan Soup!
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
*I'm pretty sure Joe's soup is vegan, however unlike Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, Joe also shares carnivorous meals on occasion.
§Food Not Bombs
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Making Music and Keeping the Tradition Alive
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
While I sat down to enjoy a free cup of Joe's soup, I spoke (in Spanish) with two people (not pictured) that work (doing some kind of construction or painting) a couple blocks from Parking Lot #4. While spending their break in the parking lot, they ate food from the farmer's market and told me that they enjoy the sound of the drumming while they are working.
§Sergeant Mike Harms and Sergeant Loran Baker
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
As Santa Cruz Police Department Sergeant Loran Baker and Sergeant Mike Harms came to a stop at the corner of Lincoln and Cedar in their unmarked police SUV, I asked them about the police being told to back off from Parking Lot #4. They refused to comment and Sergeant Baker drove the SUV away.

On May 13th, 2008, I noticed Sergeant Loran "Butchie" Baker taking photos of a group bicycle ride on Mission Street from inside an unmarked police car:
§Trumpeter in the Drum Circle
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM
§Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Drum Circle
by ~Bradley Wednesday Oct 1st, 2008 10:51 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by fyp
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 7:35 AM
It is sort of funny, the manner in which the fence fell down this week. It seems like it might be a better strategy to put up a fence with the intention of keeping people inside the dirt strip so that people don't get run over by jeeps.
by V
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 7:39 AM
Good work Bradley! Good work to all who defended our right to use public space, publicly without intimidation. Great work reporting on what the police said, we wont be reading that in the SC Senile. Thanks!
by Keep it Real
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 8:59 AM
I was there too. Here's my report:

At app. 4pm, One barely coherent guy purposely "fell" into the fencing in an effort to create drama and tension. With fabulous coincidental....luck.....Robert and Bradley were both there to record the ......accident.

As police and fire arrived to evaluate and assist, Robert and Bradley swooped in and started firing pictures as if there was actual news occurring. Within 5 minutes, the fire and police left, assisting the self-injured man by leaving him with an ice pack.

The police did not approach the drum circle because there was no drum circle to approach. There was no drumming core group there.

Keep it real.

by Robert Norse
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 1:29 PM
Bradley's photos and commentary cover it pretty well. The Drum Circle assembly isn't particularly newsworthy, except when Coonerty's Constables attempt to disrupt the public assembly there. No news is good news.

Apparently, the police were told to resume their duties elsewhere--a sensible directive, and one wonders why it wasn't followed in late August and early September--avoiding a lot of public tension, anger, and hubbub. Could have something to do with Coonerty's reelection campaign, or some ambitious gentrification gents, or a new $43 million parking garage...or too many cops with too much time on their hands.

The ever-anonymous but supposedly-present "Keep it Real" claims there was no Drum Circle. Not until the fence came down. Then the drum circle reformed after a few minutes as shown by Bradley's photographs as drummers took heart and returned with their instruments to add color and rhythm to the Wednesday Farmer's Market. As they have for the last ten years.

Hoping some of my video will turn out. Check this evening for audio on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 6 PM, later to be archived at . Tune at to 101.1 FM or . Candidate Simba Kenyatta is due on at 7 PM and may have some comments on the subject as well.
by Power Through The People
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 1:38 PM
"The police did not approach the drum circle because there was no drum circle to approach. There was no drumming core group there."

No, the police did not approach the drum circle as it was forming, after the fencing came down, because the police were told to pretty much avoid the drum circle.

Officer Martin Brandt and the other uniformed police left Parking Lot #4 just before 4pm. A core of drummers were set up under the trees and drumming shortly after 4pm. Before 5pm, as the drum circle was going strong, Sergeant Mike Harms was photographed as the passenger in an unmarked police SUV driven by Sergeant Loran Baker at the corner of Lincoln and Cedar. They did not approach the drum circle.

Sergeant Harms was wearing his SCPD uniform at the drum circle on September 10. Sergeant Harms was also wearing his uniform on September 17 and he had a big smile on his face as he walked away with Wes's big blue plastic drum. Sergeant Baker was also present on September 17, but he did not have his SCPD uniform on. Then on September 24, there was not a presence by uniformed police, but Officer Perry (sp?) and another cop made a brief appearance.

Like Officer Martin Brandt confirmed, police did not approach the drum circle on October 1 because they "have been told to pretty much leave this place alone."
by Keep it real
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 1:41 PM
I said that the police did not approach the drum circle in the context of "as they were attending to the injured man".

As Bradley posted that "The Santa Cruz Police Department arrived at Parking Lot #4, followed by the Fire Department, to assist the man with his injury. The (uniformed) police did not approach the drum circle or harass people in the parking lot.", .....I clarified that in my observation, there was no drum circle to approach at that time.

I don't know nor seek to claim that there wasn't a drum circle after 4 pm. I was gone by then. I do know that there was no drum circle going when police and fire depts. were there around 4pm.

Keep it real
by Or_what
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 8:43 PM
why weren't Sergeant Loran Baker and Sergeant Mike Harms wearing their seat belts in that photo. Isn't that a violation of the law. SCPD seem to be pretty eager to write tickets to certain people but the law deoesn't apply to them, or what?
by practical activist
Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008 11:35 PM
Now this is definitely journalism. Not only is a police officer called a "liar," but a random stranger is called an "asshole." If you want to get people on the side of those in the drum circle, you shouldn't make enemies, but allies.
by If it Walks Like a Duck
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 7:32 AM
Honest journalism, you won't find that in the corporate media. The cop is a liar and the witness threatened to kick Bradley's ass for asking if he could ask a question. One Liar and an Asshole.
by gch
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 8:07 AM
no - this is great just as photojournalism. As you go through the photos, one can read all sorts of motivations or emotions from the faces, and follow various nuances that would never be entered into a blurb in 'cops and courts' column in the Sentinel.
by Robert Norse
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 11:20 AM
Bruce Bratton, once a columnist for the Metro Santa Cruz, now a blogger on local politics, had the following comment about the Drum Circle:

"SIMBA KENYATTA AND THOSE DRUMMERS. One of the lighter moments in the City Council candidate's forums was when the candidates were asked about the parking structure on Cedar...they all were opposed. Simba took the occasion to say that he has been a drummer since he was 14 years old and that drum circle needs isn't more laws but lessons on how to drum!!!!

He got great laughs and applause...he's right of course. I think that "din of thieves" needs to change the day of the week that they bang or their location. Our Farmer's Market is a precious institution and those miserable drummers and friends hurt a fragile business.

The drummers represent exactly why more locals don't shop downtown. Most of them are probably deaf but if they could listen and really do care about free speech, move the drumming to some different day or location ...please. Just in passing, which city official ordered the police action and the taping of the tree at the Drummers circle last week?"


I sent Bruce the following letter today:

Re: your comments enlisting Kenyatta in your attack on the Wednesday Drum Circle in your latest on-line column.


Kenyatta was on my show last night and clarified he had did not support the current attack on the Drum Circle, which you seem to be backing [archived at , Kenyatta interview is the last hour of the audio vile].

My attempt to get Public Records actually documenting the number of complaints, citations, accidents, injuries, and arrests in Parking Lot #4 has come up just about empty. The documentation doesn't seem to be there [“No Public Records; More Public Lies” at].

How many Farmer's Market vendors have you actually talked to who feel the drummers hurt their business? I've spoken with nearly a dozen and played some of those interviews on the radio. None of them want the police involved; most think the drumming is either positive or tolerable. Only a few complained of business probs.

Businesses traditionally blame the presence of youth, protesters, homeless people, etc. for their problems. Particularly in times of economic crisis. As an oldtimer, you know that the constant refrain of the Downtown Association if for harsher anti-homeless laws (er..”quality of life” ordinances). I'd thought you'd been around long enough to see through this singsong scapegoating.

While I respect and somewhat share your support for local businesses (I've never spent a dime at Borders here myself), I believe businesses that have descriminated against the poor and homeless (Lulu Carpenter's), conspired to remove public space (Pacific Trading Company, Sushi Now!, Ali Baba's Cafe), or are the economic engine of a reactionary political agenda locally (Bookshop Santa Cruz) need to be exposed and challenged. That's what HUFF does.

You sound like Rotkin or Kennedy when you denounce protesters and seem to support this kind of business paranoia—probably responsible for this idiotic attack on the Drum Circle with police sentries and green mesh fences.

I admit to not following your often-interesting column with the regularity I should, but did you ever write anything in opposition to Coonerty's absurd 15-minute “no loitering” law in the public parking lots and garages, removing 10 square blocks of public space?

You've probably followed my attempt to get info at about business problems over the notion of boycott protests around repressive laws and selective police enforcement practices on

Coonerty, the Sentinel, and the SCPD seem to be making exaggerated claims. What's their agenda? To denude the area for the 5-story parking garage, provide an election eve “clear away the rabble” boost to “law 'n order” candidates, carry out the public space-constricting gentifrification agenda of the city staff, or simply bit the bumbusting bigotry drum ?

Don't be tone deaf to the Rhythms of Reaction and choose a different beat. Or at the very least share with us some persuasive evidence for the need for this latest round of police repression.

Robert Norse (423-4833)

P.S. I'm posting this letter on indybay as well as your column. You're invited to come on Free Radio Santa Cruz to discuss this and other issues.

by Robert Norse
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 12:40 PM
The Thursday Sentinel, with its usual regard for truth and accuracy, printed the following account in its page 2 Coastlines section at


Drum circle quiet for second week

The weekly drum circle in the parking lot next to the downtown farmers market was quiet
for the second week in a row, following some unruly protests the prior two weeks.

A handful of people beat drums under the trees in the lot's center island while about 10 others looked on.

Protests at the drum circle escalated two weeks ago and two people were arrested, one for cutting temporary fencing and another for helping the first escape police, among other charges. A confrontation ensued when angry protesters surrounded police and backed them against a wall.

Police have launched an effort to curb illegal activity at the drum circle, following complaints of open alcohol containers, drug use and sales, and public urination, among other offenses, officers said."

Angela Flynn and I posted comments--for once the public assembly supporters outweigh the detractors--at the following site. Those who want to join in what usually turns into a mudbath with sandbox full of bigots can go to

Angela's comment:
"Wow, what drum circle was this reporter at. The last two drum circles have been bigger than ever. Perhaps the reporter showed up at 2:30 and did not stick around to see the gathering. Most people do not arrive until about 4pm."

my comment:

"The Sentinel's cub reporter Genevieve Bookwalter apparently spent more time chatting with journalism students than reporting the key facts:

1. The City continued to waste public money, unconstitutionally attempt to disrupt public assembly, and provoke yet another confrontation by putting up green mesh fences around the three areas used to assemble under the trees.

2. The central fence was again torn down as it has been for the last three weeks. The fencing was then set aside so that people could use the public space for drumming, dancing, socializing, and eating as they have for the last 10 years.

3. Famed caterer Joe Schultz again showed up with hot tasty soup to feed the hungry and support the rights of the community.

4. The Drum Circle grew back to at least its usual size by about 4;30 PM, as Angela points out above.

5. Officer W. Brandt indicated, according to reporter Bradley, that the police (at last) had been directed to stay away from the area. This was made real clear, Bradley reported, when an angry citizen tried to get Officer Brandt to arrest someone he accused of taking down the green mesh fence. Brandt declined to do so and declined to take the report (though it may have been taken by other officers later).

Thanks again, Genevieve, for another well-researched inclusive unbiased story."
by Becky Johnson
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 1:03 PM
Just a minor correction. It's Officer WILLIE Brandt.
by the_whole_trooth
Friday Oct 3rd, 2008 1:49 PM
Attached is a picture of Brandt. I'm not sure whether or not his name plate will be seen clearly enough on the web, but it says "M. Brandt".

However, I have seen his name someplace else and it was listed as "Martin W. Brandt", so you are probably both right... His name is Martin but his middle name is probably William and he is probably known as Willie...
by Robert Norse
Monday Oct 6th, 2008 4:56 AM
The Sentinel video posted on its Monday October 6th home page shows Crow getting the green mesh fence debris and posts out of the way and actually features a relatively positive spin on the drummers and the public assembly there. Amazing.

See it ourself at as long as it lasts.

Next time and place of protected public assembly in the forbidden parking lots: 3:30 PM Wednesday October 8th.
by Honestly
Tuesday Oct 28th, 2008 11:14 AM
You see in other people what you know about yourself. Calling a retired fire captain with a difference of opinion an a-hole says everything about you & nothing about him.
by calieastia\felony kate
(felonykate [at] ) Friday Mar 6th, 2009 2:25 PM
Hay all i saw this picture with others and all i have to say is jp i miss ya leaf, Rex,Corbin,Branden,Nim, ash all of you and susen thank you will be there always in my hart hope to c you again please email me.