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No More Fences at the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Drum Circle
by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 12:51 PM
Wednesday, April 1st was the second week in a row that fences were not erected in parking lot #4 next to the Santa Cruz Community Farmer's Market. For the past six months, mesh fencing has been used to deter people from gathering and drumming below the magnolia trees. Brent, a longtime and well-known drummer, reports that an experimental agreement has been reached between himself and Santa Cruz Police Department Sergeant Mike Harms.

To ensure the success and longevity of the drum circle and farmer's market, Brent posted signs around parking lot #4 and the market with nine guidelines that ask people to help manage and maintain the scene.
For background information and previous coverage, please check out:

October 1st, 2009:
Drum Circle Continues at Santa Cruz Farmer's Market
Police Apparently Told to Back Off from Drum Circle
§Drum Circle Longevity
by ~Bradley Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 12:51 PM
by ~Bradley Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 12:51 PM
by ~Bradley Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 12:51 PM
§Drum Scene
by ~Bradley Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 12:51 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Robert Norse
(rnorse3 [at] Friday Apr 3rd, 2009 8:42 PM
Great photos. Nice signs. Thanks to Brent and Bradley.

A dialogue with Sgt. Harms from the 3-25 Drum Circle---the first time in six months when the green mesh fences were down--should be available by Monday (4-6) at under Friday April 3.

Lots of folks think well of Harms. I appreciate his willingness to engage in a sort of dialogue on tape. Though I find his claims about health and safety at the drum circle a hard story to swallow.

Brent has been trying to have a dialogue with both Harms and Chip, the Downtown Association (DTA)'s Executive Director, who has taken to holding closed secret meetings of the DTA's Social and Legislative Committee. I was told that those meetings were public on the first Wednesday of every month at 8:30 AM at DTA HQ at 903 Pacific Ave. Suite 202. Brent and another HUFFster tried to attend the meeting, but found no one there. Chip later informed Brent, Brent told me, that the meetings were held at another (undisclosed) location and were not open to the public.

Since this Committee is what cooks up anti-homeless laws like the current "three snoozes and you're jailed" law, the expanded Forbidden Zones, and the 1-hour-on-a-bench limits, it's interesting that these meetings are held behind closed doors. Understandable even.

Folks interested in supporting a noon protest starting at O'Neill's on Saturday April 25th should get in touch with HUFF or the Human Rights Organization. Call HUFFl at 423-4833 to volunteer or get more info.
by Brent Adams (posted by R. Norse)
Saturday Apr 4th, 2009 9:37 AM
I received the following copy of a letter Brent sent to Chip, the Downtown Association (DTA) Executive Director:

From: brent adams (compassionman [at]
Sent: Sat 4/04/09 2:06 AM
To: just chip (chip [at]; manager [at]; Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]; rico thunder (thespoon [at]


Nice talking with you the other day regarding the Farmer's Market Drum Circle.

After hearing from Neshe (sp?), you and Sgt. Harms about the alleged complaints from the 3rd row vendors,
I decided to go and do my own investigation. Only 2 out the 10 vendors had complaints and it was simply about noise
that happens only sometimes. I talked to them at 5pm which is peak noise level and they all said it was tolerable.

We didn't have to shout over it as I've heard they have to do. 6 of them say they support the drum circle and don't want it
to go anywhere. 4 of them said they love it and they dance to it throughout the day.

Weeks ago I had a conversation with Neshe and pledged to help find a solution to the "problem." I've been in 4 very long conversations with Sgt. Harms and we've been talking about the drummers beginning to self-police the scene and to see if the church across the street would host. The problem with moving it across the street is that it would affect more of the market with noise. In its current location it is blocked by a wall of large box trucks belonging to the vendors. As an act of good faith, sgt. Harms has ended the weekly fence installation order.

I took it upon myself to draw up a list of guidelines for the drummers to follow. I had a meeting with the larger group while they paused between drum jams and they all agreed and were very happy to comply. I also circulated the list to the vendor's on the 3rd row and discussed that we in the drum circle supported them and want to keep our scene clean of the problems listed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel a few months ago. I also posted a larger laminated version on the 3 tree areas.

Here is the actual wording of the posting:
Welcome to the home of the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Drum Circle.
To ensure the success and longevity of the market and the drum circle, please help us manage and maintain our scene:

- Allow easy passage of auto traffic
- Allow cars to park
- Be kind to all motorists and pedestrians
- No alcohol in the area
- No drug sales in the area
- Discrete pot smoking
- The market requests that we take 5 minute breaks between drum jams
- No fighting
- Be kind

Thank you very much and have fun.
Rap 107
If you have questions or would like to discuss this notice please email or call Brent compassionman [at] 831-421-0316

The word "rap 107" was included because it is a cultural reference from the Rainbow Tribe to highlight a community directive.
I included "discrete pot smoking" instead of no pot smoking because sgt. Harms said he doesn't have a problem with it and realizes that its part of the drum circle culture. He's more concerned with the other items listed. There has never been a problem with trash after the drummers leave but on the next version I'll include "Leave no trash behind and help pick up any discarded trash"

If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to email or call.
Thank you,
Brent Adams
by Robert Norse
Saturday Apr 4th, 2009 9:49 AM
Brent will be on Free Radio tomorrow morning (101.1 FM, sometime between 9 AM and 1 PM on my show. the show will be archived a day later at

Discussions with him regarding the Downtown Ordinances and the Wednesday Drum Circle can be downloaded at (about 1/4 of the way through the audio file) from last Sunday's show. Scroll ahead to 1/3 of the way into the audio file to avoid earlier music. We play through a Voices from the Village panel discussing the Downtown Ordinances and comment on it. The original show, created by Charlie Phillips, aired March 15th, and featured Sherry Conable, Ray Glock-Grueneich, Kim Dowling, and Ed Frey, hosted by Louis La Fortune.
by (A)non
Tuesday Apr 7th, 2009 11:24 PM
thats it? what a cowardly stipulation. wheres the solidarity?
what about demanding a dropping of charges against jack and wes?

if you even began to care about the drum circle wouldnt you think to atleast
PONDER the kind of precendents your setting by talking to that pig harms?
Or are you just caught up in being able to safely bang away on those bongo drums,
lighting up a fat one, and letting the apathy set in.
Atleast now you can mark this up as another victory, put it on your resume with
the rest of your defunct or soon to be non-profit orginizations.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 8th, 2009 6:01 AM
Charges should definitely be dropped against Jack and Wes. What's their current status? I understand there was a hearing on Monday or Tuesday. Perhaps on the advice of their attorney, neither Wes nor Jack have put out much publicity, announced court dates on this website, etc. Perhaps the scoff-er could do a little research and let us know what's happening?

Those interested in hearing more street interviews about harassment of Downtown musicians, mendicants, and merry-makers should check out Free Radio Thursday 11-noon and 1-3 PM where I hope to be playing some more stuff.

Equally important is the case of Anna Richardson and Miguel deLeon, two street musicians being pilloried for sleeping int he downtown area and then igoring their sleeping tickets. The ever-abusive city attorney is looking for a civil injunction against them that will make them subject to 5 days in jail for each instance of downtown sleeping. Judge Burdick has indicated he's likely to grant the injunction.

Read the Sentinel's coverage at .
You can also hear Richardson's volunteer attorney Jonathan Gettleman discuss the case at .

by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 8th, 2009 12:23 PM
Police are using the following municipal code to "move along" musicians downtown, claiming they are engaging in "excessive noise", based solely on the heckler's veto, that is, a complainant whose name and location they keep secret.

The relevant section of the ordinance under which they threaten to cite (and do cite) under applies from 8 AM to 10 PM (during deep night hours, stricter noise standards apply):


No person shall make, cause, suffer or permit to be made any noises or sounds (a) which are unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness or which are so harsh or so prolonged or unnatural or unusual in their use, time or place as to cause physical discomfort to any person, and (b) which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted. As used in this section, 'lawfully conducted activities” shall include, but not be limited to, any and all activities conducted by the city for public health, safety or welfare purposes.'"

The entire ordinance (including the stricter noise standard at night) can be found at MC 9.36 Noise in the City's Municipal Code at .

My point about enforcing 9.36.020: apparently there are two elements to the crime: noises or sounds (1) "which are unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness or which are so harsh or so prolonged or unnatural or unusual in their use, time or place as to cause physical discomfort to any person"; AND (2) "which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted" .

The word "and" seems to mean that BOTH conditions have to be met. However, playing music (even for donation) is "necessary in connection with an activity which is lawfully conducted" if it is done on the 10% of the Pacific Ave. sidewalk where it is permitted.

Hence even playing music that is "unreasonably disturbing" (which meets condition a) is not enough; you have to be making noises or sounds "which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted" (condition b). So according to the plain language of this law, it seems a conviction wouldn't be possible simply on the basis of noise alone.

Blame the City Attorney's office for writing a bad law.

But, let's be reasonable, if you're playing music that is at a reasonable volume, and some cop tells you you've got to stop because some unidentified person in some unidentified location thinks it's too loud:

(a) offer to play a bit more softly, and ask the cop how far away the complainant is, and whether they are a "person of ordinary sensibility" (i.e. an elderly person who's trying to sleep during the day and is supersensitive to noise does not meet this definition--though you might want to respond to this even though you're not legally required to do so). This constitutes your good faith effort to offer to meet legitimate (or even hypersensitive) complaints half-way.
(b) ask the cop if he feels it's too loud.
(c) ask others listening if they feel it's too loud.
(d) if the cop says something like "no, but I'm just conveying a complaint", reply "well tell the person involved that you're willing to quiet it down a little. If the person persists in insisting on making a citizen's citation/arrest through the cop, you will be subpoenaing the police officer to secure his testimony that the music isn't too loud."
(e) advise the cop to tell the complainant that you'll also be subpoenaing every past complaint that person has done to indicate whether he or she is litiguous or a constant complainer.
(f) advise the cop to tell the complainant that if they persist in citing you, you'll be filing a counter complaint/arrest to cite the complainant for making a false police report, since the police officer's testimony would make it likely that the complaint is frivolous and you don't appreciate the harassment.
(g) ask the police officer whether your activity is otherwise "lawfully conducted". If he agrees it is, rather than being too loud according to someone else's opinion, point out that it doesn't meet both prongs of the law's requirement to qualify as "excessive noise".

These are just suggestions and untried ones at that. I'm not a regular street musician or a lawyer. Police routinely act unreasonably, illegally, and with prejudice. They are, in fact, an arm of the merchants even though they're paid by all of us and are supposed to be enforcing laws evenly. It helps to have a tape recorder and witnesses if the cops choose to cite you anyway.

You also have the right to request to be taken before a magistrate immediately (if it's business hours on a weekday) in case you decided to continue playing at the same volume, if you believe this to be harassment and make these same arguments to a judge. The SCPD does recognize this right (or has, when I've brought it up). I understand it's part of the SCPD's General Orders (the internal rules that police are directed to follow on pain of discipline).

I think the point is to return to the old voluntary Street Performers Guidelines where anyone could ask a performer to move on after an hour, and the performer would consider that (but not be bound by it). People need to be contacting each other directly not using people in uniforms armed with badges, guns, and merchant association-created laws.

Also, please post on this website if you have been harassed, cited, or witnessed such downtown with all the details you remember. You can also leave a message at 423-4833.
We are in complete solidarity with Wes and Jack, there is no question, but I won't be bringing their arrests up when doing public relations
with the vendors, the market manager or Sgt. Harms. We're trying to find alternatives to the police shutting the drum circle down because of market and public perception to the activities of the drummers and those groups who surround them. The drum circle is not and should not be maintained as a resistance movement. It is a celebration. We live here and want to work with the community of businesses and police to ensure a peaceful and long-lasting relationship. In drawing up a list of voluntary guidelines for the drummers to follow and to encourage others to follow is a proactive step. We applaud the Sergeant's act of good faith by having the fence removed.
by Squeaky Jones
Monday Apr 27th, 2009 10:17 AM
I was reared on the surf culture of So-Cal, and feel the drumm circle, and farmers market is the charm of Santa Cruz, CA. It is what is good, and kind, sharing music, food, laughs, hugs, stories, and every thing else that makes us glad to be alive. I am troubled by City Hall, and SCPD, for repeated attacks on the joy that occurs at drum circle. I still have a broken Burly bike trailer, because SCPD drove into my trailer hit and run style at a 1/08 wednesday drum circle after ruffing up, and arresting Mary who was busy spreading joy while drumming. City Hall said fuck you sue us as to paying for my damaged trailer. So you can see, it is not the drummers who are bad for Santa Cruz, it is your Evil CITY HAll. Squeaky.
by squeaky jones
Monday Apr 27th, 2009 4:25 PM
Iam 1500 plus miles from Santa Cruz, CA. Advice from an attorney where I now reside told me the city of Santa Cruz, CA (City Hall) wants me to sue them. After being hit and run by SCPD damaging my almost new Burley Nomad bike trailer on 1/08, I waited the full 45 days for my claim to be heard by City Council. I could no longer take their abuse, so I left town. Anyways, I was told that I would win the case, but I would have to come back to Santa Cruz, CA. I was homeless in Santa Cruz, CA, lets face it City Hall hates homeless people in Santa Cruz, CA. I was also told that if I returned to sue City Hall the City Attorney would claim sick and postpone my court date. in other words fuck me over like they already have. It is not the good, and kind folks of Drumm circle, and Farmers market thats the problem, it is the Evil that oozes from City Hall Santa cruz, CA. Jack
by Brent
Wednesday Apr 29th, 2009 12:18 AM
By Laura Weiss
City On A Hill Press Reporter

The usually laid-back vibe at the downtown farmers market became even more relaxed recently, as the previously erected barricade separating the long-standing drum circle from produce shoppers was taken down.

The green mesh fencing, which was first put up in October of last year, was meant to block out the drummers who congregate each week in the parking lot at Cedar and Cathcart streets. It came in response to complaints by business owners, citizens and the merchants in the market.

Sgt. Michael Harms of the Santa Cruz Police Department reported that the complaints he received were mostly about illegal activity taking place within the circle.

“The concern was toward the drug sales of known and convicted crack and meth dealers who hid in the anonymity of the crowd and the road blockage for emergency vehicles,” Harms said.

The police department decided to back down from enforcing the use of fences due to the behavioral change in the drummers since the complaints were issued.

Drummer Brent Adams posted a code of conduct on various trees in the parking lot to avoid animosity and promote cooperation. The list asks drummers to allow free flow of traffic, to not sell drugs or drink alcohol, and to take breaks between drum sessions.

“I can’t do much about the volume or the quality of drumming, but I realized that I could create a mimetic self-policing program where everyone would help and teach others to help,” Adams said. “This way I don’t have to run around being a little deputy.”

Adams sought to remind drummers that they should follow a few peaceful rules in order to keep the police and farmers satisfied, he said, and the list will make it easier to reach all of the drummers.

David Redden, a drum circle participant and self-proclaimed Santa Cruz “yocal,” explained that drum circle participants do not intend to negatively affect the merchants’ sales or to offend citizens.

“There is a downturn in the economy, and people are looking for scapegoats,” Redden said. “Some of the merchants will blame us for a loss in sales, but we always try to understand where the merchants are coming from and listen to their concerns.”

Eva Stevens, a UC Santa Cruz student and vendor for Zipcar, takes pleasure in being able to work near the drum circle every Wednesday. She supports having the unique and lively work environment, she said.

“I absolutely enjoy the drum circle,” Stevens said. “It is a cultural and social thing that has been going on in Santa Cruz for quite some time and I do not see any harm in it.”

The gates have been down for five weeks, and police and citizens are content with the results.

“I’m very happy that it was relatively easy to build a compromise once we realized that it was something we wanted,” Adams said. “I commend Sgt. Harms for having the fences removed as an act of good faith that he intends to find other alternatives.”