Santa Cruz IMC
Santa Cruz IMC
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Harassment of local activist continues as city tries to put an end to Last Night DIY Parade
by Red Hill Legal Support
Wednesday Apr 14th, 2010 10:06 AM
Wes Modes targeted as city tries to put an end to Last Night DIY parade
SANTA CRUZ, CA-- When local activist Wes Modes accepted a misdemeanor plea deal in December 2009 for his part in defending the Farmer's Market Drum Circle, he figured that would be the end of it. A year suspended sentence and some community service. No problem, he thought. Now the Santa Cruz District Attorney is saying that Modes violated his plea agreement by organizing the Last Night DIY parade. Here's the thing: Modes did not organize that event in 2009.

According to Last Night participants, the new infraction is the latest in a series of police harassment that Wes has received since outing police infiltrators in 2005. "Wes is being unjustly targeted for being an outspoken critic of the Santa Cruz Police Department. He's being singled out from a crowd of community organizers, facilitators and participants. It goes completely against the community spirit of this Santa Cruz celebration," said parade participant Grant Wilson. Now Modes' freedom hinges on a minor code violation for participating in a parade celebrated by the entire Santa Cruz community.

Before the Last Night Do-It-Yourself parade, the city of Santa Cruz sponsored First Night Santa Cruz, an expensive New Year's Eve event that sputtered out in 2004 due to lack of funds. In 2005, Modes and some of friends decided to pick up where First Night left off--and do it cheaper. They put out a call for performers and announced a DIY parade that would meet at one end of Pacific and march to the other. They also eschewed the city permits, which accounted for half of the official First Night budget.

When the police caught wind of the plans for the event, they sent undercover officers to infiltrate the organizing meetings for three months. Records released after the incident revealed a pattern of abuses, including infiltrating parade organizers, monitoring other unrelated groups and first amendment activities, and compiling dossiers of organizers. The city's own police auditor concluded that police had violated the civil rights of citizens and, under pressure from Modes and the ACLU, the city adapted guidelines on SCPD undercover activities.

The celebration was a great success and Last Night quickly became a Santa Cruz tradition. Families line Pacific to watch the parade, which is filled with musicians, puppets, jugglers and unicyclers. The event provided a safe and free way for locals to enjoy downtown on New Year's Eve. All the event details, including clean up and traffic control, is taken care of by the participants of the event. According to Modes, "neither I nor any of the original organizers have done anything to organize the parade in years, other than occasionally updating the website. The parade is an example of communities coming together to create a diverse and interesting celebration without the help of the city, businesses, or institutions."

No one has ever been cited for organizing or participating in the event. Until now. Many people have been public about their part in creating the event, but Modes alone received a citation in the mail for "conducting a non-commercial event without a permit." Though in recent years, city council member Mike Rotkin and the SCPD have grumbled about the organizers not paying for permits, the celebration has always been peaceful and joyous. In fact, in 2007, then Deputy Police Chief Patty Sapone commented on Last Night, saying "The city is very quiet. . . We haven’t had any major problems."

Because the charge is an infraction, Wes is not eligible for a public defender nor a jury trial. The judge refused Wes' request for a pretrial hearing and time to prepare and scheduled the trial for May 14th. This means that Wes has one month to raise money for a lawyer and prepare for trial. Wes may lose his freedom for helping to create an event celebrated by the entire Santa Cruz community.

Ways to support Wes:
  • Come to Wes' court date on May 14th at 1:30pm
  • Help raise money for a good lawyer, possible fines, and other legal costs
  • Write a letter talking about your own self-organized participation in the parade
For more information see the Red Hill Legal Support website or email redhill [at] riseup [dot] net.
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
WTF? An update...WesWednesday Apr 28th, 2010 7:28 PM
Benefit Dinner and Film Showing for Wes ModesRed Hill Legal SupportMonday Apr 26th, 2010 3:02 PM
Discovery Received and Media Action RequestWes ModesTuesday Apr 20th, 2010 9:27 AM
violent protest? support? goon squad? seriously?studentFriday Apr 16th, 2010 12:14 PM
Mayor supports violent protest, but not paradeBruce HollowayFriday Apr 16th, 2010 9:26 AM
Legal SupportRed HillThursday Apr 15th, 2010 1:31 PM
Parade, protest, etcduhThursday Apr 15th, 2010 1:29 PM
what protest?berkeley billThursday Apr 15th, 2010 10:50 AM
you're missing the point(a)Thursday Apr 15th, 2010 9:32 AM
Sketchy fiscal reportingOn the "half budget" statementWednesday Apr 14th, 2010 5:37 PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


donate now

$ 144.50 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network