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Drum Circle Defense: Confronting the Crackdown

Wednesday, May 05, 2010
2:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz 95060
Location Details:
Cedar and Lincoln at the new site of the Drum Circle in the Pearl Alley parking lot across from Jack's under the trees--at least where they've gathered for the last two weeks after having been driven away from their traditional spot in Parking Lot #4 next to the Farmer's Market at Cathcart and Cedar.

Last week, according to activist and drummer Brent Adams, Sgt. Michael Harms advised drummers that tickers were likely to issue this week from "citizen complaints". (See "Sgt. Harms Reportedly Issues Ultimatum to the Downtown Drum Circle: at

Drummers decided to confer this week at the Drum Circle to decide what to do.

I regard the police citation threat as another move on street culture, public space, and political activists that has little to do with substantive legal concerns or even legitimate community concerns.

Drummers and the community that comes tomorrow will decide what they want to do if police attempt to shut down the Drum Circle.

I believe the event is an important community gathering place where folks of all classes (but particularly poor people) are welcome.

The window-breaking vandalism on Saturday night may be used as a convenient pretext to move on this group of non-violent people, who have been doing downtown drumming for over a decade in this general area.

I fear that any shutdown of the event will impact other musicians and performers downtown. It will tend to encourage cops who don't respect the law and Constitution as written. It will dismay and anger others who expect more tolerance for the few cultural activities actually open to poor and homeless people.

It may lead some to believe that police and those they front for have no respect for traditional Santa Cruz counterculture. Such disrespect aggravates tensions downtown between merchants and the street community.

At the moment, some have significant sympathy for the merchants in the face of the random and senseless window breaking Saturday night. Shutting down peaceful drummers aggravates extremists on both sides.

If police are not to be seen simply an arm of the merchants, the police must abandon their "get a complaint, order a move-along" procedure. Police higherup's know--or should know--that this is not what the law is about.

I've written extensively about the misuse of the Unreasonably Disturbing Noices ordinance elsewhere (See "The Police Move-Along Mantra" in the longer story "Sinister Street Singers Trials Consolidated and Postponed Until July" at

I encourage community members to come out, witness, and support the Drum Circle--which will be facing increased pressure from those who feel that all activity in public spaces must cater to the veto of those who dislike the activity.

Bring chairs, cameras, vidcams, festive spirits, and friends.

The Drum Circle itself may not start until later in the afternoon (last week, Drummer Dave reported that drummers didn't start until Jack's closing time at 4 PM to respect the possible sensitivities of patrons athere).

But having witnesses there throughout may ensure that police do not overstep their authority and encourage drummers to exercise their rights. A meaningful dialogue and sensible decision is more likely if drummers feel supported.

It goes without saying that I urge folks to be persistent and peaceful.
Added to the calendar on Tue, May 4, 2010 8:01PM
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Robert Norse
Thu, May 6, 2010 5:24PM
Valerie Christy
Thu, May 6, 2010 4:37PM
Auntie Imperial
Thu, May 6, 2010 2:36PM
Auntie Imperial
Thu, May 6, 2010 2:33PM
Stephen K
Thu, May 6, 2010 2:28PM
Community member
Thu, May 6, 2010 2:06PM
Auntie Imperial
Thu, May 6, 2010 12:16PM
Thu, May 6, 2010 11:58AM
Auntie Imperial
Thu, May 6, 2010 11:35AM
Auntie Imperial
Thu, May 6, 2010 8:29AM
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