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City runs off Drum Circle again, cuts down trees and cements AREA CLOSED signs along levee

by Brent Adam
After finally finding a place to peaceably assemble to play drums together, the 10 year drum circle is harassed again as the city cuts down several trees and turns an area along the river walk into a no trespassing zone. Shameful!!
What used to be referred to as the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Drum Circle has been forced to bounce from spot to spot since they were crowded out by the recent expansion of the market last spring. The Drum Circle has had its battles with the police over the past couple of years, it had been fenced closed week after week but the drummers would remove it and continue to play as they have for 10 years. Eventually, folks (Jack & Wes Modes) had been arrested as they drummed in solidarity with the regulars but the weekly ritual remained and maintained this non-violent creative community activity. I had drummed with them for many years and have acted as an advocate for them several times as a liaison with the market management, police sgt. Mike Harms and the drum circle. I helped create the list of guidelines that hung on the trees for the past year.

I admit, I haven't been drumming with the drum circle since they've begun to inhabit the spot along the river levee at Soquel Ave, beside the bank and across the street from CVS. I do check up on it from time to time and I've been getting weekly reports. The police have been unobtrusive and kind. There have been no warnings or complaints or problems from what I've heard. If there has been a problem at all it is that some folks have been camping there full time. But now that there is Peace Camp 2010 at the county building just a quarter mile up the river the city has taken an inhospitable and highly oppressive maneuver and have cut down all of the trees in the area where the weekly drum circle had been enjoying its new home. Two signs had been cemented into the ground reading "Demonstration Garden AREA CLOSED KEEP OUT scmc 13.04.010:13.04.01" Both of these signs have since been removed.

On Wednesday July 28, the drummers had migrated down river to the area of the levee path adjacent to the parking lot at the Yoga Center. They were happy, sober, non-violent and friendly as ever. The drumming was good too.

When will Santa Cruz as a city and community finally allow these good people a neutral spot where they may play drums together peaceably for a 4 hour block just once each week? I think we can do that.

Brent Adams
§Santa Cruz Drum Circle
by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
July 21, 2010. Santa Cruz River Levee at Soquel Avenue Bridge
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Though I was only there at the very end, I heard that a part of the Drum Circle moved to the lawn near the County Building. They played in a grassy area under the trees at the invitation of PeaceCamp2010 yesterday. Ronee and other food supporters of the Drum Circle Scene were at PeaceCamp2010 distributing food. A stately old tree provided shade.

Does this mean Parks and Recreation will get out its buzzsaws again and unroll its "Do Not Cross" yellow tape to wall off another area from the Menace of Drumming?

I spoke with Steve Hammack of Parks and Rec a few days ago. He assured me that the city's "beautification" removal of trees and shrubs at the levee was being done to protect and upgrade the environment at both ends of the Soquel bridge. A day later I found Deputy Chief Kevin Vogel surveying the scene from the safety of a nearby bank parking lot saying he "knew nothing" about the situation.

Hammack said the man on the ground directly in charge of this "weed removal" operation is A. Eisenberg at 420-6156 and aeisesnberg [at], who works 7-3:30 PM. On the SCPD side, supposedly Lt. Bernie Escalante is in the know.

I encourage folks to get in touch for more info from this "Destroy the trees in order to save them" crew. Some Public Records Act requests might be timely--before the crucial documents get lost or shredded. This seems to be Hammack's pattern. (See "Superintendant Hammack Stonewalls on RV Ban in Coastal Parking Lots" at ).

When Hammack was approached for documentation on the removal of benches on Pacific Avenue, he actually had the nerve to state that there were no work orders or internal memos regarding who removed them, when, and why. All with a friendly smile.
by skybear
Lets see people,, We have several Pro drummers , arthur hull, jim grener, scbear, and others who are PAYED by HUGE corporations to teech the skills needed to incorporate a more respectable work enviroment using simple drum circle techniques.. Drum circles are a gathering of EVERY aspects of the social ladder,,, Whether it be drummers making 6 figures, to a person living out of there van, to the homeless, Drum circles are a very peacefull gathering that should be the LAST issue the local law enforcement should be dealing with , or the city council for that matter. When will these transplant polititians realized the art of the drum circle, give it a place to commence only ONCE A WEEK for 3-4 hours or so... WHATS THE BIG DEAL,,, It is SO EMBARISSING that Santa cruz, A centerpiece of the drum circle industry, having drumskull drums in the house, all these pro drummers, and a REAL tasty at times Drum circle that progresses at ANY givin location here in santa Cruz... I AM EMBARRISED WITH THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT that wont allow what santa cruz is famous for.. Street musicians, artist, drum circles, and liberal affair know throughout the world.. They ruined the farmers market downtown , to sell sno cones, pottery, t shirts, and garbAGE COOKED FOOD FOR WHAT???? tHESE POLITITIONS ARE RUINING OUR LIVING ENVIROMENT, OUR REPUTATION, AND OUR LIFESTYLE.. I plea to NOT vote for ANY of the recumbents in the next several elections. Send a message, that we locals WANT OUR TOWN AND LIFESTYLE BACK<<< BE WELL
by Seriously
You wrote that there are several professionals in the drum circle cadre who make a living playing their drums. And you say that you want your town back and blame this on "government".

To your second point, I politely disagree. It's pretty obvious to me from observation, action that has occurred, and informal polling of my friends and acquaintances in conversations whenever this topic has arisen is that the majority of Santa Cruzans do not want nor enjoy the drum circle.

...which brings me back to my first point.

If the general public doesn't want to deal with it but there are some pros making money in the equation, maybe a place/time could be found with their help to do it at a place where it won't piss so many people off. Maybe one of them has a studio or garage or private area? Maybe one would donate some funds to rent Louden or some other area for a few hours a week?

In honesty though, I don't think this idea will be considered. And I don't think it will be considered because I think one of the big allures for the drummers is their sense that they are being seen and appreciated by the public. On this point, I see an obvious disconnect between their perception vs. the perception of most Santa Cruzans.
by Drum Circle Friend
Your idea of "most Santa Cruzans" are the people who have homes. And it doesn't even include a large amount of people who are working and living in a vehicle or sleeping out or on a couch. Some of these people lost their homes when they became disabled. They are supporting each other with a place to sit (which is illegal in many places in S.C.) And a place to meet and even eat some food as well, and come together for an old tribal and spiritual ritual (which indians do and africans) of drumming together. As Americans we take on many traditions from cultures that we respect and spiritually connect with in their hearts.
Just because people who make more money can rent a place or pay permits doesn't mean people who can't pay for that has to be considered illegal or unsavory. THAT IS DISCRIMINATORY!
by Fra Richardus
The interchange....
The dialogue, if you will, between "SERIOUSLY" & DRUM CIRCLE FRIEND
Says a lot
Compact journalism
Briefly stating the essentials
of their respective positions.

How does the Great Santa Cruz public feel about this issue?
Hard to say.
We have some people with real needs versus, what i perceive, as
A strong N.I.M.B.Y. reaction.
Where will this lead?
by Rick
Are the participants in the drum circle all homeless?
by from Seriously
In answer to your post to me, I have to say that you primarily reinforced my perception: This drum circle is less about music than it is a political statement.

For starters, you suppose that by "most Santa Cruzans' I mean those with homes. I never said that. And even if I had, where does that line end? Only those who own homes? Those who rent? For believe me when I say that I know plenty of people who are simple renters who find the drum circle an irritating nuisance.

Secondly, your post supports my initial point of "the majority of Santa Cruzans do not want nor enjoy the drum circle.". By emphasizing that my viewpoint is (by your opinion) limited to those who dwell in houses, you prove my point, because the vast majority of Santa Cruzans DO live in houses. If anything, you're reinforcing my premise that the drum circle is more a political statement about homeless politics than it is a celebration of music.

And finally, in regards to your request that I avoid my "bigotry". Bigotry is defined as "A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. The correct use of the term requires the elements of intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.". In fact, I am not obsintately focused on this issue, nor intoleratn, nor devoted. I have simply voiced my personal opinion that I disagree that Santa Cruz is famous for its drum circle, or that the Farmers Market is ruined. I instead support the opinion that the supporters of the drum circle, as vocal as they are in support of same, are still in a distinct minority. And as such, I continue to maintain that to claim that the majority of this community supports it and that it's demise is soley at the instigation of a small cabala of politicos is ludicrous.

And in closing, I didn't say they were illegal or unsavory; I simply said they were unwanted by the majority of humans who live in this town, be they housed or not.

Thanks for the exchange.

Just because people who make more money can rent a place or pay permits doesn't mean people who can't pay for that has to be considered illegal or unsavory. THAT IS DISCRIMINATORY!
by Politely
What do you view as "the needs" of those who participate in the drum circle that separates them from those you describe as "nimby"?
by Sum Dim
Drum Circle Friend writes, "Your idea of "most Santa Cruzans" are the people who have homes."

This isn't just Seriously's idea, DCF. It's an empirical fact. Most Santa Cruzans do have homes. Most Santa Cruzans also have jobs, responsibilities and so on. Infact most Santa Cruzans couldn't hang out every Wednesday afternoon banging on trash cans for attention. They'd get fired from their jobs.

You need to put down the bong and realize that you, and not Seriously, are in the minority here. It's not anyone else's fault that you, or whomever it is you're speaking for, are without housing. Get a job and get real man.
by Fra Richardus
Response to "POLITELY"

When i framed the issue as one between those with real needs vs. N.I.M.B.Y. reaction;
I wasn't limiting the issue to just the drum circle but the wider issue of NIMBY vs what i will call THE OTHER
encompassing, i would guess, several groups or categories of individuals that middle class sensibilities have trouble dealing with
including the homeless, musicians, street performers, transients, beggars, poor people, non conformist etc.
It seems to me that there are many needs of these individuals are not being met by the present paradigm including very basic
ones such as food, shelter and medical care.
And lest we not forget love and a sense of community.
by Robert Norse
I doubt the majority of Santa Cruzans (housed and homeless) has a strong opinion one way or another about drumming. Particularly distant drumming.

Most Santa Cruzans probably do have a view about the protection of the First Amendment
....whether using cops and city personnel to run off drummers is a wise use of money,
....whether the city is passing increasingly paranoid anti-poor legislation (parking lot panic law, three infractions make a misdemeanor, smoking ban downtown),
....whether drummers at the distant Soquel bridge location pose any annoyance to anyone except those with an agenda to have them gone
.....whether destroying trees and fencing off areas to limit the public assembly of a particular class of people isn't simple bigoty institutionalized in the interests of gentrification,

As those who read my posts know, I regard this as another chapter in the ungoing war against counterculture and poor folks symbolized most recently by the absurd anti-panhandling meter law, the "show your IDs at a hotel or else" ordinance, the "forbidden to sit, perform, table, or panhandle" zones around the sacred penguin statutes, and the crackdown on sleepers on the Levee.

Again I encourage those who witness instances of police or private citizen harassment to note when, were, who, and what--and phone in the info to HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) at 423-4833 and/or Free Radio Santa Cruz (427-3772---Sunday mornings and Thursday nights). There's also a notebook at the Sub Rosa cafe for recording these incidents. Finally the Street Performers Guild, which will meet again in the near future, is concerned: I think Brent Adams (compassionman [at] or Tom Noddy (tnoddy [at] for more info here.

The views expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of Adams, Noddy, or the Street Performers Guild.
by But not likely
I disagree with Robert about the drumming; I do think it irritated plenty of people when it was at the market, and that's why it was moved out. I also think that the vast majority of market goers consider the addition of more stalls in that space to have improved the market. I don't believe that this is all happening because of a small hidden cohort of business owners while the general population doesn't care.

As for the "distant Soquel bridge" spot? For starters, a block off the mall and directly next to the bike path and one of the busiest bridges in the city is hardly distant. And was it really the drumming that got it moved, or the fact that the crew started hanging out 24-7 and using it as a party/crash pad, with the attendant trashing that entailed?

"I doubt the majority of Santa Cruzans (housed and homeless) has a strong opinion one way or another about drumming. Particularly distant drumming. "

I happen to know quite a few of the farmers and vendors who work the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market, as well as those participating in some of the other Farmer's Markets. Since the drum circle was moved off of the lot the individual vendors who were there prior have noticed anywhere between a 30%-50% increase in business from years past in the same time period. The number one comment from customers? "We're so happy that those drummers are no longer here. It kept us away". Accompanying those comments from attendees are comments from the farmers themselves. Those that work the Santa Cruz Market as well as the ones in Live Oak and Cabrillo say that they have received comments during the other two markets for years about how people didn't want to go to the one in Santa Cruz because of the drummers, drugs, drinking, and bad behavior. Now they are noticing some of the Cabrillo and Live Oak customers attending the Santa Cruz market.

Seeing a jump in business of 30%-50% would definitely show that there are a large number of people out there who did not like the drummers. The attitude of the farmers is much more mellow and relaxed. They can actually hear their customers ask questions about their farming practices and answer them without having to scream. They aren't assaulted with the droning beat for hours on end any longer either. The farmers are really quite ecstatic that the noise is gone. They feel like they are now working in a relaxing environment.
by Robert Norse
Check out the trial for singing political songs outside Coonerty's Bookshop tomorrow at 10 AM. Come early at 9:30 AM and chow down with PeaceCamp2010 folks and other riff n raff.

The claims of critical posters are themselves unlikely.

Farmers and vendors didn't have to "scream" when the Drum Circle was at its traditional spot.

"Drugs, drinking, and bad behavior"? "#1 Comment"? These unlikely claims lead me to suspect we are talking with someone who...doesn't like te drummers and countercultural gatherings downtown generally.

Everyone's entitled to their preferences. It's when you legislate those preferences into exclusionary ordinances and practices that you create hostility, polarization, and resistance.

The fact that the police have pursued the Drum Circle as well as other performers around town with the abusively used UDN ordinance is telling evidence of an agenda.

It might "improve business" markedly to exclude different classes of people--that wouldn't make it something desirable--except to those whose bottom line is the $.

Unless you like the agenda of the Downtown Association, the Downtown Neighbors, and Take Back Our Town, it's time to start organizing to restore public spaces and the rights traditionally associated with those spaces that are being steadily stolen.
by Seriously
Robert's use of hyperbole and disinformation to further his agenda would do Goebbel's proud. (Hmm, maybe that similarity is where his infamous Nazi salute came from?).

-"The claims of critical posters are themselves unlikely." No, they aren't; your denial is. I invite you to put a proposition on the next ballot to assess public opinion about the drum circle.

-"Farmers and vendors didn't have to "scream" when the Drum Circle was at its traditional spot.". Not even worth responding to this obvious lie.

-"Drugs, drinking, and bad behavior"? "#1 Comment"? These unlikely claims lead me to suspect we are talking with someone who...doesn't like te drummers and countercultural gatherings downtown generally." Well, let's see. There was the regular pot smoking. There was the meth dealer busted. There was Wes''s assault and subsequent guilty plea and conviction for interfering with an officer. There was the idiot who injured himself tearing down the fence. There was the guy attacked by pit bull.

....need we continue? I think not. You live a fantasy of lies Norse. The majority of us live in the reality of Santa Cruz. Does the multi-million dollar personal inheritance confuse brain synopses?
by Charismatic Megafauna
"Drugs, drinking, and bad behavior"? "#1 Comment"? These unlikely claims lead me to suspect we are talking with someone who...doesn't like te drummers and countercultural gatherings downtown generally."

Oh please. "unlikely claims"? You've got to be kidding. As the previous person said there have been regular citations given out for drug use and dealing. There was that meth thing and all. Citations had been given out for drinking alcohol on a few occasions. Confrontations were commonplace that resulted in disrupting the market. You're making it sound as if nothing ever happened except for quiet and enjoyable drumming while unicorns pranced about farting rainbows out of their asses. Get real. Be honest.
by Robert Norse
Actually citations were few and far between. "Disruptions" of the market were virtually non-existent. Perhaps the previous posters could give us the dates of any citations they claimed happened?

There was, of course, the near-riot created by the police in October 2008 their attempt to harass a Foo d Not Bombs activist there as part of the Robinson-Coonerty "fence-off the drummers" campaign.

The fact that folks broke the Marijuana Prohibition publicly is actually a positive phenomenon and a sign that the spirit of liberty and rationality is still alive here.

Apparently it's okay to drink booze along Pacific Avenue in hoity-toity joints along the segments of the previously public sidewalk colonized by the businesses, but not at a community gathering. This kind of twisted justification of class legislation reflects the kind of Coonerty "homeless cleansing" mentality we need to fight.

The crackdown on musicians downtown continues, as "False Alarm" security guards do their selective "move along" trip against disfavored individuals. An African-American tarot card reader, reported to me Tuesday that he witnessed and experienced sufficient color-conscious harassment the uniformed "tykes on bikes". He termed it racist activity, because he observed that folks of color were told to move along every hour. A white painter outside O'Neill's was not. I confirmed the painter's apparent immunity from warning or harassment by speaking with him directly.
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