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Indybay Feature

City Circus Back In Town: Sinister Sidewalk Singing Trials Resume

Tuesday, August 03, 2010
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Event Type:
Court Date
Robert Norse
309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Location Details:
Food and demo: 9:30 AM in front of the County Courthouse on the steps at PeaceCamp2010 at 701 Ocean St.

Trials: 10 AM in the basement of the adjacent County Building in Dept. 10 next to the law library.

The Facer/Norse trials resume from where they left on July 20.

For more background, see ""Unreasonably Disturbing Noises" Trial Continued for Robert Facer and Robert Norse" at

and "More Sidewalk Singing Tickets Go to Trial " at

The issue is whether the police and city attorney will continue to crack down on street performers and political activists at the whim of a private complainant using the pretext of "unreasonably disturbing noise".

The City Attorney's involvement seems to be part of a new legal attack from above.

This includes a gala city-funded $50-100,000 campaign to criminalize sleeping for two homeless musicians in a Civil Injunction hearing.

As well as a ludicrous "walk in a parade without a permit; get a citation" action against activist Wes Modes. See "Stop Legal Warfare Against Homeless & Activists" at

At the same time, the City Attorney's office is busy creating new repressive laws against"criminal" sitters, sleepers, and street performers who ignore the abusive tickets being given to run them out of town.

See "Nasty new ordinance making Sleeping Ban Tickets misdemeanors" at

The Facer/ Norse trials were continued from three weeks ago when Facer's attorney Ed Frey and Robert Norse presented a motion to quash the trial. This prompted Commissioner Kim Baskett to suspend the trials for 3 weeks to give the City Attorney's office time to respond.

Frey and Norse argued that because the state penal code's Disturbing the Peace "preempts" the field.

If the motion is granted (which is unlikely) the trials would be halted and the city attorney would have to file (or have a D.A. file) a "Disturbing the Peace" charge under PC 415.

This, according to Frey, would require the prosecution to prove " a clear and present danger of creating violence" or "a specific intention to disrupt or annoy others".

Since Commissioner Basket has sentenced others in the past under the UDN ordinance, I find it unlikely she would have the courage or independence to grant the motion--however valid it may be.

We are also planning other constitutional arguments--as well as a tasty morning munch-a-long, compliments of India Joze master chef, Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz.

Songs and speeches may also slurp out onto the sidewalk.

PeaceCamp2010 may also be speaking on some of its issues.

The show begins at 9:30 AM at PeaceCamp2010. All are invited.
Added to the calendar on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 9:24AM
The Sinister Sidewalk Singing Citation Circus:

Tuesday August 3 10 AM Dept. 10
in the basement of the County Building 701 Ocean St.
Music & Munchables 9:30 AM in front of the Courthouse 701 Ocean St.
Robert "Blindbear" Facer, a homeless street musician, and Robert Norse, a housed activist and long-time supporter of homeless civil rights, go to trial for violation of MC 9.36.020. Attorney Ed Frey, founder of the PeaceCamp2010 protest will defend Facer; Norse will defend himself.

This law used against the political protesters bans daytime “unreasonably disturbing noise” [udn] that is “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.” The noise banned is singing.
§Same Old Song: Trial Continued Until September
by Robert Norse
The trial was postponed until early September because the Commissioner Baskett's court staff had failed to verify that their recording equipment was working.

Commissioner Baskett disrespectfully kept over a dozen people waiting for two hours in the process.

A Deputy City Attorney, Sean Reilly, and Officer Schonfeld showed up in the City's continuing struggle against Sinister & Subversive Sidewalk Singing.

Baskett indicated she'd probably rule against our motion seeking to have the case dismissed because state law overrules the city ordinance and preempts the field. That motion will be argued when the afternoon trial resumes next month.

We estimate the City has spent thousands of dollars on briefs, court appearances, and the like so far. All in a case that involved rather standard sidewalk singing in a low-key homeless protest in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz.

The key issue for me continues to be the City's abuse of the Unreasonably Disturbing Noise (UDN) ordinance in order to drive away musicians at the whim of a private complainant.

Drummer Brent Adams had his Unreasonably Disturbing Noise citation postponed for several weeks when he'll see if he can find an attorney to take the case.

PeaceCamp2010 resident, drummer, and feather-hatted activist Robert Facer was due to have a charge of "sitting within 14' of a phone booth" dismissed, according to an earlier statement from Baskett in the afternoon. The charge was the final chapter of the day in the harassment march forced on the Drum Circle when it was driven away from the Elm St. Parking Lot several months ago.
§Trial to Resume September 2nd 1:30 PM Dept. 10
by Robert Norse
The Singsong Trial will resume at 1:30 PM on September 2nd.

Robert Facer's "sinister sitting" citation was not dismissed, according to a recent e-mail from PeaceCamp2010. Rather it was "continued" until 10 AM on September 2nd.

Another example of Commissioner Baskett's saying one thing and doing another. (She advised us in court that she'd be dismissing it in the afternoon; advised us we could have a continuance if we needed it because of the witness problems she'd created by delaying the trial, but then held us all for an hour and a half until she finally agreed to do what she said---after we'd huddled with the City Attorney to force the issue.)
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Robert Norse (and Sean Reilly)
Mon, Aug 16, 2010 2:48PM
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