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Three Decisions in Court in the Wes Modes "Parading Without a Permit" Case
Date Monday August 16
Time 8:00 AM - 8:45 AM
Location Details
701 Ocean St. in the Courthouse--Dept. 5, Judge Almquist's court
Event Type Court Date
Organizer/AuthorRobert Norse
Community activist Wes Modes has worked to establish the Guerrrilla Drive-In, the Free Skool, the Sub Rosa Cafe, the Trash Orchestra, and the DIY Last Night New Year's Celebrations.

He is now being harassed in court by petty city officials seeking to punish him for walking in last December's DIY New Year's parade "knowing it had no permit"--along with hundreds of others (who aren't getting cited or taken to court).

The trial was held last month ("Parade Prosecution: People Versus Wes Modes" at ) with extensive coverage in the follow-up story ("People v. Wes Modes: Trying to Remove DIY from Santa Cruz" at

Subsequently, attorney Gettleman filed a motion calling the ordinance requiring a Parade Permit unconstitutional (

At this hearing Almquist will decide three issues:

1. Whether Wes is guilty of the infraction offense of walking in a parade, knowing it had no permit.

2. If he is guilty, whether his sentence for defending the Drum Circle back in September 2008, should be revoked and he should be sent to jail instead. This hearing had been scheduled according to his attorney for November, but has been unexpectedly moved up.

3. Whether the permit law is unconstitutional.

Attorney Gettleman isn't sure why Judge Almquist has moved things up.

It could be that the judge wishes the whole matter dismissed. It could be that he's decided to punish Wes by sending him to jail--on a matter that would normally be an infraction, punishable by fine or community service.

The D.A. has reportedly assured Gettleman that he too doesn't think this matter merits any jail. Gettleman hopes for the best but is unsure of the outcome

Wes writes:

I'm back in court (dept 5) at 8am Monday morning, apparently. The judge will offer his final verdict for the Parade infraction in which my lawyer challenged the constitutionality of the law.

Somewhat surprisingly , this judge also wants to give a final sentence for the unrelated drum circle misdemeanor (for the last 8 months I've had a suspended sentence in which I performed 250 hours of community service). So far, I don't know what got this ball rolling.

So if you can make it, court support is a super helpful way to support those going through the legal process....

Of course we know by now, that keeping an activist tied up in court for years is one of the best ways to keep us off the streets.

Let's see how we can support each other in the future as we work hard to make this a more interesting, more spontaneous, and more compassionate world.

Yours, Wes

I'll be trying to reach Wes and his attorney Sunday morning on my show.

Free Radio Santa Cruz still needs a transmitter site and has been off the air for the last 8 nights (help us find a site!), but it still streams at

And my shows archive at under the heading "Bathrobespierre's Broadsides".

Listen in and call in at 831-469-3119.

Come on down to the court to support a community activist who has created real community services and is clearly under attack.
Added to the calendar on Friday Aug 13th, 2010 10:18 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by DW
Saturday Aug 14th, 2010 12:38 PM
Well, the scheduling of item 2 is likely an indication of the verdict in item 1 and the decision on whether the permit ordinance is constitutional (item 3)
by Major Domo
Saturday Aug 14th, 2010 1:11 PM
I do think that keeping Wes tied up in court for years, and possibly in jail for some time, is probably a blessing in disguise, since we can now see what the limits of the pigs are. Also, this will be a good case study in how to beat the courts, by avoiding the mistakes Wes made. I'll be gong down to the jail the day they take Wes away to beat my drum in protest. Who will join me?
by Kris
Saturday Aug 14th, 2010 9:43 PM
Wish we could be there for you Wes. You're an awesome guy, and an inspiration. Hang in there.
-Your friends in Tucson.
Wes is being scapegoated. More evidence for the growing Police State. In any case we will be driving down from the East Bay.
by Red Hill Legal Support
Monday Aug 16th, 2010 11:34 AM
Court finds with City in Continuing Harassment of DIY Activist

August 16th, Santa Cruz - Anarchists activists and former parade organizer Wes Modes was found guilty this morning of walking in the DIY New Year's parade along with thousands of other participants. Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Jeff Almquist rejected arguments that the citation was discriminatory and that the city's permit requirements were unconstitutional.

Judge Almquist denied that the law was applied discriminatory, despite defense witnesses at trial who testified that they had also marched in the parade, and even wrote and called the city attorney and council to say they participated in the unpermitted parade and had received no citation.

Judge Almquist also denied a lengthy challenge to the City's permit requirements without addressing all of the points it brought up. According to a constitutional brief filed by Modes' lawyer Jonathan Gettleman after trial, "in order to express one's constitutional rights in a public forum in the City of Santa Cruz, participants must pay high variable fees, obtain a million dollar insurance policy, tell everyone in the vacinity od their intention, obtain a complicated permit, indemnify the City from all liability, and pay the meter fee for everyone who might have parked their car and paid for it along the 'marching' route." Defense argued that this is "an overbroad delegation of authority to government officials to control free speech and assemble," a chilling of free speech, and a constitutional violation.

The decision is the final stage of Wes Modes battle with the City over participation in the Last Night DIY Parade along with thousands of others. A visibly disappointed Modes told a crowd of supporters, "As part of the same system of cops and prisons, was I thinking the courts might offer fairness? I know better than that."

According to parade participants, the parade conviction is the latest in a series of police and city harassment that Modes has received since outing police infiltrators in 2005.


The Last Night Do-It-Yourself New Year's Parade is a Santa Cruz tradition since 2005. Modes helped organize the first DIY Parade which eschewed City permits. Police send undercover officers into community organizing meetings for several months, monitoring organizers and other first amendment activities. The city's own police auditor concluded that police had violated the civil rights of citizens. Under pressure from Modes and the ACLU, the city adapted guidelines on SCPD undercover activities.

The celebration itself 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. Though in 2009, city council member Mike Rotkin and the SCPD have grumbled about organizers not paying for permits, all the event details, including clean up and traffic control, is taken care of by event participants. Said Modes, "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."
by Robert Norse
Monday Aug 16th, 2010 2:20 PM
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