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Sour Song of Suppression: Snuffing Out Political Music on Pacific Avenue

Thursday, September 02, 2010
1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Event Type:
Court Date
Robert Norse
309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Location Details:
1 PM In front of the Courthouse at 701 Ocean St.
1:30 PM in Dept. 10 in the basement of the County Building

Songs and soup in front of the Courthouse at 1 PM. Then down to the basement of the County Building.

This is a continuation of the infraction trial against myself and Roberrt "Blindbear" Facer (represented by Attorney Ed Frey). We are accused of "Unreasonably Disturbing Noise" at a demonstration to publicize the high number of homeless deaths in 2009 in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz on January 6.

The event largely consisted of petitioning, distributing flyers, interviewing and polling passersby, and serving soup. Some singing was also involved as had been done at more than a dozen previous such events at the same spot.

We learned after the fact that some of the singing had apparently disturbed a tenant two floors up.
A day sleeper who says he works at night, Sean Reilly mistakenly or falsely claimed we'd been making a huge racket since 11 AM.

Reilly didn't bother to let us know he was having trouble sleeping or needed more quiet, but instead called the police more than four hours after he was disturbed.

Though all singing stopped when the police officer arrived and made Reilly's complaint, the officer variously told us to stop playing or leave.

When pressed, she suggested we play more softly, but wouldn't tell us how softly it was necessary for us to play to be legal, nor whether the volume she heard was "unreasonably disturbing".

Officer L. Schonfield eventually became annoyed with our repeated requests that she clarify what was legal, since singing was a part of our protest activity and presumably First Amendment protected.

She then told Reilly that he'd have to file a formal charge to "stop the singing" (even though her demand had stopped it and it never started again). In response, Reilly came down and identified six people, of whom four were cited.

The bail was $445, and required half a dozen court appearances so far. City Attorney John Barisone inexplicably took up the prosecution.

Barisone's involvement in this case, the Wes Modes case, the Richardson/deLeon Injunction, the creation of new laws criminalizing the homeless, and the crackdown on Peacecamp2010 seem to indicate an ominous escalation of repression against activists--homeless and otherwise--in Santa Cruz.

In a decision which astonished and outraged most everyone in the courtroom, Judge Jeff Almquist found Becky Johnson of "unreasonably disturbing noise"--a decision which her attorney Ed Frey is appealing.

Joe Schultz, coincidentally a witness in the case, will be providing tasty soup or some other repast in front of the courthouse at 1 PM, and we may sing a few songs to encourage more subversive sidewalk singing.

Bring your best voices, some musical friends, and hopes for a miracle (a just verdict).

Prior stories at

The lyrics to one of the subversive songs can be found at:
Added to the calendar on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 4:00PM
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Jason D
Wed, Sep 22, 2010 8:07AM
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