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City directed police shutdown of artists and PUBLIC ALERT on Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz, CA

by The Jones/Skelton Report
15 minute video of the City directed police shutdown of artists and protesters Alex Skelton and Joff Jones on Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz, CA. on July 6, 2016.
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The peaceful gathering and protest of new and highly controversial Santa Cruz municipal ordinance 2016-07 by artists Alex Skelton and Joff Jones, after extensive presence on the avenue since early May 2016, was finally cited as violating the restrictions of this ordinance, and the peaceful protest of this ordinance and the requirements demanded by it and it's enforcement led to the arrest of Jones and Skelton. Ordinance available at
§Photos from the ALERT 1
by The Jones/Skelton Report
We were found "NOT GUILTY" for our activity "outside a 'display device' zone" leading to our arrest this day.
§Photos from the ALERT 2
by The Jones/Skelton Report
We were set up in protest outside the "boxes" or "zones" during this protest. No enforcement for this look.
§Photos from the ALERT 3
by The Jones/Skelton Report
We were set up in protest outside the "boxes" or "zones" during this protest. No enforcement for this look.
§Photos from the ALERT 4
by The Jones/Skelton Report
After 8 months of non enforcement related to the "boxes" or "zones", enforcement begins anew. The District Attorney "declined to pursue charges" for this days activity.
§Photos from the ALERT 5
by The Jones/Skelton Report
We returned to report on a story we felt was being overlooked by the local media. We also set up a protest outside of the "zones" or "boxes" again. No enforcement for this look, either.
§Photos from the ALERT 6
by The Jones/Skelton Report
We returned to report on a story we felt was being overlooked by the local media. We also set up a protest outside of the "zones" or "boxes" again. No enforcement for this look, either.
§Photos from the ALERT 7
by The Jones/Skelton Report
11 police for art? The District Attorney "declined to pursue charges" for this days activity, as well.
§Photos from the ALERT 8
by The Jones/Skelton Report
Birth of the PUBLIC ALERT. No enforcement for this look (then).
§Photos from the ALERT 9
by The Jones/Skelton Report
The first enforcement of the "new" municipal ordinance 2016-07. Joff Jones and Alex Skelton were both arrested on this day for their peaceful protest "outside the box".
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by wtf2016
Why the blocked-out faces?
by Laurel Skelton
As indicated by the protest sign, the point of the protest is not police behavior, either individually or as a force. Especially in the current climate of police aggression and also police being targeted for attack, it is important that it is clear to the public that the Santa Cruz police force has acted in a peaceful and professional manner.

The protest is for the infringement of Constitutional rights by City lawmakers and undetermined City officials who are directing enforcement of the ordinances.

Enforcement has been inconsistent and selective, and has included issuing citations and making arrests under the old ordinance, even after the subjects were found NOT GUILTY. The police are representatives of the city, but they are acting under the obligation of their duties to uphold Santa Cruz municipal code. Although they have sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of citizens, they are in the difficult position of having to enforce a law which is both unconstitutional, and confusing.

As can be seen in the video, police have been patient with the persistent and impassioned challenge of the ordinance, and with the demonstration of some of the arguments surrounding the ordinance and its enforcement.
by Robert Norse
Congrats to Alex and Joff for continuing their colorful, relevant, and probably tiring struggle to defend not merely their rights, but the rights of everyone down on Pacific Avenue.

And to Laurel Skelton for backing her son's work (both artistic and educational) downtown.

I do not agree the SCPD is innocent here. They make choices as to who, when, and where to cite. If they engage in false arrest, it is standard, if one can find the legal resources, to sue them individually as well as the City.

Police bear responsibility not merely for removing the rights of those they arrest, but removing the right of the community to (a) see the artwork, (b feel safe and secure in the downtown area, and (c) feel their own rights to do what Alex and Joff (and other street artists and vendors are doing) is not hauled away in handcuffs. However politely and "respectfully".

Various police departments are lethally armed and willing to kill to enforce their commands. This has been brutally shown dramatically in the last week. The notion that Santa Cruz is somehow immune from this toxic institutional situation is naive.

What's really dangerous is the community's willingness (and I refer to both passersby and nearby merchants) to tolerate this kind of official daylight bullying and kidnapping (however "nicely" done) and remain silent. The saddest sight is the empty sidewalks as police move in to remove the two artists.

The amount of money spent enforcing these bogus"Quality of LIfe" ordinances designed to remove the "non-commercial" elements from the City is, according to assistant City Manager Tuna Shull, over a million a year. See "Freedom Sleepers Anniversary: One Year of Protesting the Sleeping Ban at City Hall" at .

Meanwhile vital bus routes are cut back; human services are starved, and new Ranger patrols stalk Pacific Avenue, while the city dresses itself up to serve the well-to-do.

The kind of resistance that Joff and Alex are sustaining is vital. Others need to join them--to provide collective solidarity. Individual voices are heroic. Masses and mass orqanization win the war--as the CIO struggles of the 30's and the anti-war actions of the 60's showed.
Thank you for your words of support, Robert, and for making some excellent points.

We’re aware of the Bivens and 1983 remedies for holding individuals (including police officers) accountable. Police are, however, usually granted a measure of immunity, and those remedies are usually reserved for very strong cases of abuse of authority.

There has been much contemplation about what the truly important issues are and how to best address them, with an effort not to go down the rabbit hole of (possibly) misdirected blame or divisiveness, which would likely just be a distraction from accomplishing the truly important objectives.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the importance of protecting the community rights (your a, b, c list). I also believe that the police department has the right to expect that lawmakers do their job properly and not create unconstitutional laws which officers are obliged to enforce. The police have been put in a very difficult position, and it is unknown what kind of pressure and directives they may be getting from superiors or other city departments.

Yes, it is sad to see those empty sidewalks while they are being arrested, but many people are fearful of any contact with police, for a variety of reasons. There are always a few supporters around, however. Courageous people have sometimes offered shouts, songs, blessings, prayers, or murmurs of support, and complete strangers have been willing to help out by taking possession of a camera while Joff or Alex are being cuffed, and keep it rolling and secure until contact can be made, such as happened during the video, above. Noble deeds like this are so very much appreciated.

Yes, resistance to unconstitutional laws is vital. Not only artistic expression and performance are being restricted, of course, but all kinds of speech – political speech, charitable solicitations, and educational speech, including discussion of the important topics of concern which you mentioned. Especially in the current political and social climate, protection of our rights for the free exchange of ideas is crucial.

Your support of Joff and Alex, your many years of fighting SCMC 5.43 (and the current code), and your work supporting the rights of the homeless, is appreciated - thank you.
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