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Saturn Cafe Birthday March / Reclaim The Streets

Report from this afternoon's 6p Saturn Cafe birthday / Reclaim The Streets march from the clocktower.
Report from this afternoon's 6p Saturn Cafe birthday / Reclaim The Streets march from the clocktower.
Some 50-75 people rallied at the clock tower at 6p this afternoon, in celebration of birthday of progressive diner Saturn Cafe located at the opposite end of Pacific Ave downtown.

Wearing costumes and stilts, bearing banners, trumpets, drums, signs, or in 3 cases only bare female breasts, the march literally shut down Pacific Ave for 2 blocks at a time.

While originally billed as the Saturn Cafe birthday march, an assortment of the usual themes appeared to take center stage. Among them were:

.. the new downtown ordinances said to tighten the Santa Cruz Police Dept's grip on downtown against anyone who isn't a tourist, banning sitting, panhandling, street performance and sale of goods by non-business owners, bubble blowing, and sidewalk chalking,

..older citywide laws against sleeping and camping by the homeless,

.. and laws forbidding women to go topless in public.

Lead by the regular faces of Robert Norse and Becky Johnson on a portable megaphone, the group marched down Pacific Ave passing out fliers and chanting their causes to an amused crowd. Eventually they found their way to Saturn Cafe, then moved on to the Santa Cruz Police Dept itself where Norse spoke of the expense of the new $13M police station whose construction ran over budget by $6M, and finally ended on the steps of the Louden Nelson Community Center where the SCAN City Countil Candidates Forum was being held tonight.

After the crowd had marched only a few blocks from the clocktower, an SCPD car initially parked in the center of Pacific Ave ahead of them.

The officer walked up to the head of the march, and appeared to be telling Norse that his march was not allowed, to which Norse replied "You're violating my 1st amendment rights". The officer replied "No, Im not violating your rights." Norse recorded the conversation on his ever-present tape recorder, but it was soon drowned out as protesters calmly flooded around and past the car, chanting all the way. This scene, sans the verbal interaction, was repeated several times.

From this point on to the end of the march, SCPD appeared to adopt a tactic of blocking the march in front and back at every intersection, yet made no effort to stop marchers and soon was even departing intersections just before marchers would arrive.

Their intimidation efforts having failed, rather than escalate the conflict as they normally do when facing individuals or much smaller groups, police seemed content with doing traffic control to help the march move smoothly and uneventfully through and out of downtown.

Other than the initial contact between the officer and Robert Norse, no interaction with police was seen and the march was never stopped. A number of police in cars and on bicycles, 3-5 each, hovered in front of and behind the march at all times. Sgt. "Butchie" Baker, notorious for an iron fist in the downtown beat, was among the vehicular traffic controllers.


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Groups protest downtown rules

Groups protest downtown rules


September 10, 2002
Sentinel staff report

SANTA CRUZ About 100 protesters walked down Pacific Avenue on Monday evening chanting ‘We’re here, we’re poor, we’re not going shopping.’’
The group was protesting downtown ordinance revision scheduled to take effect Thursday, banning hacky sack and after-dark begging, and increasing space limits for panhandlers, musicians who busk for money and political tablers.
Protesters including Uncle Sam, a Statue of Liberty on stilts and two women who went topless say the rules limit freedom of expression and discriminate against the poor. Supporters of the rules claim the ordinance revisions target aggressive panhandling, crowded sidewalks and rudeness downtown.
‘‘The rules are crazy,’’ said protester Marlene Winell. ‘‘Public space is public space, not shopping space.’’
The City Council meets tonight on an advisory group’s recommendation that the city postpone downtown rules affecting street musicians and tablers.
Several activist groups sponsored the protest, including a group that wants to see parts of Pacific Avenue turned into a pedestrian mall, at least temporarily.

Good Photos!

Congrats to the shutterbug who posted these photos.

Police acted appropriately throughout, diverting traffic. One lieutenant did accost me, demanding I "guarantee the safety of protesters" who had briefly taken over the street as they walked by and could I please "move them onto the sidewalk?" I replied that they made those choices themselves.

Hopefully there will be more peaceful and joyful reclaming of public space today at the 2 PM festival beginning at the Town Clock and headed for City Council.

good vibes

It warms my heart to see Mr. Norse acknowledge the good behavior of our local police and also his call for peace and joy. There is hope yet.


Please note, Robert Norse did *NOT* lead this march. What Robert Norse *DID* was monopolize the bull horn.

The march, in fact, was organized by nearly a dozen local activists and Saturn employees, none of whom care about receiving any credit.

I recommend that in future Santa Cruz marches that no single person be allowed more than 5 minutes on the megaphone. These marches are supposed to be group efforts, and they always get monopolized by intimidating mental-cases.


I was wondering about that. I remember asking a few people if they knew who had organized the event so I could get the "official" who/what/why, but no one had a clear answer.

Truth be told, I suspected in advance a quiet hijacking of the Saturn birthday march by the usual suspects of Downtown-For-All for the usual issues. When it was over, I walked away with the same suspicion. Unfortunately, no one in the march seemed to be asserting themselves on the matter, or I'd have interviewed them.

Great photos! You go!

I hope you all got to see my art show at Loudon Nelson: large-scale goddess-drawings.

Good luck with fighting these ordinances!

same as it ever was...

incredible how the place has gotten harder in spite of all the best efforts to shine love and share harmony. i lived in Santa Cruz on and off ( sans domicile) from '83-'87 and was constantly harrased by the police for NOTHING. from laying on a bench waiting for a freind to come out from a store to placing a shirt on a water pipe at the top of the mall while changing shirts. to streching out by hanging from an 8 inch in diameter tree branch, while waiting in bhakti tom's pickup while he cleaned up the common ground to enjoying a cookout on seabright beach their bizzare inhuman thought process targeted me and dozens of others who were not encumbered by home ownership, mortgages, bills etc.,etc.BUT if the taxpayers of Santa Cruz are willing to cough up for all that police presence making enjoying downtown nearly impossible for anyone wihtout a beefy credit line what are you gonne do beside rallies and protests , which for as long as i've known santa Cruz have availed zero in the way of softening the mindset toward the poor? AsGorgeous as that place is,it was too weird to have such an artificial , greedy , materialistic society superimposed over all the beauty. I moved and in a funny ironic twist. i now OWN my own home :) you're all welcome by the way ...

50-75 Not representative of population

This is nonsense, the representative population of Santa Cruz, does not agree or endorse this. As a "local" of 25 years, (yes I was born and raised here), I can not believe the deterioration of Santa Cruz's downtown in the past 3 years....Post 1989, the rebuilding...the business environment start to flourish and people felt welcome and comfortable in the downtown environment. Today we have individuals that "claim" it is their right to take back the Streets....whose streets are these? Who has contributed at all levels of society to provide this? WORKING PEOPLE, FAMILY PEOPLE AND CITIZENS. People who want to have children walk down the street irregardless of race, economics, sexual backgrounds, and not be HARRASSED.

Santa Cruz has digressed. and this type of demonstration does not deserve the attention it has gotten with the town council, and papers.

I believe in equal and fair opportunity, BUT I also believe IF the individual has CHOSEN street life as their path, then go make a living off of the land...I don't see any need for these people to beg. IF the circumstances are such that a mentally disabled person is in need, then it is our obligation as a society to provide for them. It is a crime and a shame for someone who is in this situation to be placed on the street.

HOWEVER>>>>> in Santa Cruz, OF ALL CITIES in USA we as a citizenship are the most proactive, compassionate town, and yet we get more whiners, who want more.

I say, go try another community, as you have exhausted the patience of this citizen and more.

Cops Are...........

Doesn't completely destroying people's lives on a regular basis register on even one cop's robotic feeling meter?
Police are the main deterrent to a free and democratic society, as they are armed and trained to be thugs to "protect"
the wealth of an upper class that only humors the police's stupidity at wanting to step on people's necks.
I hate that real crimes of violence are unpunished and subliminally encouraged in the "corrections" system, which is
the violence Pigs love to create contained and amplified.

Judge Knot lest ye...

'til YOUR car is ripped off, then who you going to call?

So young, so foolish, what a shame.


You go, Robert and you go - you real santa cruiseeansssss!!!

Keep Cruisin' Santa Cruzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!

john vance, editor
peoples bark news berkeley
San Marcos, Ca


i think in the article by Daniel Schwartz "sanitized downtown..." says it all in a nut-shell, when he says "...let us not crimialize suffering but look to those who create and cause suffering as criminals." Remember the movie"the never -ending story", where the only thing stopping the "nothing" from taking over everything was the dreams, fantasies, and imagination of human-beings? We must not give up and allow them to nullify all human dignity, free-dom of expression and diversity from the people of Santa Cruz. Loved the pictures. Especially loved the one of the delightful young man in the blue dress, as he is my son Brent, in whom i am very Proud! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! ellen adams

Your Living The Dream!

i read this on znet Quotes today. "The dream is real my friend--the failure to make it work is the unreality."


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