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Cops Visit Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In

A Harrowing Tale of Authoritarian Intervention
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Cops Visit Guerilla Drive-In!
A Harrowing Tale of Authoritarian Intervention

Chapter 1: A Successful Benefit Belies The Coming Storm

The benefit was a roaring success. Something like 50 to 75 people came out to support Dances With Kittens and GDI on an "off" Friday. The movie was unexpectedly great. The new amp worked well. Everyone had a blast. Someone inquired about helping us financially to get a bulb or speakers (Was it you? Talk to us!)

Chapter 2: In Which The Authorities Visit Guerilla Drive-In

Now dealing with the cops is old hat for us. We've been kicked out of the Harvey West area and from under the Soquel Bridge. But we've been at the Westside railroad tracks site for two years now with no problem.

Just as the movie finished, a Santa Cruz Police officer came to tell us they'd received a noise complaint. He said that he was being "nice" and could easily ticket us for "amplified sound without a permit" and "noise after 10pm."

Chapter 3: In Which The Police Make Suggestions, We Make Like a Tree, and The Plot Thickens

The officer suggested that we get a noise permit ($33 per movie), cautioned us about being so near the tracks, etc etc. We noted that our movie was finished now and we'd soon be outta there. The officer stood around a long time flashing everyone's belongings and looking for any evidence of wrongdoing. No tickets were issued and no one was specifically harassed.

As we were putting the last of the stuff in our vehicles, and while the cop was still at the site wandering around looking for trouble, someone (not associated with GDI) vandalized the officer's car.

So the GDI collective talked about it, and bottom line we figure this might well make it harder for Guerilla Drive-In in the future, specifically this week's movie. In fact, we feel it is perfectly possible that the police may try to shut us down. We had a few things that we thought we might do to protect ourselves and maybe ensure some measure of peace from police harassment.

Chapter 4: In Which the Questions is Posed, Is The Law a Friend or a Foe?

Actually, I don't know. Seems sometimes like the laws are there to maintain the status quo and keep people in line, but I'll let you answer that question for yourself. However, it definitely helps to know your rights.

First we are on private property with permission of the land owner. We have the right to be there showing movies to our friends and community. The cops don't have a right to drop in on us without probable cause. It is as if you were in our own backyard.

Second, the amplified sound law in Santa Cruz requires you to have a permit unless the sound cannot be heard outside of private property or if it is not disturbing anyone. Third, the law regarding noise after 10pm requires you to make no loud noises after 10pm unless you are not disturbing anyone.

Chapter 5: In Which Possible Solutions Are Discussed

Well clearly, we've resolved to try our darnest to make sure we are not bothering anyone. This week, we are visiting with all of the Westside neighbors in the vicinity and inviting them to GDI and welcoming them to call us if we are being to loud or having fun at the expense of their sleep, &c. We also hope to find out if there was indeed a complaint or whether we were visited on one bored police officer's initiative.

At this Friday's movie, I'll give you an update and say a few words about our rights to be here enjoying movies together.

Chapter 6: In Which You Are Invited to Participate And We End Our Long Email

The reader is welcomed to contact us with your suggestions and to take action. What can you do?

* Talk to your neighbors, bring your kids, drag friends from out of town - show your support for GDI
* If you have a video camera, we invite you to come film any interactions we might have with the police at our next few movies.
* If you are a lawyer and a friend to GDI, we'd love to talk with you.
* Call the Santa Cruz police (420-5800) and tell them you value GDI and want them to leave us alone.
* Call the Santa Cruz City Council (420-5020) and ask them to direct the police to leave us alone. (
* Talk to us about how you can help..

So ends our harrowing tale. Thanks for being there and supporting GDI. You're great. See you on Friday.


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