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Downtown Ordinances: More Meetings

In the next week look for numerous meetings and video showings bearing on the Downtown Ordinances and selective enforcement targeting the poor.
It would be interesting to see our own local equivalents of the Patriot Act exposed and removed. While action by Green Party activists and homeless advocates seems to have lessened overt intimidating surveillance of Downtown-for-All's "Merry Mondays" at Cooper and Pacific (at least by uniformed police officers), there is still an overt close-to-explicit attack on the civil liberties of poor people, street performers, and political activists downtown.

Police are given extraordinary discresionary powers to warn, cite, and arrest people--most likely to be poor people--for sitting on the sidewalk, on the cement lips of low-lying planter edges, congregating on ("blocking") the sidewalk, leaving "unattended" property. The new rubber stamp for Sgt. Baker and Sgt. MacPhillips police squads downtown has also much reduced the amount of music on the mall and targeted artists displaying their artwork. One poor pregnant woman has gotten two tickets for sitting with a panhandling sign after dark (it's illegal to sit with a sign soliciting, and it's illegal to show a sign after dark under the Reilly-Porter ordinances).

Good testimony on the issue can be found by watching Channel 25 at 1 PM on Saturday November 16th when Community TV replays the Citizens Police Review Board's Oct. 14th long public meeting with two hours of testimony backing up concerns expressed and ignored at the Reilly-Porter Downtown Problems Committee this summer (police harassment and selective enforcement).

A supposedly public meeting of the Downtown Issues Working Group (which is a joint subcommittee of the City Council and Downtown Commission headed by Reilly and Porter) meets 4-6 PM Tuesday November 19th at the ABC Room of the Civic Auditorium. Vice-Mayor Reilly's # for more info on the subject is 420-5022; the staff member assigned is Martin Bernal at 420-5010.

Two days later (Thursday November 21st) the Downtown Commission meets at 8:30 am at City Council chambers to once again follow the Reilly-Porter orders to clean up the Downtown Ordinances so the City isn't further embarrasssed with activista and street performers crammed into 5% of the public sidewalk on January 15th when the delayed remainder of the Downtown Ordinances go into effect.

I was literally arrested and removed from the last meeting of this group for declining to turn off a small tape recorder while making a tape for Free Radio Santa Cruz. [See early November indymedia posting "Porter Busts Norse for Recording Meeting".]

Additionally, several years ago (and I suspect the practice continues) police were regularly stopping youth, interrogating, and ID-photoing them. Are these photos now a part of files, even though no crimes were committed?

The Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB] meets Monday November 18th at 5:30 PM at 915 Cedar Street (NOT at City Council chambers as usual) where it will discuss why Chief Belcher has for a year delayed giving out publicly what the policy is for use of force, what happened in the summer of 2001 with the fatal police shooting of the bank robber parked in the Radio Shack parking lot near Soquel (did he ever actually fire a fatal shot?), as well as other issues.

Activist Sherry Conable's resolution to the CPRB comes up next month at the December meeting of the CPRB which asks for an end to certain sections of the Downtown Ordinances and seeks a clear policy against selective enforcement.

Get up, stand up, speak out for your rights and those of others! Video showings, debates, free chalk, and maybe some action next Merry Monday at Cooper and Pacific. With things getting dark early, the merrymakers will show early at 3:30 p.m.
 
 


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