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Time For All You Political Activists to MOVE ALONG!

New laws from the Reilly-Kennedy Council limit tabling time in any location to one hour and remove most of the sidewalk.

Expanded text of a speech given to Santa Cruz City Council on February 11th
“Move Along, Buddy. Your Hour is Up.”
Modified Version of a Speech to Santa Cruz Community and City Council by Robert Norse 2-11-03

As Bush pushes preemptive War of Aggression-for-Oil-and-Power abroad and Ashcroft pushes his preemptive War on the Constitution at home, here in Santa Cruz, it’s the same
smoke and mirrors, the same “trust the police and the city manager” mentality tricked up in Progressive packaging. All smiles and decorum and, of course, a full budget for our Police Department--while Commissions like the CPVAW [Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women] and the CPRB [Citizens Police Review Board] are gutted.

Commissions are told to adopt generic rules--cooked up in closed City Council offices without public hearings or public input. Commissions, whose recommendations displease the Council are ignored--like the Downtown Commission, trying to restore street music--or simply
dismantled--like the Citizens Police Review Board--which raised the issue of selective enforcement and police harassment downtown that Council has so vigorously ignored.

On the streets yesterday five cops spent half an hour harassing three peaceful sparechangers. Their crime? One came up to talk to another who was sparechanging, thus
supposedly violating the “sparechanging in a group of two” rule. Two women were, I’m told, given $162 tickets; a third young man was handcuffed and hauled away for “insufficient ID”.

John Goldern, a homeless man who lives in his vehicle, was arrested and his vehicle confiscated. Goldern has been barred from contacting any employee of the City directly--in the most astonishing display of police overkill I’ve seen recently--for the crime of making
persistent public records act requests.

In New York City activists are rushing to court to stop police from blocking a peace march past UN headquarters this Saturday. But this is Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz: where political tabling will become technically illegal on 80% of Pacific Avenue--and on nearly 100% of most other narrower sidewalks next week under the new and improved Downtown Ordinances.

In Santa Cruz, it will be illegal to table for Peace in Iraq anywhere near the Bookshop Santa Cruz, New Leaf Market, or numerous other traditional spots for tabling. Next week, anyone at a political table, will have to be 10’ from a crosswalk, 10’ from a kiosk, 10’ from a
drinking fountain, 10’ from a phone, 10’ from a bench, and 10’ from a building.

Even in the small crowded “legal” areas remaining, folks at tables will have to “move along” every hour at least 100’ (if they can find another spot) and not return for 24 hours on pain of $162 fine (second offense: up to a year in jail and $1000 fine). Peace activists at “Merry Mondays”--where Food Not Bombs feeds at 4 p.m. in front of O’Neill’s at Cooper and Pacific--will now face $162 tickets if they don’t move-along.

Perhaps some of you will join us next Monday to help remind Vice-Mayor Kennedy that it’s important to protect our rights right here in Santa Cruz. At a recent Save-Our- Schools rally, I heard him denouncing Bush for his
War Against Iraq, Davis for his War on the Poor, and Ashcroft for his War on Civil Liberties. [Merry Mondays has been temporarily suspended; call 423-HUFF for more info]

Will this great civil libertarian--who gave us the “Move Along Tablers” law--be at Becky Johnson’s chalkcrime trial [Friday March 14th 10 AM Dept. 1] for chalking peace and justice statements on the sidewalk or along the roadside in erasable chalk speaking in her
defense? I think that’s about as likely as Mayor Reilly abandoning the closed-door Ad Hoc meetings that are allowing the Police Chief, City Manager, and conservative staff to impose their own agendas.

Mayor Reilly and her Council rushed through these laws in December and January, allowing absolutely no time for organization to speak against them and a breathless two
minutes for everyone else. The time allowed in Past Public Hearings considering legal changes was 5 minutes per organization. To her credit, Mayor Reilly will later be allowing me 5 minutes as representative of Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom to speak against her dismemberment of the Citizens Police Review Board when it comes up at 8 or 8:30 p.m.

But how many people know Reilly was returning to the traditional time rules and that their organizations could now speak for the time allowd them in the past? She has not allowed it--ever--since she became Mayor. How many organizations that might have spoken aren’t here tonight because they felt that again, like on December 10th, January 14th, January 21st, and January 27th--they would be given NO time. Or enough time to begin to speak and
get out a point or two before they were hustled away under threat of arrest from Sgt. Loran Baker, the armed policeman who stalks the chamber "keeping order".

Have you ever been arrested by Sgt. Baker? It’s happened to me three times in the last year and a half. No charges were ever filed. It’s not pleasant. I was led away in handcuffs on all three occasions, for simply exercising basic constitutional rights, peacefully. In public spaces. In Santa Cruz .

Once I was petitioning at the Farmer’s Market to save street music. A second time I was mocking this City Council’s suppression of speakers by raising my hand like
this in a “stop acting like a pack of fascists” gesture. The third time was last January when I was tabling in front of New Leaf Market stop cops and merchants from harassing poor and young people. On all these occasions, Sgt. Baker was there, escalating a complaint into an arrest, and punishing me for bringing the matter to public attention. But he couldn’t have done it without the tacit support and backing of this City Council, the City Attorney, and,
of course, City Police Chief Steve Belcher.

What can we do to stop this climate of fear? Most everyone listening knows how powerless you can feel as bullies in political power sling their weight and their weapons around. But many also know that there is power in numbers, there is power in truth, and there is power in simply refusing to be silent when politicians and police make bad choices. When you hear the “Move Along, Buddy” demand, it may be time to pull out a book, have a seat, and
tell the Host, Security Guard, CSO, or police officer: “No, my hour isn’t up. My time is now.”


[3 minutes of this speech was given during the Oral Communications period of City Council, which meets regularly each 2nd and 4th Tuesday. The O.C. period is usually at 7 p.m. You are customarily allowed three minutes, but if you spoke two weeks before, you go to the end of the line. You can also "meet" with Mayor Reilly for a fifteen minute discussion privately if you call her at 420-5020 during business hours or leave her a message at 420-5022 anytime. Don't expect much, but this is the "process" she allows.]

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN CHALLENGING THE MOVE-ALONG LAW, CONTACT HUFF [Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom] AT 423-HUFF (4833) .
 
 


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