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Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

I was arrested today (June 23) for distributing literature on Pacific Avenue.
Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

By STEVE ARGUE
I was arrested today (June 23) for distributing literature on Pacific Avenue. The flyer I was distributing can be read on the other side of these notes.

The law I was arrested under is a new law passed by the supposedly “progressive� Santa Cruz City Council that makes it illegal to keep a political table up for more than an hour without moving along. It is a law that is only selectively enforced against a few activists that are particularly disliked by the Santa Cruz City Council and Santa Cruz Police. To my knowledge I am the first to be cited or arrested under the law.

While being filmed by fellow activists, I refused to move the political table and refused to sign a ticket when asked to do so. I instead cited the right to free speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution and pointed out that the Santa Cruz City Council and the arresting officer, Officer number 158, were actually the ones in violation of the law.

As a large supportive crowd gathered I told the many cops who were also gathering that I would not stop distributing literature and that I would not take the table down. I pointed out that for that to happen the police would have to arrest me and take the table down themselves.

After officers waited for Sgt. Butchy Baker to arrive, the police then arrested me and took the table and flyers into evidence. Sgt. Baker is a cop that is assigned to deal with political cases. It was Sgt. Baker who arrested me on Labor Day last year for J-walking. That arrest prevented me from making it to a Labor Day picnic where I was scheduled to promote my campaign to be elected to City Council. Baker was also accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by 9 different women that he held in custody a few years back. Soon after these accusations had blown up and had been absolved by the police department Baker was named officer of the year and he was promoted.

The police, knowing that I would use this arrest as a political issue to promote free speech rights, did everything by the books. This contrasted sharply from my arrest for selling newspapers in 1998. During that arrest, and while I was being held in custody, I was brutalized by the police and deputies and held for four days. That arrest, another violation of the First Amendment to the constitution, backfired for the police with the publicity the case received and the outrage it provoked. After that arrest the Santa Cruz Police became very timid about violating freedom of press, although they did issue a couple citations again last year.

In addition to the publicity my 1998 arrest received, I also won a ruling in the court of Federal District Judge Ware stating that not only do the Santa Cruz Police violate constitutional rights, but the way city lawyers were trying to defend the police proves that it is city policy to violate those rights.

Today, the police brought me in front of Judge Danner soon after I was arrested. Danner was the judge who as DA helped cover up the Santa Cruz Police murder of homeless activist “Happy� John Dine. He did this by closing the case twelve hours after the murder and by making false statements to the press about how John had pointed a toy gun at the officers while he was in a combat stance. All of the eyewitnesses present refuted this false statement. Danner later became a judge as a political appointee of Governor Wilson.

In front of Judge Danner and in handcuffs I stated “I would like to make a motion to have these charges thrown out on the grounds the city ordinance I have been arrested under is a violation of the First Amendment Constitutional right to free speech.� Judge Danner denied my motion. I then plead not guilty. He then ordered me released under an order to return for a future court date that I am to set up before July 23rd (under threat of warrant).

In the traditions of the IWW who successfully defended free speech rights at the turn of the last century I vow to continue violating this city law until free speech rights are restored in Santa Cruz and I urge others in Santa Cruz to join me.

People may subscribe to Liberation News on the internet for free by sending email to: liberation_news-subscribe (at) lists.riseup.net

Donations can be sent to Steve Argue at 1135 N. Branciforte, Santa Cruz CA 95062.

I can be reached at steveargue2 (at) yahoo.com.


Here is the text of the flyer I was distributing before my arrest:

Stop The Abuses Of The Homeless!
Stop The Abuses Of The Working Class!

By STEVE ARGUE for Liberation News, the mouthpiece of the Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party.

We are taught to think of the homeless as a separate class. The stereotype is that they are a permanent under class that is addicted to drugs and constantly asking for spare change, or they are the drunks, or the mentally ill. Even the well-paid directors of the Homeless Garden Project have promoted these damaging stereotypes in their statements to the press.

Yet the homeless, for the most part, are not a permanent under class. Studies have found that the average-stay on the streets for a houseless person is four months, that only a minority of the homeless are drug or alcohol addicted, and that only a minority are mentally ill. Most of the homeless do not fit the stereotypes and they are not necessary recognizable either. Often they are temporarily in their position, put there by the low wages paid by employers and the high rent demanded by landlords. Many of the homeless are also employed, and most are only temporarily unemployed.

In fact the only things that most homeless people in America share in common are no regular roofs over their heads, constant harassment from the police, day-to-day stress about immediate survival issues and the future, and disdain directed at them from many ordinary people.

The problem of homelessness will only increase as the capitalist economy worsens and working class people are thrown out of work, as social programs are cut and more money is put towards police repression, and as U.S. soldiers come home disabled mentally and physically from being an occupation army in lands where they are not wanted.

Yet the increased numbers of homeless will not necessarily mean more people fighting back for the rights of those without homes. The homeless as a whole are a pretty powerless group. For the poor to have real strength in this society requires the ability to shut capitalist profits down through the collective action of strikes by the working class.

Yet today we have union leaders in almost every union that are afraid to fight for their own membership let alone poor people outside their unions. Instead of pursuing real fight back policies they betray the working class by endorsing anti-homeless and anti-union Democrats and others in the elections.

Here in Santa Cruz the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) leadership endorsed City Council candidate Tim Fitzmaurice in the last election. Yet Tim Fitzmaurice before this latest election had voted for the law that made it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night and has supported other police abuses against the homeless and anti-war protesters. Now instead of cutting the too fat police budget, Tim Fitzmaurice and the rest of the anti-working class lot on the Santa Cruz City Council, along with their friends on the Board of Supervisors, are cutting needed social programs and SEIU jobs.

Homeless issues are working class issues. Yet our union leaders tend to ignore these issues, just as they tend to be useless in organizing any real fight back against the bosses. Unlike the revolutionary leadership of the unions in the 1930s, today’s union leaderships do not fight for the rights and social programs of the unemployed. In doing so back in the 30s those revolutionary union leaders strengthened solidarity amongst the working class and our strength to fight the bosses. In doing so they made many real gains for the working class and poor.

The Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club stands on the traditions of the militant trade union movement of the 1930s. We call for worker’s to take control of our unions to end the betrayals of our leaderships. We call for the strength of the unions to be mobilized to shut down work when necessary. We call on union dues not to be wasted on enemy politicians. And we call for an end to union support to anti-worker and anti-homeless politicians and instead call for support to the candidacies of those who call for real change locally like Steve Argue and Thomas Leavitt.

People may subscribe to Liberation News on the internet for free by sending email to: liberation_news-subscribe (at) lists.riseup.net


Donations can be sent to Steve Argue at 1135 N. Branciforte, Santa Cruz CA 95062
 
 


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Comments

Re: Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

Steve,

Using words such as "the homeless," "the poor," "the blind," and etc. tends to verbally dehumanize and classify. It is best to say... "homeless people," "poor people," and so on. A small but not insignificant change.......
 

Re: Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

I totally support Steve Argue's opposition to the "Move-along" Law. The law violates our freedom to travel (which implies the right to remain in one place). It limits free speech to one hour out of 24 --- a completely unreasonable time, place, and manner restriction--- and not justified by any compelling government interest. The law violates the rights of the people to peacably assemble, and the right of the people to redress government interests. I would encourage others to come to Pacific and Walnut Ave. and the recently fenced off Costa Brava Planter to challenge the "Move-along" Law. possible in the manner Steve did.
 

Expanded Street Spirit Story on Argue Arrest & Related Outrages

Police not only stole Argue's table and his right to petition, they oppressively surveilled all afternoon in close association with the Pacific Trading Company. They then ticketed another activist selectively for first a parking meter violation, then "jaywalking" on Pacific Avenue.
Not One Inch ! Activist Arrested for Not “Moving Along�

Rough Draft of a Story for Street Spirit newspaper by Becky Johnson and Robert Norse

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- The Costa Brava Planter on Walnut is a different place than it used to be. The lush vegetation inside it has been hacked back. The decorative railing, which once provided sitting space for up to 30 people, has been moved 5 inches to the outward edge of the planter so that no one, ever, can sit on its cool, concrete lip and sip coffee in the filtered light sifting through the oak trees planted there. On June 11th, contractors arrived, having been paid $6600 out of the Police Dept. budget, to move the railing and fence out the public in order to stop people from gathering there. Only the streetside face of the planter, which directly abuts
the street, retains the lip on which people can sit. “The City wants twice-a-year seating space for its Thanksgiving and Xmas parades,� suggested one old-timer. [See “Santa Cruz Concocts New Homeless-Removal Plan� Street Spirit June 2003] “That railing is a monument to bigotry,� said Steve Elliott, who has been homeless almost four years now.

But along the semi-circular circumference bordering the sidewalk, which used to allow for 20-30 people to sit, is a railing on which it
is officially illegal to sit. Some still do, risking warnings from the Downtown Hosts and citations from the City police who patrol the
mall in pairs, then cluster in packs while demanding IDs, making warrant checks, and issuing $162 tickets. “If your feet touch the ground, it’s not illegal sitting,� explained CSO Pawlak.

On June 23rd, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF) set up a card table with a petition titled “Free Pacific Avenue�, calling for the restoral of the public seating area at the planter. Also included on the table were copies of "The Deadly Downtown Ordinances," a series of laws passed by the City Council in July of 2002, followed by the "Move-along" law in January of 2003. These laws, which outlaw using frisbees, balls of any kind, any object which may become airborne, bubble-blowing, hacky-sacks, asking for anything of value after dark with or without a sign, sitting on the sidewalk within 14 feet of a building. An additional "move-along" law requires anyone with a "non-commercial display device" to move 100 feet every hour--and not set up another device within 100 feet for 24 hours or face a $162 fine.

The HUFF table, according to City Attorney John Barisone, is a non-commercial display device. A professional petition gatherer, a homeless man with a “spare pennies?� sign, street musicians with open guitar cases, and the round-the-clock Peace Vigil of March have all been directed to “Move Along� under threat of ticket, arrest, and jail.

In January, Vice-Mayor Scott Kennedy said, before he voted for the Move-Along Law, "...we understand we're lifting any direction from the Council towards strict enforcement of these ordinances," Downtown Ordinance supporter Councilmember Mike Rotkin said "The police are not going to get instructions to go down with a stopwatch and a tape measure and bust everybody that's 10 feet (away from a building, crosswalk, bench, etc), or as soon as somebody shows up, whoop, start the stopwatch. ... As long as they're
not causing problems, the police aren't going to be down there trying to arrest people who are not making anybody unhappy. In fact, there's not that many police officers down there any more. ....the police are not going to rush over and tell you you only have an hour.�

Rotkin couldn't have described it better. Officer Wendy Bynes has been walking up and down Pacific Ave. telling beggars, musicians, and political tablers just exactly how many minutes of free speech they have left, some almost as soon as they have sat down. On June 23 and June 24 on-the-scene officers stood in groups near Jackson's Shoes surveilling the HUFF table continuously throughout the afternoon.

Police left and entered the Pacific Trading Company so frequently tablers took to calling it the new Pacific Avenue Police Substation. CSO Pawlak and beat officer Phelps giving periodic warnings about the number of minutes left.

"You're violating my civil rights right now by talking to me," declared Steve Argue when Officer Phelps demanded his attention minutes after the HUFF table had gone up on Pacific Ave., to tell him he had to be gone within an hour. When Phelps returned an hour later, Argue declared that the table would not be moved "one inch". Phelps, waited for Sgt. Baker to arrive, and then handcuffed and arrested him assisted by a swarm of cops with four police cars double-parked while a crowd of onlookers watched in amazement.
As Sgt. Butchie Baker collapsed the political table, Candy Jackson from Jackson's Shoes, merchants from Marini's Candy, Dell Williams Jewelers and the Pacific Trading Company applauded and cheered. Other members of the public were appalled.

Jackson’s Shoes adjoins the Pacific Trading Company [PTC] --the two stores have taken the lead in calling for laws giving the police greater powers to selectively harass performers, activists, homeless people, youth, and poor folk downtown.

HUFF has called for a boycott of PTC and set up their table there. They explained to the police that it would be pointless to set up a table for gathering petitions at a spot 100’ away, as provided by the law, when the object of their concern is the PTC and the planter just outside where seating has been eliminated. PTC owner Carol Heinreich and her staff have issued a voluminous number of life-style complaints over the kind of people who were outside her store.

She was the only person who officially requested the railing be moved to remove the seating area. Her husband, also involved in running the business, insisted it was a city manager decision
but they supported it because of drug abuse, fights, harassment of their employees, and a litany of other concerns. "Go blame City Council, not us, " said the Heinrich's, disclaiming responsibility.

HUFF had gathered the signatures of 225 people and sent them to the City Council, while numerous people placed phone calls to Mayor Emily Reilly and members of the City Council asking them to leave the planter alone saving the seating area or at least scheduling it as an item on the council's agenda so the public could comment on it. But no member of the council intervened.
On the evening of June 25th, Reilly in an unusual move, placed herself at the head of the Oral Communications line “as a private citizen� and called on the community to patronize the PTC.

Reilly--a bakery owner as well as an anti-homeless politician--described how she herself had been the target of a protest (a sign that read “Emily Reilly’s Votes Hurt the Poor� in response to her key support of “no parking at night� signs criminalizing homeless vehicles). She then interrupted or cut off three HUFF speakers as they spoke during their turn at the microphone. Vice-Mayor Kennedy threatened peace-and-justice activist Steve Argue with exclusion from the chambers for mentioning another Councilmember’s name in a critical context.

"The merchants think they own the sidewalks in front of their stores!" HUFF activist Robert Norse announced to those who gathered nearby. Musician Mike True, suing the City and Sgt. Baker for arresting him a year before a block away for offering his music in CD form for sale. He played his guitar and daringly placed CD's of his work in his guitar case. Sgt. Baker arrested and handcuffed him for "displaying merchandise" a year. True’s lawsuit against Baker and the city is in federal court. Police and the Downtown Hosts “their eyes and ears� harass musicians displaying their work even if no price tags are displayed and no sale is made.

Despite the heavy police presence, several people chalked slogans on the sidewalk in front of the Pacific Trading Company. This infuriated Parks and Rec worker, Mia Duquet, who marched into the Pacific Trading Company to use their phone to call the police.

As she talked on the phone, One protester wrote "Protect the 1st Amendment" right in front of her. Others chalked as well. They wrote
"Don't Clothe yourself in Bigotry!" "Stop the War on the Poor" and "Butchie Baker has a nice ass". HUFFsters bounced bright, fluorescent green tennis balls on the sidewalk, and even tossed a frisbee around a few times. One passerby took the three tennis balls and juggled them adeptly briefly entertaining the small crowd. All of these activities are illegal under the new, repressive ordinances passed by the Reilly council.

After Steve Argue was hauled off in chains and his table confiscated as “evidence�, Robert Norse brought an old-fashioned ironing board out of his sticker-covered car nearby, and Gabe set it up. Within seconds, Officer Phelps informed Gabe he had one hour before he must "move-along." Five minutes later, Coyote Industrial arrived with noisy steam cleaning equipment. "You'll have to
move that stuff or it will get wet," he informed the HUFF tabler. He quickly sprayed the sidewalk removing the chalk but leaving dozens of ugly black marks where gum was stuck to the sidewalk despite the ability of his steam-cleaning equipment to remove it.

Someone asked what his service cost. "I'm charging $150 for this," he responded gleefully. "Keep it up! Call me anytime." Not bad for 8 minutes work. The author was given an additional "restitution fee" of $100 as “clean-up costs� for drawing a peace symbol on the sidewalk in a case still on appeal, in addition to more than 20 hours of "community service" work.

Before Gabe's hour was up, he left, and the HUFFsters took the table down. Five minutes later, for HUFFer Coral Brune set the same
device up again, effectively re-starting the clock. The police gathered like the crows in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". Lee
Sepulveda, a full lieutenant--an unusual sight on the mall--arrived and silently staked out the scene from across the street for over a
half hour. Another police officer openly videotaped the scene. A second camera, positioned in a double-parked police car shot video
from a second angle, all aimed at this ironing board on the sidewalk and the sign "Downtown For All" taped to it. Meanwhile Norse loudly announced that police were continuously, openly, and massively surveilling one lonely political table.

Suddenly, police cars converged on the scene, temporarily completely blocking all traffic on Pacific Ave. 7 uniformed SCPD officers swooped down on the table and confronted Norse. An 8th officer arrived shortly after on a motorcycle. "Your table has been here for
more than an hour and you are now in violation of the law." "I am not in charge of the table," Norse told them. "Who is?" they asked.

"I am," said Coral Brune who had not yet been given a warning as required by law. "This table is in violation, " announced Lt. Sepulveda. "Not according to my reading of the law, " Norse responded. He began to read the text of the law and pointed out that there was no prohibition on a second person setting up the same display device in a location in which another person had been ordered to "move along."

With great regret, Sepulveda realized that no one was violating the law as written (unless you count the police violating everyone's first amendment rights) Yet, he insisted the table be taken down, confiscated and a citation would be issued. The HUFFers folded up the ironing board and took it down. Norse suggested he might set the same table up in the same location in five minutes. Upon hearing this, Sepulveda ordered three officers to stand nearby and watch and make sure that the ironing board was not set up again.

“If I see that sign up again at a table, I’ll have you cited,� Sepulveda said to Norse. Some minutes later with Sgt. Baker and two other
officers watching, Norse lifted the sign, and resumed picketing the PTC, urging the community to “boycott bigotry� by demanding the business restore the seating it had stolen. The next day Norse paid for his 1st Amendment foolishness. when CSO Pawlak gave his distinctive car an unusual parking ticket. When Norse crossed Pacific Avenue to loudly demand what a CSO was doing issuing a parking ticket (customarily done by “meter maids�)--and only against his car, his partner Officer Phelps ticketed Norse for jaywalking.

“Show me some ID,� demanded Phelps. “What’s your driver’s license number?� “More harassment,� commented Norse.
 

Text of the Move-Along Law

Verbatim text of the Move-Along Law
5.43.020 (Non-Commercial Use of City Streets and Sidewalks for Sales and Solicitation)

(2) No person shall allow a display device to remain in the same location on the sidewalk for a period of time exceeding one hour. After one
hour the person who placed the display device on the sidewalk shall not place a display device on the sidewalk within 100 feet of the original display device location. After one hour the person who placed the display device shall not place a display device in the original display device location, or within 100 feet of the original display device location, for twenty-four hours. (3) No person shall be cited under
this section unless he or she has first been notified by a public officer or Downtown Host that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, and thereafter continues the violation.
 

Re: Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

Fuck the police Steve!
 

Re: Steve Argue Arrested By The Santa Cruz Police For Literature Table!

YOU PEOPLE HAVE WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS!
 

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