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International Bubble Performer Arrested In Santa Cruz for Juggling

Yesterday around 4 PM, Santa Cruz's Tom Noddy was reportedly arrested, cuffed, jailed--and his car towed--for juggling lemons downtown--in violation of the City's Downtown Ordinance against footballs, hackeysacks, baseballs, beach balls, Frisbees, bubbleblow, and juggling.
Internationally famous bubble performer, long-time local Santa Cruz resident, and co-writer of Santa Cruz's unique Street Performers Guidelines, Tom Noddy was taken by police to jail yesterday. I heard of the arrest from his partner Kate, reached by phone at their home in downtown Santa Cruz when I tried to interview him for my radio show last night at 7:15 p.m.

Kate reported he had been arrested around 4 p.m., handcuffed, his car towed, and was being held in jail. Holding a person in jail is unusual for a minor infraction. Police usually give an individual is usually given an opportunity to sign a citation on the spot or is released at the jail prior to booking. With the recent crackdown on hippies, youth, homeless, and street performers downtown--including a new "Banning" proposal by the District Attorney-- pre-trial treatment has worsened.

At 2 PM Noddy set up a small display device at a legal distance in front of the Downtown Information Center (the Hosts Headquarters).

Watching were two print reporters (Dan White of the Sentinel and Sarah Phelan of the Metro Santa Cruz), a tv crew, a radio reporter (me for Free Radio Santa Cruz), and several sympathetic street performers (Angela and Justin), Noddy juggled lemons, rubber balls, and light-weight bowling pins. As an encore he also juggled crumpled up copies of the municipal code law itself.

A police officer passing by refused to stop and answer the repeated question "is juggling legal?" Hosts walking by repeated the two words "no comment". One host added that since Noddy was a "bubble street performer", the law [see below] made the situation ambiguous.

The day before, Hosts in that center had rudely refused to answer his question "is juggling legal in Santa Cruz?" He was also told by a police officer to "stop harassing them" in response to what he described as a mild inquiry.

Noddy had recently brought to the attention of City Councilmembers, the City Manager's office, and the City Attorney that during the debate on this law before City Council, then-Mayor Krohn had specifically asked the City Attorney if the wording of the law [see below] made juggling illegal and the City Attorney publicly said "no".

In this situation, Noddy suggested, the clear intent of the Council was not to make juggling illegal, and so it wasn't. Mayor Emily Reilly reportedly expressed great relief on hearing this. But the evening before the arrest, Assistant City Manager Martin Bernal informed Noddy by phone that juggling was illegal. In response, Noddy decided to clarify what the situation was by doing some public juggling.

Attorney Kate Wells drove by to witness Noddy's curbside juggling performance near the Del Mar Theater (which is next door to the Hosts HQ). She advised him that if the wording of the law was clear, the courts would not necessarily delve into the "intent" of the legislators.

Noddy is a strong advocate of restoring the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines--eliminated by the Downtown Ordinances last summer.

No mention of the Noddy arrest appears in the on-line version of this morning's Sentinel. Reporter Dan White was captured on audio tape at Noddy's juggling display as loudly rejecting the idea that the story would be spun or downplayed, when I suggested that would be the case in this morning's paper.

City Municipal Code 9.50.020d reads "No person, after having been notified by a law enforcement officer that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, shall: In the C-C Community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B, commercial beach, CBD central business, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, intentionally throw, discharge, launch, or spill any solid object (including but not limited to footballs, hackeysacks, baseballs, beach balls, Frisbees, or other similar devices) or liquid substance (with the exception of bubble street performers who otherwise comply with all applicable statutes & ordinances) or otherwise cause any object or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled or to become airborne.

According to his partner, Noddy was still in jail as of 9 PM last night, awaiting release on his own recognizance

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Re: International Bubble Performer Arrested In Santa Cruz for Juggling

This is what has become of the center of our town! Man arrested for juggling three lemons! Our "liberal, progressive" city council has outlawed bubble-blowing, frisbee toss, hacky-sacking, and hopscotch. Music and political tables are limited to 1 hour per day (in one location) and the locations available must be 10 feet from a building, crosswalk, intersection, kiosk, fence, telephone, drinking fountain, and 50 feet from an ATM! Police are arresting people for feeding the birds and for failing to "move-along." Now, the DA is putting together a list and photo album of "chronic offenders" who will be banished entirely on threat of arrest from Pacific Ave. Our wonderful town has been turned into a police state run by the merchants. The first amendment is moribund. Call Mayor Reilly at 420-5020 and voice your concern!

juggle rotten eggs

maybe yall should start juggling noxious objects...maybe that might dissuade the porcine protecters from detaining yall...aside from that, dont pretend that this shit is only happening in SC...asheville, NC banned panhandlers and street musicians to reduce the homeless pop., thanks to downtown business pressure...dont forget to bring a ruckus

Re: International Bubble Performer Arrested In Santa Cruz for Juggling

are POI still legal? these are not thrown, discharged, launched or spilled

Re: International Bubble Performer Arrested In Santa Cruz for Juggling

This is one merchant that will not be soliciting business from a downtown Santa Cruz location. The mailing address for is located in Soquel, thanks to the outrageous behaviour of the Santa Cruz Police dept, who among other things gave a ticket for excessive noise for people playing a television with a video of a prior offense committed by the same police dept. Note that TV's and simillar devices are exempt from the noise ordinance, but the ticket was issued anyway. The 1 hour move-a-long law must also be shown to be unconstitutional. This proprietor will not support the Santa Cruz Police dept by paying business license fees in the city of Santa Cruz.

Re: International Bubble Performer Arrested In Santa Cruz for Juggling

A slight correction to the earlier comment. It turns out that Robert Norse and Jim Ross were given citations for amplified sound without a permit. It seems that TV's are exempt from this ordinance too, provided they are played at conversational volume. A court appearance is required to determine the final outcome of this dispute. But the chilling effect on free speech is the same: TV's playing downtown risk citation and/or confiscation, for the first time in over a year since the concept was introduced on First Night 2001 (Dec 31, 2001) by the Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Political Prisoners, playing the Arnold Beverly confession tape over and over to passers by. For more info on Arnold Beverly and Mumia check out


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