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Busting Political Tables on Pacific Avenue--Again

A sunny Sunday had half a dozen SCPD officers hauling away political tables and activists at the behest of the Pacific Trading Company.
Two Refuse To Be “Moved Along�
Activists Argue & Hartogh Jailed, Tables Seized

July 7, 2003

SANTA CRUZ, CA -- A squad of Police came twice to the sidewalk in front of the Pacific Trading Company Sunday afternoon. Their mission: to arrest political tablers and confiscate political tables, signs, and literature. Why? Because the tablers had been there more than an hour with a "non-commercial display".

City Municipal Code 5.43.020(2) provides for $162 fines for the first offense and up to a year in jail and $1000 fines for each subsequent failure to “Move-Along� as part of the new harsh Downtown Ordinances.

The code defines such a display as "a table, rack, cloth, stand, or any structure or object used or capable of being used for displaying tangible things, together with any associated seating facilities" for the purpose of "any political, civic, religious, or other public service or charitable activity, including speech, or the distribution of literature...�

Two activist groups, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom [HUFF ] and the Revoluntary Rosa Luzemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party [RRLC-PFP], had literature and signs on their table urging the public to boycott the Pacific Trading Company and Jackson’s Shoes. Both businesses were instrumental last year in pressing for severe restrictions on street performers, those sitting on the sidewalk, and peaceful sparechangers at City Council as well as the controversial "Move Along" law itself.

The flyers also criticized PTC owners Clark and Carolyn Heinrich for their role in persuading the City to spend more than $6600 without public debate to fence off 20 seating spaces on the nearby Walnut and Pacivic planter structure to drive away “undesirables�.

HUFF described these new laws as anti-homeless in that they reduced public spaces particular important to poor people, and gave police greater selective enforcement powers to target those they or merchant complainants wanted to cite.

Steve Argue, the first man arrested on Sunday, was stopped from giving out literature describing his prevous arrest for tabling at the same spot two weeks before on June 23rd. Sgt. Loran Baker and a squad of 4 officers arrested, handcuffed, and booked Argue into County Jail around 3:30 PM when he declined to take down the table and “Move Along�.

Mr. Twister, a clown using a non-commercial display device 10’ away as part of his balloon-figures-for-kids act, stood 10' away from Argue's tabling spot for three hours through the afternoon. Police ignored Twister. Mr. Twister explained that he “had the permission� of the Pacific Trading Company to violate the ordinance, which seemed to satisfy Sgt. Baker.

"I spent 13 years in the Marines fighting for freedom; it's two days after the fourth of July; and the only free speech is for clowns," said Dennis, a traveller with a huge backpack from South Carolina. Baker did not clarify how permission from a private business could overrule a city municipal code applicable to all non-commercial displays.

Stating that the Move-Along law was “a violation of our rights of free speech and of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution�, Argue declined to sign the ticket. He asked first to be taken to a magistrate to determine if there were probable cause for the arrest. Baker told him he’d have to wait in jail until Monday, though the California Penal Code requires a magistrate’s clerk to be available in such cases.

Later, Argue reported, police chose to charge him with infraction MC 5.43.020 (Not “Moving Along�) along with “obstructing an officer� (853.6 PC) for not signing the “Move Along� citation. Activists suggested the misdemeanor “failure to sign� charge was both illegitimate and bad faith. before taking Argue before either a magistrate or a magistrate’s clerk as he requested was an apparent violation of PC 849a.

“Failing to move your political table twice should be charged as an automatic misdemeanor,� said activist Becky Johnson, "But instead they charged him with two infractions. Maybe they don't want to take this stuff before a jury."

At 5:05 p.m. Matthew Hartogh, refused to move a second smaller table he had set up where
Argue's table had been His sign, confiscated by police, read "Boycott the Pacific Trading Company for Attacking Public Assembly." Hartogh is a lymphoma cancer patient and a Phi Beta Kappa UCSC graduate in Economics as well as a local resident.

He told police he would sign nothing,answer no questions, and lay down in a passive position. Six officers carried him to a squad car and shoved him in the back seat. "You're breaking my wrist," he was heard to scream as the door closed.

Hartogh and Argue were released on their own recognizance some hours later. Argue goes to arraignment at 8:15 a.m. on July 29th in Superior Court at 701 Ocean St. Hartogh was charged with “not moving along�, “lying down on the sidewalk�, and “obstructing an officer� (either not signing the ticket, going limp, or both). He appears for arraignment in Superior Court 8:15 a.m. on July 30th.

On Monday, June 30th, Sgt. Baker closed down a video showing of “The Fight for the Costa Brava Planter". which documented half a dozen of incidences of Police Harassment with the owners of the Pacific Trading Company looking on. Baker cited activists Robert Norse and Jim Ross for “audio amplification without a permit�--the first time such a charge has been used against a video showing on the sidewalk.

Baker also cited a Hispanic man for “sitting on the planter railing� after that man had helped carry video equipment for the showing. During the arrest of Mr.Hartogh, Baker pointedly ignored several well-dressed women sitting on the planter railing in the same spot.

Norse also reports he received two tickets from 2 of the officers surveilling the HUFF table throughout the afternoon of June 24th, one for “meter expired� from a CSO who normally does not issue parking tickets, and another from the CSO's partner for “jaywalking� on Pacific Avenue--an almost unheard of offense. Court dates have not yet been set.

Those who want to address City Council about police behavior downtown under the Downtown Ordinances will have an opportunity Tuesday July 8th at 1:30 PM when Item #10 on the consent agenda “Exemption Zones� is discussed.

Peace-and-justice activist Joe Williams has charged that City Council has ignored or violated a series of promises to reexamine the Downtown Ordinances and provide clarifying language and to act as mediators in disputes. Councilmembers also repeatedly claimed that their January "Move Along" law would not affect political tablers.

HUFF activists will continue their public information campaign and boycott throughout the week. They will be offering free vegan food for the hungry on Thursday July 10th at NOON on the Pacific Avenue Sidewalk at Walnut Ave. in front of the Pacific Trading Company.

OTHER COSTLY COURTDATES FOR CRIMINAL MISBEHAVIOR DOWNTOWN:
Bubble performer Tom Noddy, arrested Thursday June 26th half a block away from the "Move Along" arrests for “juggling� in violation of the “No Balls Downtown� provision of the Downtown Ordinances, after being held for 13 hours in jail, goes to court July 17th at 8:30 AM.
Robert Norse, cited February 15th for “jaywalking� after the 5000-strong Peace March, goes to court trial 10 AM on August 22nd. Norse, cited in April for chalking “No War� on the street along Pacific Avenue in erasable chalk, goes to court August 18 8:30 AM.

HASSLED BY POLICE? PASS ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, COURT DATE, ETC. WITNESS A HASSLE? LET US KNOW ABOUT IT HERE.

VOLUNTEER TO TABLE DOWNTOWN TO RESTORE CIVIL LIBERTIES AND BOYCOTT BIGOTED MERCHANTS.

CONTACT 831-423-4833 FOR MORE INFO.

CALL CITY COUNCIL AT 420-5020 TO DEMAND A DOWNTOWN PLAZA, RESTORATION OF THE VOLUNTARY STREET PERFORMERS GUIDELINES, ABOLITION OF THE SLEEPING BAN, AND AN END TO THE DEADLY DOWNTOWN ORDINANCES.
 
 


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Comments

Re: Busting Political Tables on Pacific Avenue--Again

Robert what are you accomplishing? You succeed in agitating the city council and the cops but there is no movement to back it up.

People respond to authoritative reason and that is missing here.
 

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