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Argentinean Newspaper Interview On Democratic Rights In Santa Cruz

Steve Argue Interviewed in The Argentinean Newspaper Prensa Obrera Regarding His Arrests In Santa Cruz For Political Tabling.
The charges in my arrests for political tabling in Santa Cruz have now been raised to two misdemeanors carrying a possible two years in
prison and $2,000 dollar fine. ---Steve Argue

In This Posting:

1. Steve Argue Interviewed in The Argentinean Newspaper Prensa Obrera Regarding His Arrests In Santa Cruz For Political Tabling.

2. Dweezle is a Nazi Weasel and supportive letters

Steve Argue Interviewed in The Argentinean Newspaper Prensa Obrera Regarding His Arrests In Santa Cruz For Political Tabling:

Vicente Balvanera: Have democratic rights actually deteriorated since 9/11?

Steve Argue: Yes, and this has taken many forms. Especially targeted have been Arab immigrants for long detentions without cause, deportations, and jailing for political opinions. These racist acts by the U.S. government coincide with the kinds of racist
justifications U.S. imperialism has always used to justify its wars abroad. The war on Iraq is no different, with an Arab country targeted for an act they had nothing to do with.

Of course we all know the war on Iraq isn't about September 11, but is instead about taking direct U.S. corporate control of the oil and
also about the profits being made by the capitalists off of the arms industries. Likewise the racism against Arabs at home is not in reality targeted against terrorism, but instead is targeted against the rights of the entire working class as the ruling class fears our rights more and more in the face of a failing capitalist economy.

September 11 was the excuse, but not the reason, for the Democrats and Republicans taking away many basic democratic rights by passing
the Patriot Acts. These acts have formally abolished many rights that had been won through 200 years of working class struggle, although those formal changes are today primarily used against Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians (citizens and non-citizens) living in the United States.

These acts give the US government the legal authority to jail Americans without charges, deny us the right to an attorney, deny us
the right to confront witnesses against us, denies us the right to attorney client confidentiality in communications, gives the
government the legal ability to hold us indefinitely without trial, to hold us in secret, to monitor political and religious groups without any probable cause of a crime, to search and seize belongings without probable cause if the government claims it is part of an anti-terrorism investigation, and to prosecute any librarian or telecommunications official that reveal subpoenas where they are forced to turn over information for government spying.

For Argentineans, having suffered under the US backed military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 that murdered 30,000 leftists such moves towards dictatorship in the United States itself may not be such a great surprise. Yet those extreme measures of capitalist dictatorship in Argentina were not enough to silence the opposition,
nor will any of the measures carried out here. From the brave and determined mothers of the disappeared who held their vigils under
the worst days of the military dictatorship to today's struggles that are actually beginning to expropriate the capitalists, the Argentinean working class has not been silenced.

The attacks on American civil liberties through the Patriot Acts have paved the legal framework for similar extreme crackdowns. Yet the capitalists often pay a political price for their repression and they prefer to rule primarily through lies and false promises. That
is why these new laws are presently being used mainly, but not entirely, in a racist manner with most people feeling they are immune. Yet, these new laws now sit as a legal weapon to be used with the rest of the weapons of the police and military against any group at any time the government feels it necessary.

It should also be kept in mind that even before the passing of the Patriot Acts the US was holding many political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal who is on death row, and Leonard Peltier as well as others. The new laws go hand in hand with a general deterioration in democratic-rights that started even before September 11 and has accelerated since.

Vicente Balvanera: How has that deterioration manifested itself for the working class, employed and unemployed, and the people?

Steve Argue: Besides the direct attacks on immigrant communities, we are seeing many other manifestations of escalating repression.

On April 6th the Oakland Police opened fire on peaceful protesters on the Oakland docks. The police used so-called non-lethal ammunition and although many were injured and some permanently
disfigured, luckily nobody was killed. The violence against the protest was planned in advance with false warnings from the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) that the protest was likely to be violent.

Defending these actions Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department said, "[I]f you have a protest group protesting a war where the
cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest). You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."

Despite the repression that was carried out, another protest was held at the same location on May 12 that was joined by an 8-hour strike of dockworkers opposing the shipment of war material and reasserting the right to protest.

There are many individual incidents as well. In New Jersey a man was arrested and charged for wearing a peace T-shirt. In Charleston, West Virginia, a small city with its roots in the
confederate south and KKK terror, Katie Sierra was twice suspended by the principal for distributing fliers against the war and then
driven out of the school under threats from fellow students. The West Virginia State Supreme Court upheld these actions against her
by the principal by refusing to hear her appeal.

One of the direct attacks that has taken place against the working class came in the form of the Bush administrations threats to the
leadership of the west coast dockworker's union (ILWU). They were told that a potential strike by the worker's would be treated as a threat to national security. This had a chilling effect on the negotiations and was seen as direct interference against the workers by the Bush administration.

Vicente Balvanera: How is what has happened to you in Santa Cruz connected to other attacks elsewhere?

Steve Argue: While the fake leftists who run the Santa Cruz City government have given lip-service to opposing the Patriot Acts,
without any instructions of non-cooperation to their staff, they have passed new laws broadening the repressive powers of the local

Many of these laws are directed at street performers and the homeless as well as against political rights. Street vending and even sleep at night for the homeless, including in a vehicle, were already illegal in Santa Cruz. New laws outlawed juggling and performers staying in one place for more than an hour.

The new law that I was arrested under twice is one that makes it illegal to have a political table up for more than an hour. As a result of these arrests I am facing up to two years in prison and up to a $2,000 fine. I have argued that free speech is a constitutional right that is not limited to one hour.

Vicente Balvanera: How is the workers' movement and the people's movements of struggle confronting this attack on their political

Steve Argue: So far the main tactic of opposing this attack on free speech in Santa Cruz has been one of working to generate publicity
on the issue. The fake leftists in office in this town, and the government in general, need to try to propagate a false civil libertarian and progressive aura in order to be elected and
supported in their anti-worker and anti-poor agenda. It is this vulnerability that we see as our biggest strength at this stage in the struggle.

Due to the political pressure being exerted, the joint political tables of the Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party (RRLC-PFP) and Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) have been left alone by the police the last two times we went out. If this continues it represents a victory. We will
not be satisfied with this however. We are also demanding that this new law be overturned and that the charges be dropped against those
of us arrested. We will concede nothing in the face of repression, the political literature tables will continue!

To further the publicity, and possibly win, we plan on running candidates in the City elections. These candidates will ruthlessly
expose the actions of the fake leftists in office and put forward a program of the working class and poor. My 2002 campaign for city
office garnered 15 percent of the vote.

To further challenge this unconstitutional literature law we will also be initiating a court challenge that argues against constitutionality of the law.

The use of the elections and courts in this and in the broader struggle do not represent illusions in these as a place where we can
get justice in capitalist America, although victories in these arenas can represent the strength of the movements we are building.
We understand that ultimately justice is won by the determined actions of the working class, poor, and people in general.

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Dear Editor,
SCPD is finally doing what they are being paid to do, keeping the freaks in line so those of us who are not on welfare can make a living. I know the bums and freaks in this town don't care about this but the rest of us do. -Dweezle

Dweezle is a Nazi Weasel,
Dweezle, your comments are absurd. I am not one who collects welfare, but I am amongst many who believe in free speech. Your words harken back to the days of the rise of fascism in Germany. At that time the capitalist economy was also failing and the petty bourgeois shop keepers blamed the homeless, the Roma, the Jews, and
the workers for their troubles instead of a failing capitalist economy, the big bourgeoisie, the brutal police, and a corrupt government. You are of the small minds that create fascism, but do not be so arrogant, the poor and working class people have not been defeated and the big battles for a people's democracy are yet to come.

I have gotten too many supportive letters to post them all, but here are a few:

Bravo for standing up to the gendarmes who take their orders from the fake left of Santa Cruz!

-Comradely regards,

Adam Richmond

Who the fuck are they to bust you for free speech?

Aron Kay

Good job, Steve. I only recently moved to San Marcos, CA from Berkeley, CA. We met one day in a park in Oakland, CA and I was the guy who was trying to locate someone from the stage to allow you to speak. I am a good friend of Robert Norse.

Anyway, I would like to say that you are taking the exact and correct constitutional position I had to take a few times while in Berkeley. When they first started threatening me in 1991, I simply refused to break down my tables and eventually I not only had about a 7 table set-up but there were about 4 of us setting up on
Telegraph Avenue with political tables. No, it isn't a 'Berkeley thing', it's just exactly what you have decided to do, stand your ground - stand up - or in this case 'sit down for your rights'.

I would suggest that you continue your position and take it all the way. I would be willing to bet you are going to be the 'turning point' SantaCruz has been needing for many years - so, don't let up - and calling for supporters is the correct strategy. Contact the ACLU - make your issue very public - use the internet groups to your advantage.

I publish the peoples bark news Berkeley and will publish and push your agenda 100000%. - bottom line is, though - you have to continue to take the position that you will go to jail for your First Amendment rights and YOU WILL WIN - the people will win and the repressive assholes of Santa Cruz will start feeling the repression for a change.Tell Robert I said hi and keep up the squeeze on those lying 'progressive' jerks.

Please keep in touch and know that I reach quite a few folks in SF, San Diego and the LA area - hopefully you will hear support from some of

Keep it up - give em' hell!! Don't let up - I'm tellin' ya, you willprevail!!!! Talk shows - Democracy Now! - Flashpoints on KPFA, check out some of the many groups online that can be helpful to you.

peace with justice for all,
Abridging my civil liberties is an 'act of terrorism'!
There's a terrorist behind every BUSH!

John Vance, editor
Peoples Bark News Berkeley
pbnberkeley-subscribe (at) (archives)

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.

Becky Johnson

I read about your arrest on the SC Indymedia. You are awesome! I really love the way you stood up for our right to free speech. It is mind boggling to me that the city council gets away with what they do.


Hi, Steve.

I was smiling (even laughing a lot) as I read and visualized what exactly happened to you. Please do not take it differently. That is not because the incident was funny but your description was vividly good. I thought Santa Cruz was very liberal and have never imagined the existence of such a law. Los Angeles is more liberal as compare to Santa Cruz, I guess.

Today, I wondered again about yourself. How could you be so courageous to stand up and express yourself?! To be honest with you, I do not favor for homeless people for some of the reason you wrote about. On the other hand, I feel fear to deal with homeless. Not because they are the worst class but I have no room within me to deal with those. My life is not different from those homeless. I could be tomorrow's homeless.

The fear I am talking about is the fear of what would happen to me, if I were homeless. I always worked hard not to starve. I sometimes had 3 jobs to maintain myself. I am a citizen but came from outside about 11 years ago. I resisted so far. I live fine now. But my fine life is not something guaranteed. And I wonder. How could you be so brave to express yourself? Do not misunderstand here. I think I understand you as very interesting person since I read your article. But I admire the courage you have to stand up and say things loudly.

I apologize for my bad writings. Please forgive me.

Sincerely, Cheri

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
To: Steve Belcher, Emily Reilly, Mike Rotkin, Ed Porter, Scott Kennedy, Tim Fitzmaurice, Mark Primack, Cynthia Mathews

Re: City Suppression of Freedom of Speech in Downtown Commercial District.

I wish to lodge a formal complaint regarding the unconstitutional application of Municipal Code section 5.43.020 pertaining to "Prohibited Locations" in the Non-Commercial Use of City Streets and Sidewalks chapter. This complaint arises out of the code itself and behavior of City employees on Thursday, June 5, 2003.

Pertaining to the code itself:

·The 10 foot separation from crosswalks, benches, drinking faucets, building entrances, windows, kiosks, telephone booths, vending
carts, and food establishment "lease-area limit lines" is capricious and arbitrary, not taking into account varying sidewalk widths, predominant traffic patterns, or in fact any other real functional need. This limit excludes as a practical matter all such free speech
activity from all of lower Pacific Avenue below Cathcart and many of the side streets. There is no demonstrated compelling need for this limit, as required by the Federal Courts to exclude a form of speech.

·The one-hour limit, specified in (2) of the code section, is also capricious and arbitrary. The City has demonstrated no compelling
need for this limit as required by the courts through any kind of scientific and impartial study. In fact, the courts have ruled that
stationary solicitation is favored over moving solicitation in general.

Pertaining to the behavior of City employees:

·On the date in question, I observed armed SCPD officers greeting people who were setting up a "non-commercial display device" (the purpose of which was to hand out flyers, register voters, and obtain petition signatures) by giving them a "timestamp" warning (in the words of the officers.) This was also being done with panhandlers. This behavior is not specified in the code and starts every free speech activity with an intimidating encounter with armed officers. This has a chilling effect on the exercise of one's rights and effectively deprives people of the free exercise of those rights.

·During the course of tabling and picketing activities on the day in question, I was at various times being directly observed by
combinations of up to four City employees at once – choose from two SCPD officers, one SCPD CSO, two "Downtown Hosts", and one Redevelopment Agency employee whose purpose was unclear. All of this attention was directed at 2-3 people conducting the peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights. I have been in 700-person
peace marches in Santa Cruz that had less police presence than this. Any objective observer would conclude that I was engaged in some form of criminal activity; in fact, the two armed officers were overheard openly discussing whether picketing could be cited as obstruction of the sidewalk. This has a chilling effect and
effectively curtails the exercise of my First Amendment rights.

It is clear to me from the above that the City of Santa Cruz is engaged in actions which are designed to deprive citizens of their
Constitutional rights, both in code and in overly aggressive "enforcement" which attempt to criminalize and suppress peaceful, protected behavior. I have been personally damaged by
these actions of the Council (in passing the code section) and the various City Departments in enforcing them (in ways beyond what is legally permitted.)

I want the City of Santa Cruz to do the following:

1.Stop issuing "timestamps" to people with non-commercial displays and panhandlers.

2.Redesign the code section above so that it is based on reasonable, functional criteria that demonstrate the City's compelling interest
in restriction of protected speech. For example, the 10 ft. limit could be made "2/3 of the sidewalk width must be kept clear." The one-hour "move along" clause could be replaced with a functional requirement that requires a display device to be moved or removed at such time as the volume of foot traffic is causing demonstrable congestion around the display device.

Mike Carter

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