March 11, 2003
by Becky Johnson
Half a dozen SCPD officers attend and leave satisfied
Police Squad returns to enforce sleeping, tabling bans.
Santa Cruz, Ca. --- At the stroke of midnight, the demonstrators at
the Vigil to End Two Wars, began their event, Sex for Peace. Inspired
groups of mostly young males who continually drive by the Vigil at
unsafe speeds shouting something like "F__K peace!!", vigilers were
inspired to schedule a very special round of civil disobedience for the
cause of world peace.
"A piece for peace!" vigil-goer, Yani proclaimed. Throughout the
day, vigilers invited people to return at midnight and have Sex for
Peace. "Bring the sexual partner of your choosing and come to Cooper
St. and Pacific Ave. at midnight!" announced Robert Norse of HUFF. Most
members of the public seemed keen on the event.
One man, who admitted sadly that he had no sexual partner, offered
to attend and provide backup if asked.
Two minutes to midnight, Sgt. Pruger and five other police officers
arrived in four police cars, temporarily interrupting some heavy
Officer Kline, when informed that the SCPD had arrived just in
time for the "Sex for Peace" event, advised vigil organizers that the
indecent exposure ordinance would be enforced. "Its a misdemeanor, and
I highly recommend against it," warned Officer Kline.
The organizers explained that sometimes at demonstrations, people
do commit civil disobedience for the cause of the greater good. Police
officers then examined the two non-commercial display devices for
conformity to the 6 foot by 3 foot rules that limited the size of a
table. Police left satisfied for the moment.
One very dedicated couple disappeared beneath the HUFF protest
table, and vigilers placed several protest signs around the table.
proceeded to give it their all for the greater good of mankind. Such
was their dedication and perseverance, that long after 1AM they were
still actively pursuing the cause of peace. "Take that Ashcroft!" the
dedicated peace worker mumbled from beneath the table. One elderly
onlooker commented "When they say 'Make Love, Nor War', they ain't
Heightened "Yellow Alert" Surveillance to Forestall Criminal
Sleeping and Subversive Tabling
Around 5 a.m., three police officers, arrived with the
determination that sleeping as well as making love was forbidden, and
warned the dozen vigilers to stay awake or face citation and arrest.
The City's current emergency shelter capacity is 160, including the
Armory, which is due to close March 15 (and may close sooner if Bush
begins his Iraq invasion).
The Homeless Census 2000 estimated the number of homeless and
nomadic people in Santa Cruz City limits at 1500-2000. With increasing
unemployment and soaring rents, HUFF activists suggest that number is
at the top end.
Two hours later around 7 a.m. six officers and a lieutenant showed
up to enforce the "no sleeping" edict. They also insisted that the two
tables were illegal even though run by different groups. Unable to
cite the appropriate "illegal display device" law, Lt. Tom Vlassis
nonetheless coaxed and pressed the sleep-befogged protesters, saying he
would clarify the issue with City Attorney John Barisone today.
Vlassis was accompanied by a police van and two squad cars.
Vlassis said the assistant police chief had ordered his squad to
confiscate the literature, signs, & petitions as well as the candles,
sleeping bags, backpacks, & blankets of the participants, who were in
their 4th cold night of a demonstration that began Friday noon to
contain the vigiling menace as needed. Tablers shook their heads and
again combined the tables, festooned with "Vigil Against Two Wars" and
"Honk for Peace" placards.
Vigilers praised Vlassis for friendly delivery of a harsh and
Vigil flyers urge resistance to the war in Iraq as well as to Santa
Cruz's Ashcroft-era restrictions on tabling, sitting, sleeping, and
peaceful sparechanging. Participants are opposed to the War against
Iraq and the war against the poor at home. Other civil disobedience
activities (made criminal by City Council) include blowing bubbles,
playing hacky-sack, tossing a frisbee, playing hopscotch, and bouncing