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News ::
Santa Cruz Police Violate Free Speech With Two More Arrests! (english)
07 Jul 2003
Steve Argue and Matt Hartogh were arrested on Sunday July 6th for distributing literature on Pacific Avenue.
Santa Cruz Police Violate Free Speech With Two More Arrests!

Press statement of the Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party (RRLC – PFP).

Steve Argue and Matt Hartogh were arrested on Sunday July 6th for distributing literature on Pacific Avenue. Both had their literature tables, signs, and literature confiscated by the police and taken in as evidence of their supposed crime. Steve Argue was also arrested on June 23rd under the same law. One of the flyers they were distributing can be read at the end of this statement.

The law they were arrested under is a new law passed by the supposedly “progressive” Santa Cruz City Council. It is a law that makes it illegal to keep a political table up for more than an hour without moving along (5.43.020 SC). This law is only selectively enforced against activists that are particularly disliked by the Santa Cruz City Council, while those organizations that do not expose the fake leftists on the City Council have so far been generally left alone.

The political tables targeted by the police were joint tables of the Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party (RRLC – PFP) and Homeless United for Peace and Freedom (HUFF). Both organizations have been outspoken in our opposition to the anti-poor and anti-working class policies and laws of the Santa Cruz City Council as well as in opposing this new law that violates the basic free speech rights of the people of Santa Cruz.

Other new laws that both organizations have opposed include one that makes juggling illegal. Performer Tom Noddy was recently arrested and held for twelve hours under this new law.

While being filmed by fellow activists, both Steve Argue and Matt Hartogh refused to move their political table and refused to sign a ticket when asked to do so. Steve Argue 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 officers were the ones who were actually in violation of the law.

As a large supportive crowd gathered they told the many cops who were also gathering that they would not stop distributing literature and that they would not take the table down. They said they would not back down voluntarily and pointed out that the only way they would be temporarily stopped would be if the police arrested them and took the table down themselves.

After officers waited for Sgt. Butchy Baker to arrive, the police then arrested the two and took the table and flyers into evidence.

Sgt. Baker is a cop that is assigned to deal with political cases. On Monday, June 30th, Sgt. Baker closed down a video showing of Steve Argue’s earlier arrest and cited activists Robert Norse and Jim Ross for “audio amplification without a permit”. This is the first time such a charge has been used against a video display by activists. Baker also cited another man for “sitting on the planter railing” after that man had helped in carrying video equipment for the showing. It was also Sgt. Baker who arrested Steve Argue on Labor Day last year for jaywalking and Baker has cited Robert Norse for this same “offense”. The Labor Day arrest of Argue prevented him from making it to a Labor Day picnic where he was scheduled to promote his campaign to be elected to City Council.

In addition, Baker was 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 was promoted.

As bad as Sgt. Butchy Baker is, his activities are not those of some rogue cop. They represent the laws, policies, and intentions of his fake leftist bosses that comprise the entire Santa Cruz City Council. This is why the Citizen’s Police Review Board, appointed by the City Council, was almost entirely useless. And after the Board took an independent stand opposing the selective enforcement of the Santa Cruz Police the City Council abolished the body.

Steve Argue is no stranger to being arrested for free speech. In 1998 he was arrested by the Santa Cruz Police for selling a non-corporate newspaper. During that arrest, and while he was being held in custody, he 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 Argue’s 1998 arrest received, he 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, it is essential that the people stand up for the rights of those who are standing up for their rights. Steve Argue, Matt Hartogh, Robert Norse, Jim Ross, and Tom Noddy all deserve your support.

As Steve Argue has stated, “In the traditions of the IWW who successfully defended free speech rights at the turn of the last century, Steve Argue has vowed 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.”

The homepage for Liberation News, the mouthpiece of the Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg Club of the Peace and Freedom Party, can be found at:
http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news

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

Donations for flyers, legal costs, etc. can be sent to Steve Argue at 1135 N. Branciforte, Santa Cruz CA 95062.


Here is the text of the flyer Steve Argue 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

The homepage for Liberation News can be found at
http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news

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

See also:
http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news
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