Saturday, April 5, 2014

Santa Cruz city council censors, punishes critics who speak during public comments portion of council session

Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz: [link]

"Shutting Down Alternate Media at Santa Cruz City Council"
2014-04-05 from Robert Norse of Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF) []:
So far both the Sentinel and Santa Cruz Indymedia have given some space to my arrest last Tuesday  afternoon at City Council for replacing my audio recorder in its traditional spot near the podium and then refusing to leave the chambers when directed to do so by Mayor Robinson.  The incident is also discussed on the facebook pages Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz as well as Citizens for Open, Transparent, Accountable Government.  Beware getting caught in Troll Tripwire at the first page.
Please spread the word about this situation and e-mail authorities and allies if you feel it appropriate.
"Norse Incident Sounds Alarm" at []

"Arrest of journalist on April 1st unwarranted"
2014-04-02 from Becky Johnson, on behalf of Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF) [] to Mayor Lynn Robinson, of City of Santa Cruz, Ca.:
Re: Arrest of Robert Norse for recording the meeting.
On April 1, 2014, HUFF member & radio journalist, Robert Norse attended the Santa Cruz City Council. He had e-mailed you in advance informing you that he would be speaking on behalf of our organization, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF), & was seeking the customary 5-minutes traditionally afforded organizations on relevant agenda items.
As your follow-up e-mail confirmed, you were aware he intended to speak on the item re: new permits required for large events.
He placed his tape recorder upon the wooden banister to record portions of the meeting for his radio show as he has done hundreds of times since 1995, when the Sgt. of Arms interfered with his ability to record and informed him that it was upon your orders.
Robert Norse' use of a portable tape recorder in no way disrupts council meetings and is protected by the 1st amendments prohibitions on preventing the press from performing their work.
While I am aware you appear to have specifically tailored a policy to ban Mr. Norse and only Mr. Norse from recording upcoming meetings, it appears you also intended to shut down HUFF's timely concerns, intimidate our members, and pass a chill on the freedom of members of the press to cover council meetings under your rule.
In addition, since you had Mr. Norse arrested, charged with misdemeanor charge of disrupting a meeting, and excluded from the rest of the meeting, you prevented our organization's ability to weigh in on the item on which Mr. Norse was there to present. As such, this constitutes a Brown Act violation so that we seek the entire item be redone with appropriate public comment allowed and an unfettered press to cover the item as well.
You are the first Mayor in 18 years to go to the draconian extreme of arresting a member of the press for using a recording device at a City Council meeting.
At the very least, this is petty, personal, disturbing, and beneath you.
We urge that no charges be filed against Mr. Norse since no actual disruption of the meeting occurred, that the policy forbidding tape recorders placed on the banister be rescinded, and that an apology from yourself be forth-coming.
Please settle this small matter before it becomes a large matter.

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