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(en) US, Main streem Media: SANTA CRUZ - Organizers announced the sixth New Year's Eve DIY parade

Date Thu, 16 Dec 2010 17:32:23 +0200

Santa Cruz DIY parade organizers vow to forge ahead: Police chief urges permit, but says officers won't disrupt event ---- Organizers announced Wednesday they intend to host the unpermitted event for the sixth time. ---- City officials have long encouraged organizers to seek a permit for the largely peaceful anarchist-themed parade, which draws hundreds each year. Police have said a permit would allow them to better prepare traffic and security measures, but organizers have refused to cooperate. ---- "While the police and civic leaders try to frighten us with the specter of downtown violence, we just want to participate in a communal celebration with our neighbors," organizer Elizabeth Burchfield wrote in an e-mail sent to reporters. "We are tired of being afraid. It's time to organize together." ---- Burchfield, who called the event "a homespun, family-friendly alternative celebration and a controversial embarrassment for the city," declined to comment further on the plans.

An original organizer of the parade, Wes Modes, said he is not involved in planning the event this year and has not been for the last several years. However, he wrote in an e-mail, "I'm happy to see it continue in the same spirit."

Police Chief Kevin Vogel said his department will reach out to organizers and ask them again to seek a permit. But given the group's history of refusing, he said, "I'm under no illusion that we'll have any success with that, but it's incumbent upon us to at least try."

Vogel said the department has no intention of disrupting the
parade but will document people in attendance and turn over any citable offenses to the city attorney. The chief acknowledged that "it's absolutely been a peaceful event," but said the traffic disruptions caused by people marching down Pacific Avenue without a permit poses safety concerns.

The event has been the subject of controversy since 2006, when Vogel, then a deputy chief, authorized an undercover operation aimed at learning the group's intentions. Once organizers discovered the spying and went public, the police department changed its undercover policies under pressure from City Council members and others.

Vogel, who was named chief last week, has since said he regretted the spying case. But anarchism in Santa Cruz came under scrutiny again last spring, when demonstrators smashed windows of downtown businesses and scrawled anarchist messages on buildings after a May Day rally.

The city has also continued to have a difficult relationship with Modes, who was convicted in August of participating in the 2009 DIY parade. City Attorney John Barisone said he filed the complaint out of a belief that Modes was a principal organizer, which Modes denies.

The citation threatened to undo an agreement Modes made last December to stay out of trouble for a year and perform 250 hours of community service in exchange for prosecutors dropping a battery charge related to a 2008 scuffle with police at the downtown drum circle. Even though Modes was found guilty of the 2009 parade citation and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service, prosecutors chose not pursue a link to his criminal case.

Mayor Ryan Coonerty said, "As always, we hope for the safety of those participating in the event that they coordinate the parade with the city, just like every other group does. We have been frustrated in the past because they are not cooperating out of some abstract, ideological reason."
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