Santa Cruz DIY parade organizers vow to forge ahead: Police chief urges permit, but says officers won't disrupt event
By J.M. BROWN Santa Cruz Sentinel
Dec. 15, 2010
SANTA CRUZ -- Organizers of the New Year's Eve DIY parade 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 community 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
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
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 pose safety
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 farmers market 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.
"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," Mayor Ryan Coonerty said. "We have been frustrated in the past
because they are not cooperating out of some abstract, ideological