To: Mayor Lynn Robinson
City of Santa Cruz, Ca.
re: arrest of Robert Norse for recording the meeting
April 2 2014,
Dear Mayor Robinson,
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
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tape recorders placed on the banister be rescinded, and that an apology from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.
Becky Johnson, on behalf of HUFF
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB 14B — Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
or email me back directly at the address above.