Wednesday, July 30, 2008


A Protest of Unlawful Searches in Tompkins Square Park ...

Protestors , placards in hand , arrived this evening at the central lawn in Tompkins Square Park prepared to confront this evening's event's corporate sponsors over the issue of some unlawful searches .
These unlawful searches did in fact occur at the previous movie in this park . Since that previous event though , much in advance of this evenings protest and movie , the Parks Dept. had determined that such searches were not lawful and could not be conducted by private security in any park including TSP.
All of this was probably the result of the confusion always encountered when attempting to obtain an event permit from the Parks Dept. . We were told by Darin Rubell ,one of the events promoters , that several months ago when applying for the permit to show movies in TSP that a pregnant Indian woman at the Parks Dept . headquarters had told him that he would be required to see to security issues at any event that he was promoting in TSP . This simply was not completly true .
Mr. Rubell claims that he and his partners had been concerned with problems that they had had with drinkers and other trouble makers in the past . To prevent such problems from occuring he and his partners , believing that the Parks Dept. had at the very beginning authorized them to do so , started searching bags for alcohol and denying access to certain suspect individuals . They were wrong to do this .Such actions taken on the part of private individuals to search other private individuals in a public park are unlawful .
Because of this situation tonights protest of these searches was organized and conducted .
We were told by Harry Greenburg , the Parks Dept supervisor responsible for TSP , this afternoon that as soon as he learned of the searches he informed those responsible for the unlawful searches that such searches could not be done by private security at the movie-in-th- park event . In short he pointed out that TSP is a public park and anyone can enter any part of the park at any time during the hours that the park is open to the public . No one other than a New York City police officer can search anyone in a public park and then only in the rare extreme case when it can be determined that there is sufficient cause to do so .
Mr. Greenburg noted that the commisioner was informed of the unlawful searches and that the commisioner made it clear that such searches were unlawful . He stated that these searches should not have occured and that such searches can not be conducted in the park at any time in the future .
Nonetheless the protestors arrived at their appointed time to protest . Immediately on arrival they were informed that there would not be any searches to protest . No matter... they protested anyway displaying their placards , with a few of the protest fringe , handouts in hand , clucking and pecking away at anyone with-in reach at the entrance gate .
There were obvious signs of the presence of the real estate and corporate interests sponsoring the event that they could at least legitimately protest . We agree with the protestors on that issue : in most cases corporate and real estate interests simply should not be advertizing or promoting in our public parks .
For another take on the searches :

The promoters really made a piss-poor explanation for their shredding of the US constitution by instituting searches to enter a city park. It amazes me that an American citizen should have such a poor understanding of their own country that they would not know what absolute constitutional rights that we all share. "A pregnant Indian woman" is a poor excuse for the movie organizer's total ignorance of what every school child should understand. I suggest they begin by reading the 4th amendment to the U.S. constitution.
Can we all just relax a little? This is hardly a neocon government conspiracy. These are just some local guys trying to put on a free show for the neighborhood. They are not making any money - no vendors, no refreshments, no nothing but a good free movie on a summer night. In the hopes to keeping it a somewhat friendly and safe environment, and at the request of the parks department, they employed (at their own cost!) security. Is that worth all this overblown protesting? Settle down, pack a picnic, watch a free movie, and relax. And to quell the expected replies, I am in no way affiliated with the event. I don't even live in NYC anymore, just tired of people with nothing better to do than create unnecessary controversy.
this was hardly an issue that rises to being of any constitutional significance . Any claim presented as such would not stand up to even the most preliminary of challenges .

If anything at all this was perhaps a violation of the penal code as harrasment or menacing .

As far as we can determine there was no one denied access to any part of the park and whatever searching was done was not accomplished in any very serious organized manner .

Whatever happened should not have happened and certainly should not happen again .

All that said we still must emphasize that any visible advertizing or promoting of real estate interests , entertianment industry establishments or organizations or product promotions are as far as we are concerned inappropriate in our public parks ; not to be allowed in our public parks , even though such parties and interests may have contributed to events in our public parks .
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