Posted by Robert Lederman on January 22, 1998 at 07:18:59:
Defying Giuliani’s Police State
by Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.
(Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)
The Pedestrian Crackdown is Only the Beginning
The furor Mayor Giuliani's arbitrary pedestrian crackdown has
ignited is more than just impatient New Yorkers reacting to
inconvenience. It's becoming apparent to more people every day
that for Giuliani, "quality of life" means repressing their civil
freedoms. When it was street artists, vendors and teenagers
being targeted by Gestapo-like crackdowns most people didn't
understand the direction Giuliani was heading. Now that their
own basic freedom to cross the street is being threatened they
can understand why he’s called Rudy "Police State" Giuliani.
Giuliani = Police State
Watching the Mayors’ State of the City address in handcuffs
from the basement of City Hall gave me an insight into what
Giuliani means when he says, "This is my chance to do all of
the things that I was too timid and restrained to do in the first
administration." I’m one of the “criminals” he admonished
before a hand-picked audience of obedient admirers clapping
and cheering on cue. My crime? Writing GIULIANI=POLICE
STATE with chalk on the street near his car.
It’s All About Big Business
The worst aspect of the evolving Giuliani Police State is that
its motivation is neither “public safety” nor a well meaning but
misguided attempt to improve our “quality of life”. Every
Giuliani initiative begins and ends with his agenda to satisfy the
corrupt demands of big business. The average persons’ civil
freedoms and constitutional rights are viewed as annoying
impediments to the smoothly running corporate police state,
New York Inc. Giuliani has replaced small-time gangsters (like
the Mafia) with big-business gangsters (Business Improvement
Districts and real estate interests like the Times Square B.I.D.).
While our schools, roads, bridges and streets are disintegrating
due to Giuliani’s budget cuts large corporations, real estate
interests and other major campaign contributors are given
massive tax write-offs and allowed to do anything they please.
Corporate felony crimes are ignored or given the Mayor’s
blessing while the average New Yorker finds themselves
increasingly likely to be arrested on the slightest pretext.
Is Giuliani Protecting Public Safety or Corporate Profits?
If the Mayor had a real interest in public safety he might order
some of the 38,000 cops presently assigned to harassing street
artists and pedestrians to inspect the City’s thousands of
crumbling buildings. Is it an oversight that New York City has
only 76 building inspectors? Of course, the real estate interests
that put Giuliani in office would not appreciate a sudden
increase in building inspections leading to massive fines and
enormously costly renovations. When pedestrians are crushed
by falling building facades on a daily basis the Mayor will use
the pedestrian barricades to steer us like sheep past the most
dangerous corners. It was no coincidence that he started his
pedestrian initiative right after a series of incidents involving
falling bricks, crumbling buildings and exploding water and gas
mains. Forcing people to cross the street three times instead of
one does nothing to help pedestrians although it does help the
Mayor’s limo get to his photo opportunities faster.
Giuliani is a Hypocrite
We street artists have fought the Mayor’s repressive policies
for the past four years and are familiar with his tactics. Mayor
Giuliani is a hypocrite. In reverent tones he talked about the
value of art for school children while petitioning the U.S.
Supreme Court to eliminate First Amendment protection for
artists. He recited platitudes about “including all New York” as
an army of police closed off a three block section around City
Hall to prevent anyone but Giuliani supporters with invitations
from attending his inauguration. Each Veterans Day he delivers
a speech about the sacrifices of “our brave men and women in
uniform”. The other 364 days of the year he orders the police to
harass disabled veteran vendors off the streets. While the only
protesters at his inauguration were being handcuffed, arrested
and dragged away, Giuliani cynically called free speech, “a
New York tradition”. Is anyone so naive as to believe that
Giuliani’s pedestrian barricade initiative is about public safety?
Defiance is the Key to Freedom
The Mayor is right about one thing. Protest IS a New York
City tradition. We invite all New Yorkers to join with us in acts
of non-violent civil disobedience to protest the Mayor and his
police state tactics. Such acts of defiance protect the civil
freedoms that determine authentic Quality of Life. The
Constitution specifically protects our right to publicly disagree
with the Mayor, to gather together in protest against his
policies, to criticize him by speaking, writing, painting,
chalking and publishing our opinions about him and to sue him
when he violates our right to protest by having us arrested. The
principle underlying the Declaration of Independence is that
people have a right to rebel against oppressive tyrants.
Use Your Freedom of Speech While You Still Have It
Giuliani’s worst nightmare involves large numbers of New
Yorkers using their freedom of speech to criticize him while
he’s climbing the public relations ladder to national office. All
you need is a simple piece of chalk with which to write your
opinion on the sidewalk for other people to see. For chalk we
recommend using a piece of drywall recycled from the garbage
and available everywhere in our crumbling city. It makes an
effective medium to fight back with and it’s free. Let the world
know that the so-called accomplishments of the Giuliani
Administration are nothing more than a Disnified version of
“The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
We Are Not Sheep
New York City’s street artists were among the first targets of
Giuliani’s oppression. We invite you to join us now in showing
the world that New Yorkers are not sheep; that we need no pens
or corrals on our streets; and that we will not tolerate the Mayor
abridging our freedom to speak, sell art, walk or protest.
Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.
(Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics) (718) 369-2111
e-mail ARTISTpres@aol.com A.R.T.I.S.T. web site
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