RHA asks Speaker Quinn about 1st Amendment, police rules

Quinn_Stonewall_Democrats.jpg
the RHA visits Speaker Quinn at the Stonewall Democratic Club open meeting


Yesterday the junta in Burma invoked a colonial-era section of the nation's criminal code under which the government can use police or military force against any group of people who have not been granted a permit to assemble. The rule's threshold is any assembly of more than five. Burma and the world is once again witness to the open violence with which undemocratic authority will inevitably try to maintain itself. At this hour fourteen people are known to have been killed by soldiers and police.

Back in New York people are starting to make connections. Tim Doody is a member of the Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] and a constituent of Council Member Christine Quinn, who this year promulgated a New York City rule making illegal any "unpermitted" assembly of 50 or more people. Responding to news of Burma's emergency proclamation restricting citizen assembly, or what most of the media is referring to as Burma's "curfew", today Doody asked,

Does Speaker Quinn really believe the difference between a junta and a democracy is 45 people?


Last night members of the RHA attended an open meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club, held in the LGBT Community Center, where Speaker Quinn had been asked to speak. The RHA held up two banners on the sides of the room calling attention to the First Amendment issue of arbitrarily-formulated Parade Rules which will inevitably be arbitrarily enforced. When the Q&A session was closed, and the host had not called on anyone who might have asked the Club's distinguished visitor about the elephant in the room, one of the guests who was not a member of the RHA asked that the question be solicited, adding that it would reflect very badly on the people in the room if the signs displayed so prominently went unexplained.

Quinn now graciously sought out a raised hand and the question came from the floor, 'Would you explain to the constituency in this room your support of and your role in the promulgation of the unconstitutional, so-called Police 'Parade Rules'?"

There was nothing new or revealing in her response, and I myself still honestly have no idea why she got herself into a law-and-order posture so contrary to anything she ever stood for. Her argument remains rather circular and her logic vague or obsfucatory, but in this venue there was no way to carry on a discussion or venture an appeal to reason, something thus far lacking in her defense of the police rules.

She never lost her composure and she even offered to "come back here [the Stonewall Democratic Club or the LGBT Center?] any time" to specifically discuss the issue. There were two real surprises, I think, each possibly suggesting a chink in the blue wall to which she seems to have attached herself. One was the fact that at least twice she said that the assembly rules were "an ongoing conversation", and the other was an interesting throwaway line something to the effect, "If in the future legislation is produced . . . .", suggesting that the Council might still get involved in the issue and hold open public hearings, as it surely ought to.

In the meantime the conversation will continue on the only stage the powerless have available to them: that constructed on free assembly and speech. On Saturday at 7 o'clock, a second "Parade Without A Permit", a joyous party celebrating those fundamental rights, will assemble at the fountain in Washington Square Park and progress through the West Village, the streets of the Speaker's own district.


[the small sign on the right reads, "1st Amendment not for sale"]

Note that while Quinn was
ducking the questions from RHA, the NYPD was busy
arresting supporters of Sylvia Rivera Law Project
at their celebration.

I think we need to note that Quinn has done many
good things - around AIDS services, syringe exchange,
community gardens. It is within this context that
we have to ask why Quinn now refuses to check the power of the police department?

see the entry which immediately follows this one, "apparently Sylvia Rivera still scares the cops"

To me what's more important is that Quinn has effectively destroyed the West Side, Chelsea and above, by being bought by developers and landlords. When she ran for office she promised she would never take money from developers and now that's all she's got. All over the area people are being forced out of their homes and small businesses are being forced out.

Sure, the parade rules are important, but if I can't live here to partake in demonstrating, then there's a larger problem.