tell Kelly, Quinn and Bloomberg we are still a free people

LA police un-permitting a march in MacArthur Park, May 1, 2007, demonstrating that more and more everything which is not permitted by law is forbidden

Tomorrow evening, July 27, folks who want to fight for our right to assemble and speak as a free people will be joined in Union Square by those who oppose the latest repressive maneuver by Police Chief Kelly, City Council Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg to restrict everybody else's rights, in this case the right to use cameras and video equipment in public.

Just before Memorial Day weekend Bloomberg’s Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting introduced draconian regulations regarding the taking of still and moving images anywhere in the City of New York. The rules, which will go into effect in August, will severely impede the ability of even casual photographers and filmmakers to operate in the city. A group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour (including setup and breakdown time) will be required to secure $1 million liability insurance coverage and to apply for (and hope to be granted) a permit from the city before any picture could be taken. Perhaps most insidiously of all, any regulation like this becomes an arbitrary device for law enforcement, and we already know the sort of people who will end up feeling its impact.

As usual the police will be free to implement or ignore the law at their own discretion. The new rules have nothing to do with easing the movement of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, as the City would have us believe. It has everything to do with controlling expression. The NY Civil Liberties Union has of course informed the Mayor's office of the obvious, that “these regulations violate the First Amendment right to photograph in public places, and open the door to selective and discriminatory enforcement.” [just when did I first feel I was more militant than the Civil Liberties Union?]

Tomorrow is also the last Friday of the month, Critical Mass day, and both bikes and supporters are certain to be part of the crowd in Union Square.

By the way, just before all this comes together on Broadway below 17th Street Cindy Sheehan returns to Union Square and will be joined by many other outraged citizens will just above 14th Street where Sheehan will host a press conference at 5 pm. It will be followed an hour later by a rally and procession, "Declare It Now". This event is expected to address the crimes of the Bush regime and to launch the color orange (assigned to those the regime has detained and tortured with no due process) as the symbol of the movement to end that outrage - and remove its devisers from office. That group is expected to end up with Critical Mass and the demonstration at the north end of the park, where Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and Picture New York (a new coalition of concerned filmmakers and photographers) will be gathering "for a festive and un-permitted celebration of the First Amendment".

This all has the makings of being far more interesting as a total event than even the sum of its parts might otherwise promise. Maybe it will become a monthly vigil. I wouldn't miss it tomorrow for anything.

Bloomberg, Quinn, Commissioner Kelly and a lot of other people who don't trust you want you to stay home tomorrow night, but if you are a patriot and if you're within shouting distance of New York you're probably going to want to come to the North Side of Union Square around 6:30.

[image from]

Not in town-- If you do it again, I will be there. So many lines have been crossed but this is something that has to be stopped regardless of the cost.