Earlier this year in Park City, Dino took to the road, literally, to give the other Dance festivals a run for their money. His ROADance was to be a mobile independent film festival that would show films in the middle of the street. But the law swooped in and shut down Dino’s operation not long after it began.
Things were looking bleak for the festival on wheels until recently when Dino caught wind of a recent federal appeals court ruling involving NYC and street art – It seems as though showing films in the street IS protected by the 1st amendment.
The 2nd circuit Federal Appeals Court has just issued a ruling in Lederman et al v Giuliani completely in favor of the street artists (see ruling below). The ruling deals with the Parks Department artist-permit which a lower Federal court (Judge Lawrence M. McKenna) overturned in August 2001. This lawsuit has two parts, the Parks artist permit issue and a different issue involving Mayor Giuliani targeting Robert Lederman and other members of A.R.T.I.S.T. for false arrest at protests throughout the City. Lederman is best known as the creator of thousands of paintings and signs about Mayor Giuliani’s policies resembling a police state. He was arrested more than 40 times during the Mayor’s term in office and never prosecuted.
This ruling brings to an end 5 1/2 years of litigation challenging the Parks Department artist permit. The remaining section of this lawsuit about Mayor Giuliani, Robert Lederman and the other Lederman plaintiffs is still expected to go to trial.
The 2nd circuit ruling below confirms exactly what the plaintiffs told the City years BEFORE they created the artist permit in 1998; that it directly violated the 1996 Bery/Lederman decision following a similar lawsuit brought by many of the same plaintiffs.
Exactly as in the previous lawsuit, the Giuliani administration and it’s legal advisors determined their license/permit requirement was both Unconstitutional and illegal in that it directly violated existing NYC law. The administration then aggressively pursued a knowingly-false arrest policy against street artists, repeatedly arresting them, confiscating and destroying their art then dismissing every single case.
Today is a great day for artists’ rights. This new ruling further affirms the principle that visual art is fully protected by the First Amendment and that the City cannot arbitrarily create a license or permit scheme to restrict artists in violation of freedom of speech.
Look for ROADance to hit the streets again very soon!
Until then, show your support at the ROADance website.