File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1999/avant-garde.9905, message 70

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:20:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Giuliani has artist arrested at federal civil rights hearing (fwd)

Giuliani orders artist/activist arrested outside Federal Civil Rights
Commission Hearing as retaliation for crashing Mayor=92s birthday party the
night before.

[A first person account by Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.
(Artists=92 Response To Illegal State Tactics) (718) 369-2111 ]

On 5/26/99 I was outside the Federal Civil Rights Commission hearings on
NYPD civil rights abuses being held at the Doubletree Guests Suites Hotel
at 47th St and Broadway. I=92d been there since 9 A.M. and had come to
testify before the panel, had been pre-interviewed and was scheduled to
speak at 7 PM.

The police had set up a barricade/pen in the street outside the front of
the hotel. Numerous demonstrators both with and without signs were milling
around on the sidewalk or in the street, talking, drinking coffee or
standing inside the pen. To my knowledge, none of the other demonstrators
was threatened with arrest at any time regardless of where they were
standing. At around 10:15 A.M. fellow A.R.T.I.S.T. member Knut Masco,
Randy Credico, the activist/comedian who parodies Giuliani and I were
standing on the sidewalk on the SE side of 47th Street. The Mayor=92s car
was parked on the opposite side of the street. We were quietly talking and
drinking coffee. I had two Giuliani portraits, the fronts of which were
facing each other held between my knees and not visible while I drank
coffee and talked. We were not at that time or in that location
demonstrating in any fashion.

Captain Heegan and Sgt. Negus approached us accompanied by three other
uniformed police officers.

The Captain immediately asked us each our names starting with me. As soon
as we each told him our names he told us we had to get back into the
holding pen around the corner or we=92d be immediately arrested. I explained
to the Captain that we were merely talking among ourselves while drinking
coffee on an almost empty sidewalk, were not at the time or in that
location demonstrating and were doing nothing illegal. Captain Heegan then
asked me if he, pointing to Randy Credico, was with me. It seemed like he
was trying to acertain whether Credico was an accomplice in a =93crime=94.
Captain Heegan then immediately ordered each of us to be arrested.

I explained to the Captain that we were fully within our rights, that it
would be a false arrest and that we did not have to leave. As they were
preparing to handcuff us I said we=92d go back around the corner into the
pen on Broadway, and led the others to do so. I did this not because I
believed we were breaking any law but to avoid arrest so that I and the
others would be able to testify before the Commission. As short time later
I crossed 47th St. and stood on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the
street from the hotel (the NE side of 47th). Captain Heegan and the other
officers came and stood immediately in front of and around me. At no time
while I was on that side of the street was I asked to leave or given any
other directive by the police.

After a few minutes Captain Heegan began shoving me in the chest
forcefully pushing me along the sidewalk towards the corner. Giuliani and
his staff then exited the hotel from a side entrance on the SE side of
47th. and began walking towards his car. They entered the car from the
street, side not the sidewalk side I was on. I held up my sign. The Mayor
looked right at it and at me and grinned. At no time was I closer than 25
feet from the Mayor. Most of the time I was about 50 feet away. Aside from
myself and the police, there was no one else in that general area of
sidewalk at that time. The Mayor=92s large 4x4 Chevy Suburban and the four
or five police officers were between myself and the Mayor at all times.
Captain Heegan tore the signs out of my hand and ordered me arrested. A
female photographer with the Mayor shot at least one photo of the arrest.
The Mayor=92s spokesperson, Sunny Mindel, called out to me a second before I
was arrested, =93Hi Robert=94, and waved.

Heegan told Sgt. Negus to voucher the two signs as arrest evidence. I
asked the Captain what I=92d be charged with. He said Disorderly Conduct,
Obstruction of Governmental Administration and Jaywalking because, =93you
stepped off the curb=94. The only time I=92d stepped off the curb was when I
crossed from the south to the north side of 47th Street. Immediately after
I was handcuffed the police attempted to intimidate Knut Masco to get him
to stop taking photos and also ordered him to turn off his tape recorder.
They told me I=92d be going through the system because of the multiple

During the two and a half hours I was held in a cell numerous police
officials conferred in and outside the holding room about my arrest. I was
told the entire precinct was working on it. When they were not in the room
they were often huddled right outside in plain view through a large

During the processing a police officer told me that the NYPD legal
department and D.A.=92s office were being conferred with on the arrest and
that, =93even they think it=92s a bad arrest. They=92re not sure what to charge
you with=94.

After about an hour a plainclothes officer entered the room, sat down in
front of my cell and introduced himself as Sgt. Casserly, badge number
#4584 of the NYPD Intelligence Division. I made him write down the
information before agreeing to talk to him because the City routinely
denies I have an intelligence file or have ever talked to any NYPD
intelligence officer. He questioned me about whether or not I intended to
kill or harm Giuliani. This is the sixth time I=92ve been
interviewed-interrogated by the Intelligence Division about my non-violent
and totally lawful protest activities. At no time have I ever threatened
the Mayor, tried to get close enough to touch him, made any gesture or
said anything that would lead a reasonable person to think I intended him
any physical harm. The ability to criticize an elected official without
being arrested, intimidated or harmed is exactly what the First Amendment
was intended to protect.

I was later released and given back my two signs and was only charged with
Disorderly Conduct. My case will be arraigned at #346 Broadway on June 30.
This was my 37th arrest for protesting against the Mayor. I=92ve never been
convicted, paid a fine or plea bargained. Only one case [1995] was ever
brought to trial. I represented myself and was aquitted of all of the

The 5/26 arrest was an act of retaliation

On the previous night, 5/25/99, I had crashed the Mayor=92s $1,000 a plate
birthday party/fundraiser held at the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd Street and
7th Avenue. I believe that this latest arrest was ordered in retaliation
for the previous night and that is why the police officials asked each of
us our names before attempting to arrest us, something that has never
happened to me previously or to anyone else I know. Initially I=92d had no
intention of trying to get into the event because my face is so familiar
to Giuliani=92s security staff, who=92ve arrested me a few times and talked to
me on many occasions. By a series of amazing coincidences, as I approached
each security checkpoint in the hotel where the party was being held the
numerous undercover officers acting as guards were momentarily distracted
and I was able to walk right past them unnoticed despite being the only
person not wearing a suit and holding two large pieces of cardboard. I
believe my getting access to the event caused the Mayor=92s staff and the
police to get a lot of flak from him. Since no one questioned my being
there, stopped me or asked me to produce an invitation, I believed it was
perfectly OK to go inside. My intention was to present the Mayor with a
=93Giuliani as Hitler=94 portrait as a birthday present to go with the
hundreds he=92s had illegally confiscated. One of Giuliani=92s wealthy
contributors told me she was amazed that someone as out-of-place looking
as me could have gotten in. I was wearing a torn sweater, green sweat
pants, white socks and sandals.

After about 25 minutes inside the ballroom talking to media people and
Giuliani supporters a number of security men and some of the Mayor=92s
security staff approached me from various directions. First they made the
media people that were talking to me leave the ballroom and prove their
identities. Then they confiscated my signs and attempted to get me to
voluntarily leave so as to avoid a scene. I negotiated with them for the
next 15 minutes from a seat at a table in the ballroom and eventually
agreed to leave if my signs were immediately returned. As soon as the
signs were returned I stood and let them escort me to the door while
holding the signs up for everyone to see and making a loud speech
denouncing Mayor Giuliani.

My statement was that no Republican who cared about the Constitution or
this country would ever support, vote for or contribute money to a man
that violates the Constitution every second he=92s in office; who is hated
by the vast majority of New Yorkers; who trashes First Amendment rights
and who is widely considered to be a racist. Governer Bush, who appeared
to be waiting to be introduced to make a speech, was standing just three
or four feet from me with his mouth hanging open and a look of incredulity
as I spoke. The security people began complaining to me that I had
attracted a few reporters who were listening and taking notes.

After they escorted me outside I picketed the event, displayed my signs
and made speeches about Giuliani in front of the hotel for the next two
hours.  I also engaged various recognizable Giuliani associates in private
conversations about the Mayor as they left to go to their cars, walking
with them and talking. They each appeared to be fully aware of who I was.
In the course of the evening I spoke privately to Guy Molinari, Ray
Harding, Paul Crotty and numerous Orthodox and Hassidic Jews who were at
the event. A number of the Mayor=92s supporters cursed at me and tried to
get the uniformed officers who were assigned to watch me outside the hotel
to make an arrest. The Hassidic and Orthodox Jews I spoke to seemed
genuinely interested in what I had to say, a few even agreeing and telling
their friends, =93You see? What did I tell you about Giuliani?.=94

[The following is excerpted from pg. 12 NY Post 5/27/99 =93Rudy defends NYPD
before federal panel on brutality=94

=93...Artist Robert Lederman, known for his posters depicting Giuliani as
Hitler, told the commission he=92s been arrested 37 times without being
tried. He said he=92s been harassed for his art, and that the arresting cops
have admitted, =93they are just following orders=94.]

Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists=92 Response To Illegal
State Tactics) (718) 369-2111

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