Dog Taken into Custody, Art Confiscated !
Last Saturday a cadre of armed uniformed St. Augustine Police swept through the Plaza threatening arrest of three artists if they did not pack up and leave the area. Why? The officers had a list of "approved"* visual art items and those vendors cited did not use traditional materials stated in city code. Suvo had previously sent a memo to the City attorney regarding the legitimacy of leather sculpture and tapestry as fully protected First Amendment art. The two city attorneys do not deign to respond to the street artists. Too bad. They could use a good lesson on the first Amendment and another primary lesson on art. Contrary to Mcluhan's maxim, the medium is irrelevant here but it is the message that the artist conveys. These are fully protected artworks under the First Amendment.
Readers of this blog from other cities and towns.............Where you live,do the police harass citizens in this fashion? We are at a loss as to why they do this to the local artists. We do not make much money (and we pay tax) so the local merchants bottom line cannot be affected by our presence.
To The City......From tourism point of view how do you feel about the fact that the tourists are watching this .........yes we will say it........ Nazi behaviour? Is there any concern that there will be another Celli vs St. Augustine case. This case is cited nationwide by law students when free speech issues arise. The city appeared ridiculously backward on the Gay Pride flag issue.It seems to be policy to violate citizens rights and pay a little bit when they sue. This pattern is noticed by others in the judicial field.
Suvo was asked to go to a recent city council meeting recently to express our concern over harassment. Not particularly eloquent or verbose that evening ( he was feverish and not well at all) he did ask the city to "Just stop it". It did not work and the police have dropped all semblance of civility, referring to a list* that they would not show us. We did see that "Barbie Dolls" is on the list of non approved art. For this, you have two full time attorneys in a town of 13000?
Taking an old man's thirteen year old dog............... confiscating art, handcuffing artists......SHAME ON YOU! City Commissioners , why do you permit this behaviour? Most of you have visited with us and bought art from us. Is this the City you want?