"We make our own rules down here"...former St. Augustine city prosecutor
Election time is coming up here for our city commissioners. We've heard that a couple of the candidates have expressed a desire that the city be more "artist friendly". Time and again we hear of those that feel the artists, musicians, bead stringers, craftspersons etc. could have a juried system set up and a market could be established in a designated public place and perhaps have a lottery for those spaces. Artist friendly...right? No.
We have tried to be clear about our endeavors to stand up for artist's rights as recognized by the Federal courts. Public space has been the traditional forum for freedom of expression in America. Do we believe in "rules"? Of course we do. Reasonable time, place and manner regulations are necessary to maintain an orderly aesthetic. The key word is "Reasonable". Art is speech. Artist's rights are also your rights.
Here we have an interview with Robert Lederman, an advocate for street artists, freedom of speech and open public spaces. Robert sued the city of New York to strike down permit requirements for artists in public spaces. His case went to the Supreme Court and is cited in many free speech cases. Robert explains our stance very succinctly.
Very Soon this issue will be in the National spotlight. Our city will be known as America's Oldest Police State. Watch what is going to happen. Passivity is over. Most of us are members of A.R.T.I.S.T. Artists in N.Y.C., Reno, Nev, Boston, Chicago , Venice Beach, CA are our brothers and sisters in this battle and we communicate. Perhaps you city officials here in St. Augustine should be contacting you counterparts in those cities. Ask em in Reno, Nevada and other cities how their attempts at stifling free speech worked for them. Link.
You have the police and their handcuffs. You have the jails. You have your hired "constitutional expert". Your offers of unacceptable alternative spaces and your wholesale purchases from selected artists in our grooup are seen for what they are...transparent shams.
You continue violate the law and we will do our utmost exposing these gross violations to the public. We may well end up being just one old Rottweiler and a grizzled white haired eccentric but keep sending the cops and we''ll provide the prisoner.(but he'd rather not go)
In preparation of a Federal lawsuit our attorneys have asked (under the Sunshine Law) for materials pertinent to the passage of the November 07 ordinance which bans us from the historic districts. Hopefully this is done in a timely fashion so that we can get on with our day in Federal court. We do not have confidence that we get justice in the St. Johns County court system.