Monday, July 21, 2008

Permission To Speak ?

"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.


  1. Anonymous22 July, 2008

    Excellent! Thank you for posting this.

  2. Anonymous22 July, 2008

    Hidey ho Karl, Just got back from St. Petersburg Fla., where I spent 16 days in the county jail. I was playing my harmonica down town, when I was approached by an officer of the law , informing me that it is illeagle to play music on the streets of said city, and I could go to jail for doing so. I informed the officer that under the first ammendment I did have the right to play my music. We argued back and forth and I informed him that I thought he was a Dammed fool, and that I felt there was no differense between the cops and the crimenals in that either seemed to be willing to violate my constitutional rights. I was then aressted. When I went to court I found out that I was not charged with playing a harmonica in public, but I was charged with verbal assualt om a lawenforcement officer. I am now back in Tampa playing in Ybor city, where the public and the police dig a good sounding harmonica. I enjoyed viewing the tape of Mr. Ledderman. Keep on fighting the city. Hope the elections produce change in the citys' views concerning the street artists in St. Augustine. Your friend "Harp".

  3. Anonymous23 July, 2008

    Last Memorial Day my family was visiting my sister in beautiful St. Augustine. In the park we stopped to look at the colorful paintings. The artist was showing my five year old a painting of an octopus that she admired He gave her a postcard of the same.He signed it and she told him that she will keep it forever. This blogspot address was printed on the back.

    Moments later,two policemen approached,handcuffed the artist and put him in a police car. We were standing there and no explanation was given. My daughter was scared and started to cry so we left right away. She wanted to know if the artist was "bad".
    I asked a woman who had a store on the main street what was the problem and she told me that "It was probably drugs".I'm glad that I had this webpage to find out otherwise.
    I do not understand what is going on down there? Does anyone have an explanation for my daughter? (who has probably forgotten the whole thing by now)

  4. Anonymous26 July, 2008

    Dear Floridian: It is like this; The landlords that rent the shops to rich yankees,at a very steep price, so they can fleece the tourists, 5.00 icecream cones, 25.00 tee shirts, 50.00 hats ect. When the rich yankee carpet baggers see free men, like the artists selling their art in the plaza, with out paying through the nose, and at very affordable prices, it sticks in their craw. They use their leverage on the city government, whitch will do anything including violate the rights of others to appease the rich carpetbaggers. Hence forth , the arrests of the artists in the Plaza. That is why the carpetbagging shop owner you asked said it was probably drugs. They want to justify the arrest of artists. I hope this explains some of what is going down in St. Augustine today.