Robert Lederman, president of the street artists rights group A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists Response To Illegal State Tactics) was arrested on the 14th Street section of the Highline Park on Saturday, at approximately 3:30 PM. Lederman was issued 5 summonses, handcuffed and taken to the 6th Precinct by PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) officers, after employees of the Highline Park called police. This is Lederman's 42nd arrest.
Lederman was on the Highline displaying and selling original fine art prints of his NYC scenes. Between 1994 and 2001 Lederman won 5 Federal lawsuits on street artists First Amendment rights. Among them was a 2001 Federal Appeals court ruling (Lederman et al v Giuliani), which established that visual artists can sell in any NYC park without a license or Parks permit, based on First Amendment freedom of speech.
Summonses were issued for the following: Vending without a Park permit; failure to comply; disorderly conduct; failure to comply with directions of officers and unauthorized vending.
Lederman was released from the 6th Precinct around 6:30 PM and made the following statement:
"The Parks Department has done a very poor job of educating their employees about the legal issues involving First Amendment rights, artists and parks. Before any of these summonses were issued or any arrest was made I repeatedly explained to Highline employees and PEP officers that a court order was in effect and that artists freely and legally sold in all NYC Parks without a license or permit. I also showed them articles from the NY Times and NY Post describing this exact court order.
The wealthy people who paid to create the Highline seem to have forgotten that it is still a public park. The US Constitution remains in effect there, as do the street artists rights described in numerous 2nd circuit Federal Court orders. These court orders are constantly being violated by the Parks Department. This is a blatant example of contempt of court, false arrest and chilling of free speech in the name of privatization."
Street artist Federal court rulings
NY Times on Parks Dept artist permit ruling
NY Post on street artist Federal Court ruling
NYC Park Advocates