NYC blocked protests in Central Park

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City played an active role in blocking protests in Central Park in 2004, and did so for purely political reasons, documents in a lawsuit filed by the National Council of Arab Americans and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition show.

Those documents, which include internal e-mail messages and depositions in the court case, show that Mr. Bloomberg’s involvement in the deliberations over the protests may have been different from how he and his aides have portrayed it. They also suggest that officials were indeed motivated by political concerns over how the protests would play out while the Republican delegates were in town, and how the events could affect the mayor’s re-election campaign the following year.

The absurd reason given at the time was the protestors might harm the grass on the lawn. No, I am not making this up….

From the Partnership for Civil Justice, who has all the documents online.

The City of New York, and the corporate sponsors of the private Central Park Conservancy, refused to allow the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) and the ANSWER Coalition to use that same space for a peaceful family-oriented assembly and rally in support of civil rights and liberties, even though the size of the proposed event was within the government’s claimed capacity of the Great Lawn and equal or less than the size of allowed corporate sponsored events.

These wealthy individuals and corporations, acting through the private “Central Park Conservancy,” assert that certain political assembly on the Great Lawn would harm their investment in the park because it would constitute unacceptable wear and tear on the grass and is incompatible with the purposes of public parkland. Apparently, it is the content of the speech that determines the likelihood of injury to the grass.

This was a politically motivated attack on freedom of speech and assembly engineered by the mayor and others, trying to stifle dissent during the 2004 RNC protests. Apparently the billionaire mayor thinks freedom of speech only applies to the wealthy and to those whose politics he approves of. Just another loathsome freedom-hating Republican, eh?