Cop to artists at park: You’re not in ‘free speech zone’

Marieke Warmelink and Domenique Himmelsback de Vries sit at a booth offering free help as part of the Art in Odd Places festival. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Marieke Warmelink and Domenique Himmelsback de Vries sit at a booth offering free help as part of the Art in Odd Places festival. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While Union Square Park is generally known as a mecca of free speech, whether it’s for protests, dancing Hare Krishnas or lone, boisterous characters who may or may not be performing, apparently, according to one police officer, not all of the park is zoned for said free speech.

Ed Woodham, the creator of the long-running Art in Odd Places festival, which takes place each October along 14th Street, said this year, he was made aware of a “designated free speech zone” in Union Square Park.

This was on Saturday, when a police sergeant made two of the participating artists get up from where they were sitting in the park at a small booth.

The reason, Woodham said he and the artists were told, was that they had to move to an area where free speech was allowed, which would be identified by a green coin on the ground.

Not knowing where this was, Woodham asked the cop, “Will you show it to me?” and said he was told in response, “Well, it’s really hard to find.”

Woodham added, “‘That’s why I asked you to show it to me.’ He couldn’t do it.”

Continue reading