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June 7, 2010 / Downtown / Perspective / The Politicrasher

Potty pooper! Hate-spreading homophobe is barred from Borough Hall bathroom!

The Brooklyn Paper
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The public bathrooms inside Borough Hall are no longer available for the people’s business — thanks to a homophobic street preacher’s vile screeds and a police officer who apparently believes that it’s her job to shred the First Amendment.

Like all members of the public and the vendors outside Borough Hall, Brother J.J. Richardson was long allowed to use the bathrooms on the ground floor of the borough’s seat of power.

But Richardson, who sells Bibles when he’s not handing out homophobic, hate-filled pamphlets, says he was banned from seeking relief because his writing offended the police officer at the entrance desk.

To cover her tracks, there is now a sign saying that the bathrooms are closed to the public — but this reporter, and a trash collector, plus other vendors had no problem passing the cop’s litmus test the other day.

“She’s selective in who she lets in,” said another vendor, Aaron Harding, who sells clothing and other fabrics.

Yes, Richardson’s leaflets are appalling by most civilized standards — and can’t be reprinted here — but the First Amendment guarantee of free speech means nothing if the person making the speech is punished for it, especially by a government officer! That’s the point of the amendment in the first place — to bar government from “abridging the freedom of speech.” Courts have consistently knocked down government efforts to curtail one kind of speech, yet not other equally vile beliefs.

Yet this cop, who would only tell me her surname — Gibson — has apparently shredded the Bill of Rights in the name of keeping a hate-filled preacher off Borough Halls porcelain throne.

It all reminds me of a twisted take on Samuel 8:18: “You will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

Richardson said that his cries for relief were first rebuffed by Officer Gibson at Borough Hall on April 2. He nearly stained his pants with hellfire and brimstone, but fortunately made it to the Court Street Starbucks on time.

He quickly figured out that Gibson was barring only him, and turned his literary wrath against her. That’s when the sign barring everyone went up.

A spokesman for Borough Hall directed all inquiries to Citywide Administrative Services and the NYPD. Citywide Administrative Services declined to comment and the NYPD was unable to respond to my inquiry before my ever-urgent online deadline.

For her part, Gibson wouldn’t confirm any beef with Richardson — or anyone else.

“[The bathroom] has always been closed to the public, but we extended a courtesy,” said Gibson.

But it’s not her “courtesy” to extend.

Wherever there is a smoke-filled backroom or a smoke-free barroom, The Brooklyn Paper’s Politicrasher will be there, bringing you the inside dope on our next generation of leaders. Got a hot tip for the Politicrasher? E-mail Newsroom@BrooklynPaper.com.
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Reader Feedback

PJ from WT says:
Maybe the officer is attempting to prevent the unwarranted, unprovoked harassment of other people who just want to use the bathroom and then leave without being accosted and without feeling threatened that they may become the victim of a hate crime.
June 7, 2010, 1:37 am
disgusted american from brooklyn says:
how would that "supposed' brother/pastor whatever the hell he is,like it if someone handed out anti-Black pamplets? These people make me sick....its the usual "I got my rights, now let me trample on the rights of others" BS! Hey buddy...40yrs ago- you had to use a seperate bathroom altogether..but seems you forgot THAT.
June 7, 2010, 8:18 am
al pankin from downtown says:
keep the Jackasses out !
June 7, 2010, 1:29 pm
bob from bklyn hts says:
did this "preacher" [allegedly] deface the bathroom?
June 7, 2010, 2:25 pm
Native Son from Clinton Hill says:
The Borough Hall Bathroom has been "officially" closed to the public for over 2 yrs. People who need to use facilities have been directed to the bathroom in the basement of Municipal Bldg across the street. The Men's bathroom is frequently dirty and not well maintained. I have observed people hanging out in the bathroom and openly masterbating. Apparently the authorities know this because they now place a guard downstairs who lets people into the multi-urinal and stalled bathroom one at a time. In addition, you have to go through a metal detector in order to even gain entry into the building. At Boro Hall, you can use the bathroom if you are attending a function there, if you ultilize the Borough Hall Tourist Shop, or if the officer on duty sees fit to let you use it (if you ask nicely.) My contention is that Borough Hall is a public Building and anyone should be able to use it. I usually don't have bad things to say about Marty Markowitz, but this is not one of the hallmarks of his administration.
June 7, 2010, 5:08 pm
Native Son from Clinton Hill says:
Btw, I do find the antics of the itinerant "preacher" reprehensible. My contention is that the Boro Hall bathroom should be open to the public. Unfortunately, it should be also be open to people who use vile and discriminate language, according to the first amendment. Although if I were that police officer, I probably would have denied him entry as well.
June 7, 2010, 5:14 pm
John from East Williamsburg says:
He should be forced to use it even if he doesn't want to and he should be flushed down it with his pamphlets and books.
June 8, 2010, 12:28 pm
John from East Williamsburg says:
He should be required to expel his fecal waste products from his vile mouth opening as it spews vitriol and rancid hatred from his poisoned brain stub.

Also, "Brother" J.J. "Dyn-o-mite" Richardson should not be permitted to eat if he does not find legitimate employment. His presence at Borough Hall is a symptom of crippling mental illness.

It is outrageous that taxpayers are forced to subsidize his antics. Also, it should not be illegal to kill him.
June 9, 2010, 9:54 am
Patrique from Park Slope says:
I'm not surprized that this outspoken homophobe wants to spend his free time cruising the public toilets.
June 10, 2010, 9:14 am
@NiteStar from Westchester County says:
The First Amendment does NOT guarantee the freedom of speech universally and in all circumstances. Freedom of speech is NOT an absolute freedom; most civilized governments recognize the limitations that may be placed up on it -- usually when it conflicts with other values.

For example, the First Amendment does not protect statements that are uttered to provoke violence or incite illegal action (Clear and Present Danger). Many forms of hate speech, including homophobic speech, fall into this category. If a new agency is unable to reprint the information contained in the literature that this person disseminates, then perhaps it is because of this very reason.

For more information about the First Amendment and limitations on the Freedom of Speech, please visit this web site article: http://bit.ly/ckUojm
June 11, 2010, 5:55 am
Patrique from Park Slope says:
@Nitestar -
I'm sorry, but you are going a bit overboard. People have the right to express their views even if we disagree with them. Just because you don't like what he is saying doesn't mean that he can't say it. Inciting violence is illegal in it's own right and has nothing to do with so-called hate crimes, and it certainly shouldn't affect whether or not he can use the toilet. I mean, I really don't like what he is saying and I thinkhe is a bit of jerk, but if other members of the general public can use the toilet, so can he. Criminals also use the toilets in the court - people on trial for breaking the law. If you think that what he is distributing is an incitement to violence, then that should be addressed in the correct way - not by punishing him in another way. Our personal feelings shouldn't impinge on the liberty of others.
June 11, 2010, 6:08 am
John from East Williamsburg says:
This is not a free speech issue. No one is preventing the garbage from speaking. It has been politely refused access to a non-public bathroom. It has no constitutional right to use that bathroom.

It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.
June 11, 2010, 9:36 am
Curious from Park Slope says:
"Our personal feelings shouldn't impose on the liberty of others." True - which is why a person should be able to utilize a toilet without another person two inches (or two feet) from his/her face telling him/her the error of their ways and how s/he can be saved. To each his or her own religious beliefs. Aggressive proselytizing = harassment of passive citizens. So the question is: Did the Rev. use the bathroom as a bathroom and leave or did he use it as a platform with which to harass others?
June 12, 2010, 3:51 pm

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