Brooklyn Bridge Park officials slapped themselves on the wrist this week after they errantly tried to kick a couple of permit-wielding art vendors out of the waterfront development.
Artists E.K. Buckley and Sarah Valeri went viral with a video they shot during the DUMBO Arts Festival last Saturday, which shows Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer demanding that they leave Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street — even though they had a state permit to set up their table and sell their First Amendment-protected art on park land.
In the recording, Myer claims that she set up her own laws regarding vendors in the city-owned, $350-million park, and that the hipsters would need to get special permission to erect the table.
“You mean, your park laws that are superseding state and city government law?” Buckley asks Myer in the six-minute clip.
Myer replies: “Yep.”
Buckley and Valeri refused to leave, however, prompting security and other park officials to get involved. Myer and park security officers made calls and continued to “bully” the artists to leave their post, but after a few hours, security officials came to a conclusion: Myer was wrong.
“We got it sorted out … but what the hell — we didn’t go out there that day as a legal demonstration, but only to sell some artwork during an art festival,” wrote cameraman Chris Johnson on one of the Buckley’s blog. “Boiled down, they tried to bully us out of our rights.”
Eventually, officers allowed them to set up and sell their wares, which include Buckley’s haunting portraits. The security detail cited city law, which states that expressive matter like art, photography, reading material and sculpture can be sold in parks with the right permits.
Myer, after taking flak for the debacle, released a statement this week admitting her mistake.
“It is the intent of Brooklyn Bridge Park to create and maintain a democratic public space in which the rights of expression of the individual are [protected],” Myer wrote. “Brooklyn Bridge Park will comply with these new rules.”