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BIDs vs.

Artists: The BIDs Legal Brief Filed Against Street Artists' Rights (see entire legal document attached to this cover note) Many artists find it hard to believe that NYC's BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) were the main source of the anti-street artist arrests that occurred from 1993 until 1997 and are the entire source of all of the recently proposed legislation aimed at destroying our rights. Enclosed is the 37 page amicus brief filed by the top BIDs in 1996 against street artists in Federal Court in the consolidated lawsuits, Bery/Lederman et al v City of NY. An amicus brief is a legal document filed in support of one side or another in a lawsuit by someone other than the plaintiff or defendant. In this case, the BIDs filed a brief supporting Mayor Giuliani's decision to deny street artists full First Amendment protection, so as to eliminate us from vending our art on NYC streets and in parks. The BIDs that signed on to this document (The Fifth Avenue Association BID, The Alliance for Downtown NY BID, The Madison Avenue BID, The Grand Central Partnership BID and The 34th Street Partnership BID) joined with the SoHo Alliance which is a landlord advocacy group that dominates SoHo politics. You will note that the territory of these same exact groups contained 99% of all the art galleries and art museums in NYC at that time. Their members are the biggest art collectors in the world and the first people to jump up to "defend" First Amendment rights. These same organizations hired a lawyer to claim that artists are not fully protected by the First Amendment; that fine art does not express ideas; that sidewalk art displays are like trash and garbage; and that our art was unworthy of being considered expressive. What they asked the court to rule - if it had worked - would have destroyed First Amendment protection for every artist, museum and art gallery in the US. That is how desperate they were (and still are) to destroy our rights. In this legal document you will find references to an earlier court ruling in the same lawsuit. Few artists realize that we initially lost our case in 1995. Federal Judge Miriam Cedarbaum ruled against us and against our rights but was later overturned by the Second Circuit Federal Appeals Court. That second ruling is why artists can sell on the street today. You might note that before becoming a Federal judge, Judge Cedarbaum was the legal counsel for the Museum of Modern Art. That same museum was started by David Rockefeller, who also started the BIDs. The BID he personally founded, The Alliance for Downtown NY BID, has been in the forefront of street artist persecution.