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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle) (162* d) RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers 14 May 10


Howard, NW Folklife isn't claiming the right determine "when" performers can play on the grounds. Thank goodness for that! That would be yet another law suit!

They are claiming that they have the right to dictate "where" performers can play on the grounds. This issue is where the forked tongue of those who would, as you put it, "claim the right" to determine such, really shows off their double standard.

As I described in my previous post, vendors are not harassed by the NW Folklife's private security for creating access or safety issues, not ever. Nor are they intimidated, demonized, threatened, or evicted from the grounds using police force for creating these issues, and they constantly create these conditions via their activities during this event. However, let a performer of folk music do what it is that they do at this event, set up underneath or even near a covered walkway and they are pounced upon by that same private security force, verbally threatened, harassed, intimidated, and ultimately the police are called to have them escorted from the grounds. This is, quite simply, a case of the haves vs. the havenots. We have the right to be there and they are claiming that we have not.

Why do they favor the vendors at this event and ignore their transgressions of access and safety? Because the vendors pay $Do$ $Re$ $Mi$. Because we don't have to pay to play in public, NW Folklife has determined that the best way to sidestep those First Amendment rights, so they can harass us with impunity, is to demonize our activities as the issue to be controlled. In the art of prestidigitation, this is called distraction. NW Folklife sees our activities, playing music acoustically in this public park, as being a bother to all of the business that they are profiting by via this event. That's why they want to control our activities.

It is that double standard, between those who pay to vend on public property and those merely exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of expression by playing folk music in the park, for the enjoyment of all, on this national holiday, Memorial Day weekend, when we honor those who have fought and died to protect this way of life, that is the very core of the issue.

They have no right, within the law, to deny First Amendment rights to anyone. They are acting illegally by denying me or anyone else of their constitutional rights under the law.

The law suit brought against the city of Seattle and those running the Seattle Center last June was specific in stating that neither the city nor the private company hired by the city to run the Seattle Center has the right to ask anyone to obtain a permit, much less charge anyone for a permit to exercise the right to freedom of expression in a public space.

I would say that the event organizers have shot themselves in the foot with regard to how loud acoustic acts have interfered with amplified staged presentations. They have, for years, done nothing to curb or otherwise address the issue of the loudest acts on the grounds, drummers and others. Addressing that single concern would have helped the interference of those acts with staged presentations. That's their problem.

One year, while I was on stage playing, a whole troop of Morris dancers and their various instrumentation decided to start performing nearby. The stage had amplification but even that was not adequate against the number of performers in that troop. I'm a solo act. I muscled through my performance but I did mention it from stage. I don't think that anything was done to dissuade them.

Safety and access reasons have NOTHING to do with the reasons why NW Folklife wants 15% of what might end up in a street performers hat. Neither do safety or access concerns have anything, whatsoever, to do with NW Folklife deciding to charge a fee to street performers. They have no right under the law to do this.


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