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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 (Seattle) 22 May 10


Molly, thanks for the post and identifying yourself here. At The Mudcat Cafe some folks come by to spam in the threads and as such, it becomes a challenge to know for certain who is posting in a valid manner. After posting in this community for years, I and others here are naturally suspicious of those, who have no background with the site, entering into conversations without identifying themselves.

Daniel wanted to set up a meeting with me after the festival this year. That hardly helps the matter at hand, by talking about it after the event has already taken place. This event has had since last year in June, when Mike's case was won, to do something about this matter and the festival has apparently done nothing. Your rules have not been altered, in the least, to align with the decisions made by the Courts. I would say that the festival is dragging its feet.

Daniel wanted to invite me to be a part of the process of changing these rules. I explained that I did not enact them in the first place. You folks did that on your own. I think that it's your job to change them.

You make a mess of it and now you're asking me for my help to fix your mess!? This is sounding the Wall Street bailout all over again.

I also explained that I live an hour outside the city, a fact that you folks should also be aware of, since you have my address. The chore of getting in and out of the city can be a challenge for me for just that reason. Couple that distance, with the price of gas and my somewhat less than adequate vehicles and you might begin to understand my reluctance to simply sit around some meeting that might not guarantee me any results in return.

This is not just a concern to me but to quite a number of others, even though Daniel would have me believe that no one else is on my side regarding this issue. I know for a fact that anyone who has spent time in a uniform defending this country would disagree with that.

Daniel would also have me believe that this issue, my right to freedom of expression, is hardly worth fighting for and in his words, "you should choose your battles." Well, to that I would reply, that this battle is the one at my doorstep and I value my right to this freedom highly. I also believe that every American would agree with me. Our freedoms are not something that we want others to deny us.

I'd start with eliminating the $10 fee that you folks have deemed as necessary in order for folks to offer their Cds for sale on the grounds. Daniel said the city was demanding that we pay $20 for a temporary business permit to vend our recordings. If that's true, then why should the event then pile an additional fee of $10 on top of that?

Regarding your claim that I've not been talking about this to anyone until now, that is simply not true. If you'd like, I will send you every post that I've made online about my experience regarding what happened to me last year. I'll warn you in advance, there's a lot of reading ahead of you. I will also offer you a list of those who I have spoken with about this matter, it's a long list.

Regarding your or Daniel's unwillingness to discuss what happened to me last year, why would I believe that an event or those running it, that would allow to happen what happened to me last year, would be the least bit interested in hearing my side of that story? Your head of security was plenty willing to threaten me, verbally intimidate me, demonize me and bully me until he then decided that he had grounds to call for the police on me. He had no such grounds but nevertheless did so with impunity. He inflamed the situation to justify his actions.

Nothing that I did last year blocked traffic. Nor did I in any way create an unsafe situation for anyone. I complied fully with his directives. I wasn't even playing when he arrived. I even packed up my things after he told me that I could not perform under that covered walkway in the shade. The only reason that I was there was because it was hot and I didn't wish to be in the direct sunlight on such a warm day. Just before I arrived to play there, an entire band of about 15 performers were in the exact same location. They created an huge crowd that did, in fact, block all access to the area via their presence and nothing was done to deter their efforts in exactly the same location. Why was I being singled out?

The few folks that had gathered before me all attested that they were enjoying my performance. When I asked your head of security for directions as to where I could perform, he became unwilling to reply accept to say that I should move closer to the center of the event where the amplified stages were. Molly, why would I want to play acoustically next to an amplified stage? Is this the kind of solution you endorse?

When I asked him why he wasn't harassing another nearby performer playing in the same area, he replied in an angry tone, "This isn't about him! It's about you!" Please tell me Molly, how is it that this representative of the festival can regard my presence on the grounds, entertaining folks, at their behest, such an infraction as to be worthy of police intervention? I really want to know your answer to this question. I think that you should put a muzzle on your security force and tell them to stick to harassing pistol wielding park goers rather than pushing around folk musicians.

He pushed the letter of the rules by telling me that I could not perform beneath a covered walkway. I, at no time indicated, in any way, that I would continue to play there. Yet, the festival allows vendors set up and offer their arts and crafts beneath the same covered walkways. There, those vendors are allowed to cause such traffic issues with impunity but performers are demonized.

This is double standard has been going on for far too long. Performers are not the demons your security staff and your rules make us out to be and to treat us as such is demeaning and unjust. The rules in Mike's lawsuit with the city explicitly state that dictating where performers can perform on public property is unconstitutional. Telling performers that we cannot be within 30 feet of a gathered group of park goers is unconstitutional. Do you not understand the meaning of the word unconstitutional? It means illegal! This event is acting illegally by enforcing these rules. They are acting illegally by including them as directives to those of us who perform on the grounds of this public park. I don't know how much more plain that I can say this.

One year, I even had one of your security force try to demonize me for merely standing underneath a covered walkway with my instruments while it was raining. I asked him, "Do you see me performing here?" Then, another time, I had one of your security harass me for merely leaving my guitar case under the cover of one of the covered walkways while it was raining, as I played in the rain. Neither time was I creating any issue with traffic or safety. These security folks should be treating us with far more respect and not be looking for reasons to harass us every chance they get. They need to take a chill pill, get a life, and stop creating trouble, where there is none, to merely justify their presence.

Covered walkways are not this event's private domain in this "public" park. They are part of the "public" park too. The court was very clear on this matter. It has deemed the park a freedom of expression zone and beyond your control to restrict my actions as a performer, specifically with regard to where I can perform. Just as you have the right to set up your vendors under those covered walkways, we too have the right to perform under those same walkways. Yes, we do!

The district court struck down the attempt by the Seattle Center and the city of Seattle at trying to enact this sort of legislation and so did the appellate court. Are you trying to defend unconstitutional acts on Memorial Day weekend? Do you have no shame? How much more blood has to be spilled before the NW Folklife Festival is willing to grant Americans citizens their First Amendment rights during this national holiday???!!! This event is engaged in enforcing rules restricting our First Amendment rights, on Memorial Day weekend! Get your head out of whatever kind of hole you seem to have stuck it in. You have no legal basis for enacting these kinds of restrictions.

This holiday weekend is a time of remembrance for all Americans. A remembrance of those who have given their lives to protect OUR FREEDOMS. Among those freedoms is the freedom of expression. Are seriously telling me that this is something that I should wait to discuss with you, in some meeting, after the festival? Please enlighten me as to why I should wait for you to grant me my rights and freedoms???

My posts online are, in fact, an actual open dialog. Thanks for your participation. I AM taking issue with what you do. This is a meeting, now, not later, after the fact and I am talking with you. I am interested in helping you to see the error of your ways.

I'd say that my willingness to explain to the festival the fact that it is, in fact, engaged in illegal and unconstitutional activities IS actually benefiting both the festival and street performers. Why the festival seems blind to this fact is bewildering to me. Why this festival has been unwilling to act on that information, information that has been available since last June, is what is surprising to me and a host of others.


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