He’s no longer a friend of the High Line.
Brooklyn-based artist and vendor Iddi Amadu, 52, has decided to sue the iconic park over an incident in which he claims a paid maintenance employee, Kenya Robinson, 32, beat him in the head with a walkie-talkie.
Mr. Amadu has filed a notice of claim with the city Comptroller’s office, intending to sue Friends of the High Line as well as the city and the parks department for financial compensation for his wounds as well as his damaged artwork.
The Friends of the High Line claim the incident in question did not occur as Mr. Amadu described it, however, Mr. Amadu’s attorney claims there is video evidence.
“There was a video camera aimed right at the elevator where the assault took place,” Mr. Amadu’s lawyer, Julie Milner, told The Observer.
We reached out to Friends of the High Line to obtain said footage, but they have yet to respond.
“It’s gonna look really bad if that tape disappears,” said Ms. Milner.
The incident in question transpired on December 14, 2012, at around 5 p.m. as Mr. Amadu, who has been painting and selling his artwork at the park for almost a year now, was waiting for the elevator at West 16th Street. Mr. Robinson allegedly blocked his path to the elevator and struck him twice in the face with a walkie-talkie after ruining his still-wet artwork. Mr. Amadu said he was left to wait for an ambulance in a pool of his own blood.
According to the claim, the only help he received was a kick in the leg from an NYPD officer who told him to “get up, and go home.” That same officer told Mr. Amadu to “be a man.”
“They treated him like garbage,” Ms. Milner, said to The Observer.
Although no charges were brought against him, the artist, who immigrated from Ghana, West Africa in 1979, “spent over three hours in handcuffs, received ten stiches, and suffers from headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, fever and trauma.”
The alleged assailant, Mr. Robison was eventually arrested and charged with assault in the third degree.
“We dispute Mr. Amadu’s account of the incident,” said spokesperson for Friends of the High Line, Kate Lindquist, said in a statement. “We expect all facts to come out in the course of our review, which we will not comment on out of respect for the process.”
Mr. Amadu said that the incident came to a head after of months of repeated harassment. The First Amendment ensures artists’ rights to sell their work in all public arenas.
“They don’t want the artists there,” Mr. Amadu told A Walk in the Park. ”They make it like they are doing us a favor. We have a right to be there.”
He said that the staff of the park treat him like “a simple bum.”
Mr. Amadu mentioned to The Observer that maintenance staff members have taken to scaring his customers away and making rude gestures toward him. He claims he has even been propositioned to fight.
“They have no right, they have no authority,” he said. “The only people who have authority are the park officers and the police officers.