Why Do Vendors Get Tents in Parks and Not Occupy Wall Street?

Protest art!

Robert Lederman, a crusading artist and a bit of crank who was a frequent antagonist of Mayor Giuliani, thinks the Bloomberg administration is being two-faced in expelling the Occupy Wall Street protestors tents from Zuccotti Park. He points to tents set up for holiday markets as the unjust, commercial expropriation of public space.

The holiday vendors have permits, of course, and a portion of their proceeds goes to the parks they occupy, so there appears to be a public good here, whatever your opinion of overpriced tchokes. Mr. Lederman has his own agenda, as he has run afoul of the city for trying to sell art in parks without permits. Still, his thoughts, which he just emailed around, are intriguing in light of last night’s events.

Mayor Bloomberg claims that tents are not allowed in NYC parks. Ask him to explain the giant tents being set up right now in Union Sq Park and in Central Park at Columbus Circle for the corporate run Holiday vending Markets. These tents are set up for more than a month straight, 24 hours a day. They completely displace pedestrians, residents and park visitors for a fee of millions of dollars.

Mayor Bloomberg says generators are not allowed in NYC parks, yet the Holiday Markets operate huge generators as do most of the Greenmarket vending stands in Union Sq Park. There is even a weekly Greenmarket set up right outside the Mayor’s office with huge tents and generators.

Mayor Bloomberg says protestors cannot sleep in parks, yet he allows more than 100 homeless people to sleep in Union Sq Park every night. Instead of pretending that the Mayor is a defender of free speech, perhaps the media can ask him to explain these totally inconsistent policies.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC Why Do Vendors Get Tents in Parks and Not Occupy Wall Street?