Sunday, June 12, 2016
“More Hump, Less Trump,” World Naked Bike Ride Visits Trump Tower. #Trump
Photos by Minister Erik R. McGregor
For the seventh year in a row, the New York World Naked Bike Ride. We met in Brooklyn. But the focus of the ride was getting to 56th and 5th Avenue, the site of the Trump Tower. There the city has been investigating whether Trump is in violation of his agreement with the city by closing the tower from the public for his own campaign events in violation of his own agreement with the city.
Photos by Minister Erik R. McGregor
The Trump Tower is a Privately Owned Public Space. During the 1970’s, Trump made an agreement with the city that for increased height and bulk for the space, meaning twenty extra floors, the Atrium would need to be open to the public. It can only be closed four times a year.
According to Jerold S. Kayden’s Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, The New York City Department of City Planning, and the Municipal Art Society of New York (John Wiley & Sons 2000):
“The covered pedestrian space at Trump Tower is simultaneously New York City’s most famous and least understood privately owned public space. Most famous, because everyone has heard of it. Least understood, because few New Yorkers appreciate that this space is legally required to be open and accessible to the public. The developer Donald Trump obtained zoning floor area bonuses in return for the covered pedestrian space and two outdoor landscaped terraces on upper floors, as well as for additional retail space. In short, this unabashed, unapologetic, and by any crowd measure popular celebration of commerce is a product of public, as well as private, entrepreneurial esprit.”
Yet, as Greg Smithsimon and I point out in the Beach Beneath the Streets: Contesting New York’s Public Spaces, many buildings with POPS fail to live up their obligations to make their spaces feel accessible or open to the public.
Riding over to the space, the Public Space party meandered through McClaren Park, across the new bike path on the Pulaski and Queensboro Bridges into Manhattan, where we rode across town to 5th Avenue.
At Trump Tower, we unfolded two signs. One declared, “Public Space” and another with the words, “No More Erections” on one side and “Gardens are the Future of Cities” on the other side. Everyone knows buildings are erections. The buildings protrude into the sky. And New York has too many of them. Lately, the city has seen a building boom which has witnessed widespread evictions and displacement, turning nursing homes into condominiums at Rivington House, evicting community gardens to create more of them. And regular New Yorkers are left without public spaces to congregate.
We carried our signs into the Trump Tower. There security guards told me I needed to put on a shirt to enter. I pointed out this is a Privately Owned Public Space (POP), open for multiple uses, including topless protests. I asked the security to point out the provision requiring we wear shirts in this POP. They could not because none exists.
As Kayden points out, “Required Hours of Access Covered Pedestrian Space, Passageway: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm; Landscaped Terraces: open during store hours.”
Norman Siegel has long pointed out, the city cannot impose multiple prohibitions on first amendment activity in public spaces such as this.
In other words, just as you can’t be kindov pregnant, you cannot kindov have a first amendment right to speak out in public space, or go topless, or have a conversation about that public space.
Trump Tower security guards need to follow the law not trump doctrine. No one is above the law. public space for the people.
Our democracy depends upon public spaces where we can meet to share ideas, disagree and not need to worry about being evicted for a political disagreement.
Without these public spaces, questions about democracy basically go out the door.
By closing Trump Tower for his own campaign events, evicting people at any given time as Trump has done repeatedly, Trump has shown his contempt for the laws of the New York City. And if he cannot support the laws of New York City, how can he be entrusted with protecting the constitution?
This is where the security come in. As we opened our “Public Space” banner in the atrium, the police and security converged on us, telling us to leave. At this point, Joe Sharkey noted people have rights to be here and asked the police for a copy of the ordinance stating the public cannot be in this space. Security could not. Eventually the police, physically pushed Sharkey and company out of the space. (They were later overheard regretting they had physically pushed him out of the space.
Minister Erik R. McGregor observed, “Mr Sharkey pointed the violation of his rights and challenged NYPD Counterterrorism officer Howell (badge 26510) as well as the Trump Tower security to cite a city ordinance stating he can not use the public space. — in New York, New York.
Minister Erik R. McGregor observed, “Unable to cite a city ordinance stating he can not use the public space, NYPD Counterterrorism officers Chin (badge 16062) and Howell (badge 26510) phisically assaulted Mr Sharkey by pushing him while he stated he did not consent to be touched at Trump Tower in Fifth Avenue —New York, New York.”
Minister Erik R. McGregor observed “Mr Sharkey pointed the violation of his rights and challenged again NYPD Counterterrorism officers Chin (badge 16062) and Howell (badge 26510) to cite a city ordinance stating he can not use the public space. Unable to cite a city ordinance stating he can not use the public space, NYPD Counterterrorism officer Howell (badge 26510) phisically assaulted Mr Sharkey again by pushing him while he stated he did not consent to be touched outside Trump Tower in Fifth Avenue — in New York, New York.”
Standing outside the Atrium where we were evicted below a sign stating open to public 8AM to 10 PM, we pointed out that this is more privatizing profits. Trump has frequently made use of public space for his own private gain. Yet, democracy needs openness, not security evicting people whose ideas or dress they disagree with.
Public Space for the people. We have to use it or we’ll lose it.
Outside the space, Sharkey explained that the NYPD does not make up the laws. They are here to protect and serve, not evict, or assault the people.
Still the ride was a blast. Everyone enjoyed fighting for their right to public space all day long.
Thumbing for a ride in Queens.