[Hpn] ARTIST Lederman frames anti-homeless NYC Mayor Giuliani as Dictator & Devil (fwd) Dictator & Devil (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 20 Jan 2001 01:10:02 -0800 (PST)

Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists Response To Illegal State Tactics) <ARTISTpres@aol.com> (718) 743-3722 http://Baltech.org/lederman/spray/ http://www.openair.org/alerts/artist/nyc.html FWD found 18 Jan 2001 via Usenet with no cited date or source [sorry]: A THORN IN THE MAYOR'S SIDE By Merle English - STAFF WRITER HE'S BEEN ARRESTED more than 40 times, and it's all Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's fault, complains Robert Lederman, a self-described street artist and activist who's made the mayor his target. Lederman takes great pleasure in painting portraits of Giuliani, depicting him as Satan or Hitler to protest his policies, most lately against the homeless. His artistry shows up on posters and on placards carried by people demonstrating against incidents that have galvanized city residents, including the attack on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by police at Brooklyn's 70th Precinct, the death of Amadou Diallo at the hands of police in the Bronx and the mayor's recent crackdown on homeless people. The former Queens resident, who lived in Kew Gardens during the 1980s before moving to Brooklyn, said he believes he and his drawings irritate the mayor, and he expects to be a thorn in Giuliani's side for a long time. Since the age of 12, Lederman, now 49, has been earning his living peddling his paintings of street scenes and homeless people. He became the mayor's nemesis in 1994 when artists were being arrested, he said, for selling their art in the streets without a license. "The artists all pretty much knew each other, and we decided we had to fight this policy. We got together in somebody's house and formed the Artists Response to Illegal State Tactics, and I was elected president." The group won a lawsuit against the mayor and the city that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. "It is now legal for anybody to sell art on the street without a license," Lederman said. "The mayor began coming after me in a very concerted way." His 40 arrests - on such charges as unlawful vending, unauthorized posting, disorderly conduct, inciting to riot, resisting arrest, carrying a tape recorder and obstruction of governmental administration - have been carried out mostly by police captains or members of the New York Police Department Intelligence division, according to Lederman, and on orders from Giuliani, he said he believes. "I've been arrested sometimes with the mayor right there, at town hall meetings. He had me arrested for holding up a sign across the street from him when he got into his car." The arrests are "just a way to put me through the system," Lederman said. "I've had a history of going through this with Giuliani. I've never been found guilty. Every case against me has been dismissed." Often, he said, the charges are frivolous. "I was arrested once when I asked a police officer why she was writing a ticket for someone else. I've been charged with resisting arrest for taking a photograph of cops while they were arresting me for unlicensed vending during a protest at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the spring last year." He was most recently collared at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on Oct. 22, for disorderly conduct. He was there to make comments about the controversial show, "Sensation." "I came there to talk to the media. I have this long experience of him censoring art, my art. About 15 reporters came up to me. I began to give them a statement. I spoke to them for about two minutes before I was handcuffed and taken to the precinct. They claimed I jumped over a police barricade. Total fabrication. I didn't jump over anything. I was right on the sidewalk." The charge was dropped, he said. A spokesman for the New York City Police Department wouldn't verify Lederman's arrests. Brenda Perez, a spokeswoman for the mayor, acknowledged that City Hall was aware of his activities but she did not offer any comment on his targeting the mayor. In recent protests at City Hall Park advocating for the homeless, Lederman injected a satirical comment to his demonic portrayals of the mayor by adding statements he said Giuliani has made: "I'm just trying to help homeless people," and, "I care about people." Homelessness is a condition that Lederman has experienced, and he can empathize with those who refuse to leave the streets for shelters. "I myself was homeless on and off for brief periods of time in the '80s," he said. "I slept on New York City streets in the depth of winter. Like many people I found a cardboard box more attractive than going to the city's dangerous and degrading homeless shelters. I never panhandled. I lived by selling my artwork on the sidewalk for whatever I could get. When the police would confiscate my art, I'd sell old clothes or books I found in the garbage alongside hundreds of other homeless men and women vendors. "In my experience, homeless people are no crazier or violent or addicted to drugs than the rest of the city's residents," Lederman said. "Some are amazingly resourceful in the struggle for survival, eking out a living from the debris of other people's lives. Some are among the most patient, helpful and tolerant people I've ever met. "It's easy to look down on the homeless if you have an apartment and a job," Lederman said. "For those with a suburban estate and a driveway full of fancy cars, the homeless seem like another species. Many of those who live on the streets once had a job, a family, a car and a nice home. For many New Yorkers, losing a job, getting injured, growing old, a divorce or becoming depressed could land them on the street in a short time." Nonetheless, what he considers hounding by the mayor has its benefits. "He's my greatest press agent," Lederman said. "Each time he has me arrested, most of the networks show my paintings of him for a news story." END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** ************************************************************ 9000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people INFO & to join/leave list - Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ************************************************************