[Hpn] ARTIST Lederman frames anti-homeless NYC Mayor Giuliani as
Dictator & Devil (fwd)
Dictator & Devil (fwd)
Sat, 20 Jan 2001 01:10:02 -0800 (PST)
Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists Response To Illegal
<ARTISTpres@aol.com> (718) 743-3722
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
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
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
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."
**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.**
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