Robert A. Lederman, the president of the Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics, was arrested this Saturday for the 42nd time, this time for selling his wares on the High Line.
He was arrested at around 3:30 p.m. around the West 14th Street section of the High Line. There were five summonses issued for his arrest, of which 2 were criminal. The criminal summonses were for disorderly conduct and failure to comply with officers. The other summonses were for vending without a park permit and failing to have his display comply with required permit and unauthorized vending.
The artist constantly uses the First Amendment to challenge the city’s restrictions on artists who want to publicly sell their works. Both state and federal courts already ruled in 2001 that the city could not require permits for artists in parks due to the First Amendment, thanks to Mr. Lederman bringing the case to their attention. Lederman has also been a plaintiff in a similar case that battled for artists’ rights to sell on the streets in 1997, arguing that if booksellers selling printed materials had long been exempt from licensing, artists should have the same protections.
When asked by the New York Times if he deliberately set out to get arrested, he said no, and mentioned that this was the first time he had been arrested during the Bloomberg administration. He did, however, get arrested 41 times during the Giuliani administration, because he liked to bait the mayor.