Updated – In June of 2021, the City of New York, desperate to present ‘normalcy’ after the first wave of Covid, so wanting to project the image that the City was “back,” reached out to Kanami Kusajimi, an expressive dancer at Washington Square Park, to put forth the message: “No Stopping New York.” Mayor Bill de Blasio was still in office. The City did not pay her for appearing in what would become an ad featured citywide. A few months later, the NYC Police Department would begin to harass her, mostly for her small speaker used to project music while she danced. When the City of New York needed her, it was all good. Until it wasn’t.
For too long, independent artists at Washington Square Park have been over-enforced by the New York City Police Department and Park administration: issued summons, harassed, intimidated and ticketed for minor, often made up, offenses.
Remember the 2011 “Performance Crackdown” at the Park?
This has not gotten nearly as much attention as the 2011 Performance Crackdown at the park. Ah, the old days. It seems so long ago. Such different times. However, this performance crackdown – there was at least one other since 2011-2012 – has resulted in the artists putting forth a creative action and protest – organized by J. Eric Cook – on Sunday, July 30th at 6 p.m. I love that. That’s how it should be. We all remember the famous Folk Riot of 1961. We don’t want a riot, we just want creativity and artists to be able to present their art and music in Washington Square Park.
A side note: There are a few issues in play here at once. When former Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro instigated tables necessary for artists in 2014 (2015?) who previously displayed their wares on the ground, that actually commercialized the park more. That was not a positive thing. But that is separate from the issue of artists being over-enforced and harassed.
Join in support of Washington Square Park’s artists on Sunday, July 30th, 6 p.m. at the park.
Dancer used as poster girl for New York’s recovery repeatedly stopped from performing The Independent, September 10, 2021
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:
Performance Crackdown at the Park — Parks Commissioner says Bob Dylan Could Still Play at WSP; With New Rules, Is That even True? December 6, 2011
City Reverses Course on Performance Crackdown at Washington Square Park – No More Ticketing and Fining of “Entertainers and Buskers” May 10, 2012
60 Years Ago This Month, The 1961 “Folk Riot” at Washington Square Park Occurred April 28, 2021