translation: LEGAL WAITING ZONE: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WAIT HERE FOR A FRIEND, YOUR MOM, OR SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS TOO, HOT IN YOUR APARTMENT. Casale v. Kelly, 2009 WL 1159187 (S.D.N.Y., April 28, 2009).
When the Ghana ThinkTank Mobile Unit rolled into Corona for our show at the Queens Museum of Art, one of the first problems we received was that the police have been “harassing Latin American Immigrant workers on the street, especially all over Roosevelt Avenue… and using racial profiling to have an excuse to give them tickets.”
So, we sent this problem off to our think tanks, and started to look into the situation.
We attended a local NAACP meeting on Police Harassment in the neighborhood, researched the related efforts of the NYCLU and CCRB, and started canvassing Roosevelt avenue asking for more personal stories about being harassed on the street.
Most of the stories seemed to revolve around the “Loitering Law,” as it is popularly known, or Penal Law 240.35(3)
and Penal Law 240.35(7).
In a nutshell, this code makes it illegal to loiter for the purposes of prostitution, drug dealing, and selling without a permit. It also requires anyone waiting within a transit facility to give a reason for waiting. This code has been declared unconstitutional, and recently New York City has been held in contempt of court for continuing to apply this code. In fact, “in finding the city in contempt, the judge ruled that it would be fined $500 for every illegal summons it issues under the antiquated loitering law. Every three months after that, she wrote, the fine will increase by $500, with a maximum fine of $5,000 per summons.” (New York Times: City Is Held in Contempt on Loitering, by JOHN ELIGON, April 26, 2010)
And above all of that, none of the reasons people gave for “loitering” also known as “waiting,” were in violation of this unconstitutional penal code!
Well, the solutions started to roll in, and we soon found ourselves establishing “Legal Waiting Zones” in places where it should already be legal to wait.
Here are some photos from our first test, by Corona Plaza.
It definitely garnered attention. As every subway car crowd unfurled down the steps, the conversation would begin again. “What do they mean Legal Waiting Zone? We can wait where we want!” And it was interesting to see how some people carefully chose to wait just outside the bright green line…
Official-looking municipal signs are on the way for part 2…