Volume 17 • Issue 27 | Nov. 26 - Dec. 02, 2004


Editorial


Hudson Park money

Gov. George Pataki did the right thing Monday when he said the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation would provide money to build the Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park.

I jog by the river every day in Tribeca, isn’t the park already there?

Yes and no. The “temporary” park in the Tribeca section has become a permanent fixture in Lower Manhattan with groups like Manhattan Youth, the Downtown Boathouse and the River Project running excellent programs on Piers 25 and 26. But the park can be so much more. First off, if the L.M.D.C. provides enough money to the Hudson River Park Trust, the tiny stub called Pier 26 could be built 800 feet or so in the water and even Pier 25 may be extended out to about 1,000 feet, providing more desperately-needed open space Downtown. The plan includes trees, plantings, better play areas, lawns, a bird sanctuary. And if nothing is done the little space left on the piers will be lost like the rest of Manhattan’s rotting piers.

An investment of $70 million in the park – if that’s what it turns out to be – will come back to the taxpayers several times over in increased population and property values Downtown. We applaud Pataki’s decision on the park but implore him and the L.M.D.C. to begin a real conversation with the public as how best to spend the rest of the public money that the development corporation controls.


R.N.C. lawsuit should lead to answers

The filing of a class-action civil rights lawsuit over the handling of arrests of protesters — and non-protesters — during the Republican National Convention comes as little surprise. Although the Police Department did a good job of keeping the city safe during the convention, there was widespread criticism on how arrests were made, conditions of the holding area at Pier 57 — “Guantanamo on the Hudson” — and length of time arrestees were held.

In addition, the overly aggressive treatment of news photographers during the protest that we reported in September was a chilling indication that maybe some police officers did not want their actions to be documented.

Clearly, the method of sweeping up anyone near mass protests like the one near the World Trade Center site was problematic.

Although Paul Browne, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner of public information, was recently quoted saying the protesters’ pens at Pier 57 were clean and that old bus fluids were elsewhere on the pier, many protesters have reported otherwise.

Finally, the suspicion has not dissipated that the city intended to hold protesters longer than the generally accepted 24-hour limit. The offenses most of those arrested received — obstruction of governmental administration and parading without a permit — are akin to a traffic ticket in seriousness. They should have been released in two to four hours, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Many questions remain unanswered about policing during the convention. We support the filing of the lawsuit in that it will hopefully lead to a thorough investigation and airing of the issues surrounding what happened, to what extent constitutional rights were violated and, if so, how this can be avoided at future events in New York where mass dissent is expected.



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