Before we left Brooklyn for Tampa, we had the usual jitters: Do we have all the equipment? Will everything work? Is everything correctly organized? And then… we started hearing stories about Isaac heading for Florida…
We thought we would be taking Tampa by storm, but instead Hurricane Isaac’s taking us. What followed next was ever growing anxiety of how we could install this piece in pouring rain and 25 mph winds.
Of course the first idea, why not try to move the event by a day? Not the easiest thing to do. The city of Tampa had in place a very rigid permitting procedure, plus they hadn’t shown much flexibility.
But it was worth a try. Still it wasn’t amounting to much. Then we thought, “Isn’t this a matter of protected speech?” We had been compliant with the city in applying for permits and had shown due diligence in submitting all the information they required.
Didn’t the city owe us at least the flexibility to waive their permitting process, due to an act of DOG? We thought so.
Talking to our friends at NCAC, we got in touch with the ACLU in Florida. Mike Pheneger, the President of the FL ACLU called us and contacted the City’s Attorney on our behalf. Mr. Pheneger was able to convince him to let us move the unveiling of Morning In America to tomorrow morning. A great relief.
The difficulties of negotiating space and safeguarding civil liberties during political events like the conventions are increasing. Tampa is garroted with fences along major streets to restrict traffic and pedestrians.
So, this piece is not just about the Middle Class disappearing, it’s also a monument to Free Speech, let’s hope these rights never disappear!