|Spike Polite & Sewage NYC (left to right, Spike Polite, "Stony" Tony Romano, Michelle Shocked)|
|Police and Parks Department personnel were on watch near the stage|
Flash was speaking of a legal battle he waged in the U.S. Southern District Court after the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation revoked his permits for political rallies and concerts following the controversy over a densely-packed event in Tompkins Square Park on April 24. On that afternoon, Flash and Cuzin Joe of Black N' Blue Productions presented several speakers plus performances by Madball, Agnostic Front, Bloodclot, Wisdom in Chains and the Capturers. Local politicians and media reported that the event drew thousands at a time when state regulations allowed outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people. They also charged that most attendees did not follow safety protocols. including the wearing of masks or social distancing, that park regulations were violated, including the prohibition of alcohol consumption, and that the event permit was improperly filed.
State Assembly member Harvey Epstein happened to walk through the park on April 24 and voiced his disapproval on his social media. The subsequent outrage in civic and media circles, perpetuated largely by people who were not present at the event, alarmed the higher authorities. The municipality responded to the commotion by insisting that Flash and Shadow Press would be denied permits for two years.
"We will not give up without a fight, I assure you," Flash told The Manhattan Beat on April 28.
|A masked fire breather joined Sea Monster for one song|
The attorney for Flash and Cuzin Joe fought the revocation of seven event permits for 2021 that were previously approved by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Three of the seven dates passed as Flash awaited the conclusion of the negotiations, litigations, arbitrations, or whatever it would take to get back on the permit calendar. On August 6, the day before the first of the two weekend shows scheduled in Tompkins Square Park, a federal judge signed a stipulation and settled the matter. The legal action reportedly cost Flash and Cuzin Joe about $10,000.
"If you have $$$$$ for lawyers, you too can fight the state for the protection of your civil liberties, including FREE SPEECH!" Flash posted on his social media.
|Jezo + the Element|
Flash resumed his 15-year series with what he called the Tompkins Square Park 33rd Annual Riot Reunion on August 7 and 8. Flash's intention was for this two-day political and musical event to remind the community about the police riot in the park on August 6-7, 1988. Flash and other speakers alluded to the riot in speeches between musical sets.
|Father Pat Maloney was among the speakers|
|Dancers in the audience|
The line-up for the rallies/concerts changed often in the few days before the weekend. Even as late as Sunday morning, bands were cancelling due to the threat of rain. Spike Polite & Sewage NYC, Sea Monster, Jezo Black + the Element, Skitzopolis, Les Bicyclettes Blanches, Val Kinzler and Jonny KT performed on Saturday, August 7. VindictA, Hot Knives, the Nihilistics, Ruckus Interruptus and Dutch Gutz performed on Sunday, August 8. Speakers and table volunteers included Father Frank Morales, Father Pat Maloney, journalist Paul DeRienzo, the Liberty Coalition/NY Medical Freedom Movement, the 9-11 Truth Movement, Save East River Park, and NY Harm Reduction Services. Both events began at 2 p.m. and ended at 6 p.m. with no incidents.
|Les Bicyclettes Blanches|
In accordance with his original permit schedule, Flash and Shadow Press will present additional rallies with live music in Tompkins Square Park on September 25 and October 30. Flash will announce the details on these events as the dates approach. As always, these events will be free to the general public.
"Three months and many thousands of dollars later, we finally retrieved what the parks department took from us without justification, simply because a low-life politician embarrassed the mayor and parks commissioner on Twitter after our April show in the park," Flash posted on social media.
"I am so awed by Chris Flash's tenacity," Michelle Shocked, bassist in Spike Polite & Sewage NYC, summarized at the end of the weekend.
The Manhattan Beat covers New York City's live music developments as they happen. All photographs are by Everynight Charley Crespo, except when noted otherwise. For a list of Manhattan venues that are presenting live music regularly, swing the desktop cursor to the right and click on the pop-up tab "Where to Find Live Music." For a listing of upcoming concerts for live audiences, visit The Manhattan Beat's August 2021 calendar.