Early this past Sunday evening, during the concert in Tompkins Square Park, police of the 9th Precinct slapped the concert organizers with a fine of $1500 for "sound levels that were above the permit's stated allowable levels." The Slacktivists will be protesting this ticket next month.
But the punk rockers weren't the only ones making loud music that day.
While most of the 9th Precinct's cops were distracted in the park, a small, socially conscious clothing boutique a couple blocks up 7th Street launched an unannounced concert of their own to accompany their sidewalk fashion show.
A band complete with big amps, electric guitars, and drums, played 80s tunes (Duran Duran, Journey) and TV theme songs (The Jeffersons), attracting 100 or so listeners, who filled the sidewalk and spilled into the street. Traffic had trouble getting through and old ladies with canes and walkers were forced into the street. Neighbors slammed their windows shut on the breezy, temperate day.
I spoke to one frustrated neighbor on the block who had phoned the 9th Precinct multiple times to complain about the blaring music and crowding. The cops had come by, but the band was between sets then.
"They said they couldn't do anything about it," said the neighbor, "because they didn't actually see the band playing," even though a DJ was still blasting music and the instruments were all set up. "I'm calling the cops again," he said. Telling the police "there's a very loud concert on 7th Street" only made them think of Tompkins Square Park.
When I came back through once more, during the band's second or third set, a pair of cops appeared. They waved their arms, cutting off "Sweet Child O' Mine," and said, "You guys got a permit for this?"
"Well, ya sound good," said the cop, "And if I was off duty, I'd have a beer with ya, but without a permit, ya gotta go."
After two hours of illegal playing, the band obligingly packed up their instruments and beers and called it a day. No fines were handed out. The only concert organizers who got ticketed that day were the ones who had a permit for their event.