There’s a natural adversarial relationship between freedom of speech people (like me) and law enforcement. It’s understandable because the freedom of speech people are waiting to get hassled (and it happens). And the cops are waiting for the freedom of speech people to push it too far (and that happens).
When pushing the limits, I try to see the man (or woman) behind the uniform…even though I can’t imagine wanting to be a cop. And I’m sure they can’t imagine doing what I do either. I can say it really surprised me when I saw a cop at the Mermaid Parade who was really angry. I just don’t get it. It’s an easy gig. Pretty girls everywhere, a few flamboyant boys. On the same token, one time I was painting a group of naked people in Chelsea and this restaurant owner was asking me to move a little further away from his restaurant. Then this other guy puts his camera right in the guys face. When I ask him to give us some room, he starts lecturing me about how it’s his right and it’s public space…blah blah…
The fact is that there are always going to be assholes on both sides and we have to have faith that most people are pretty chill and trying to do something good. Yes, cops are real people. This photo was taken from the double-decker bus. Just like everyone else, most of them are loving it, lots of smiles and a couple of people that can’t seem to enjoy 2 bus loads of screaming naked painted people. Oh well, what more can we do? Click on the photo below for a full size picture, so you can see all of the expressions. There’s only one guy that looks pissed off. Can you spot him?
(by the way, the cops of the 17th precinct were really helpful at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza last year…and we’re coming back again!)