Mayor Bloomberg Steers Clear of 'Occu-Pirates' Controversy
UPPER WEST SIDE — Mayor Michael Bloomberg steered clear of the "Occu-Pirates" battle with the city's Parks Department brewing on the high seas of the Hudson — saying protesters are welcome to dock their protest ship in the city marina as long as they follow the rules.
Bloomberg laughed when told about plans by the Occu-Pirates, a group led by sailboat owner and Occupy Wall Street member Tom Fox, to turn his 30-foot sailboat "Druid" into a vehicle for protesters on the Hudson River this summer.
He denied knowing anything about the Parks Department's cease and desist order to Fox, in which the city ordered him to remove all flags, banners and other paraphernalia from his boat or risk being kicked out of the 79th Street Boat Basin, where it's docked.
Fox was also ordered to stop drumming or otherwise disturbing the peace aboard the sailboat, according to the email from Seth Goodwin, the Chief Dockmaster of Marinas for the New York City Parks Department. Goodwin and the Parks Department did not return repeated requests for comment.
"We are not going to change our policies in parks or on boats or anything for any one organization. If you have a right to be there, we welcome you. If you don't, for good public policy reasons, we don't," Bloomberg said at an unrelated press conference Wednesday.
"One of the nice things about this city is we have wonderful waterways and people are welcome to use them," he added.
Weekend drumming parties might not be what he has in mind, however, as the ideal use of the waterways. The Mayor added, "You can go out and kayak, I watched some people the other day on the stand-up surf board, paddling. Haven't tried that."
Fox said the city is unfairly singling him out because of his political beliefs.
In addition, he said, his protest activity took place well outside the confines of the marina, and thus the Park Department's jurisdiction, and that furthermore, his protest was approved by the Coast Guard.
"It's my first amendment right. And they are trying to shut that down," Fox said.