Sunday, June 04, 2006

What’s Good Enough for H Street is Good Enough for Georgetown

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Residential homes and apartments in the 700 block of 8th Street NE are visible in this photo of the amplified fellows from the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK). The image of the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE was made from the seat of a passing Metro bus at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, June 3. Their blaring speech from a battery-powered amplifier continued until after 7 p.m. Residents actually heard the word “shit”—a commonly accepted profanity—among the words broadcast yesterday. However, this word should be no big deal compared to the routine blasting of the words “faggot,” “nigger,” “cracker,” and “death to the white man.” (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

A handful of residents from the 700 block of 8th Street NE continue to prepare for next Sunday’s (June 11) Amplified Free Speech Day. We plan to assemble at the corner of Wisconsin and N Streets in Georgetown from 3-5 p.m. I can safely say each of us has other things we’d rather be doing on one Sunday afternoon, but hope a year’s worth of Saturdays will be quieter for the action.

Ward 1 Councilmember Jack Evans authored the 2004 amendment to the District of Columbia noise statute, which means, according to the Office of Attorney General, any person can use an amplifier to broadcast non-commercial speech anywhere in the city from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. This also apparently means Evan’s language provides no restriction on the loudness measured in terms of decibels.

We’ve been asking for Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Graham for a fix, but I suppose Evans—who maintains his amendment only should apply to Georgetown—could also repair it. He that giveth also can taketh away, afterall.

We absolutely support free speech. But at 110 decibels—about the same loudness as a rock concert—the amplifier’s use for more than four hours every Saturday has a detrimental affect on H Street NE community residents and businesses alike. And if the city really wants to uphold free speech rights, they should provide every D.C. resident a portable amplifier.

Would Georgetown residents and businesses allow the city to tolerate this toxic behavior? Why does the city council ignore the residents and business working hard to build a community around H Street NE?

We’ll see next Sunday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that broadcasting words like "Death to the White Man" consitutes a threat... possibly even a terrorist threat. At the very least it should be considered inciting a riot or criminal activity. This is no longer the "right to peaceful assembly". They have crossed the line and should be legally stopped. This is a form of hate crime. It is illegal even if it not violating a city noise ordinance.

12:17 PM  
Blogger cuff said...

"Ward 1 Councilmember Jack Evans authored the 2004 amendment to the District of Columbia noise statute, "

Jim Graham is the Ward 1 Councilmember. Jack Evans is Ward 2.

Just saying.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Klav said...

You're right, cuff. Pardon the typo in that June 4 posting.

5:15 PM  

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