Sunday, August 27, 2006

Neighborhood Is Collateral Damage of Amplified Battle

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) A fellow from the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK) tries to grab a campaign sign from a supporter of District of Columbia Mayoral Candidate Michael Brown (right) as she waives it in the face of an amplified screamer. The ISUPK fellows used the amplifier to call Brown a “faggot” and the female supporter a “prostitute” at the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006. The supporter—without the aid of an amplifier—exclaimed the ISUPK were “scum” that needed to be removed from the sidewalk. The neighborhood residents and businesses could hear the racket inside homes and buildings. “We don’t want anyone removed—we just a little peace and quiet,” said one neighbor, whose toddler has a difficult time napping on noisy Saturday afternoons. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

An amplified battle erupted Saturday at the intersection of H and 8th Streets NE between the usual self-proclaimed religious group and supporters of a D.C. mayoral candidate. It was a scene where freedom of speech was guaranteed to only those with an amplifier. Everyone else be damned.

Meanwhile, helpless residents, businesses and bystanders caught in the crossfire of the hours-long barrage of piercing racket became “collateral damage.”

On this particular afternoon, the amplified ISUPK gathered in their usual spot on the southeast corner while supporters of D.C. Mayoral Candidate Michael Brown assembled signs and banners on the southwest corner. A Brown supporter stood near the curb with a bullhorn and shouted “Michael Brown for Mayor!” in several different directions. This attracted the ISUPK group’s attention, because soon they were excoriating Michael Brown and his supporters.

One woman carrying a yellow “Brown for Mayor” sign marched across 8th Street and began shouting back at the amplified ISUPK. Her voice was surprisingly strong but little match for the powered amplified. She shouted “Michael Brown for mayor!” and waived her sign while the ISUPK called Michael Brown a “faggot” and her a “prostitute.” She called the ISUPK “scum” and said the sidewalk needed to be rid of the group.

She waived her sign in front of one of the yellers, while another, apparently thinking it a threat, made an unsuccessful grab for it. More screaming and yelling ensued. By this time, I thought my ears were bleeding, so I retreated back to the southwest corner to speak with Brown’s supporters.

I explained to one fellow the city loophole allows the chronic amplified noise problem to shatter the peace every Saturday for residents and businesses of the neighborhood—the speech can be heard inside the homes and buildings.

He seemed to dismiss my concern as a freedom of speech issue. I don’t think he was able to hear me reply that Michael Brown should stop and chat with my neighbor whose crying kid was just awakened by all the unreasonable noise.

The D.C. City Council must fix the noise law loophole to protect residents and businesses from hours of such behavior every Saturday afternoon.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

David David David You are total lier and deciever of all things truthful. First of all the would be Mayoral assistant did in fact assault the one of the members of ISUPK as you and everyone present saw. You claim that you are on a quest for quiet, however you both joined and encouraged the opposing group to come against the ISUPK. you also claim that sound device used by these indivisuals disturbs the residents on your block. The District has laws in place for these kinds of issues. The court papers show that this group was not outside of the permissible sound levels. You call it a loop hole, but to inforce such a low amount of sound would mean even the sound of buses would not be allowed to pass your street. The sound levels at this corner do not disturb the residents as you claim. The content of their speech is what you appear to be disturbed by. If not why didn't I see the police called by you and your residents, on the mayorial candidate with the bull horn. At least try to appear fair in your assesment of the situation. don't say the woman with the sign pass it near the person when you saw her hit him in the face. You sound more and more like you are on a quest to get rid of ISUPK rather than to receive Quiet.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Klav said...

Anon:

Thanks for your note. I did not encourage Candidate Brown's group to engage with the ISUPK. The mayoral candidate asked me about what issues were important to me as a neighborhood resident. Noise is one I mentioned.

The city noise inspector cited and fined the ISUPK three times last year for violating the city noise regulations. Later, the city attorney general found a loophole in the statute (which trumps regulation). It allows non-commercial speech to be amplified WITHOUT LIMITS anywhere in the District of Columbia between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The neighbors don't bother calling the police anymore about the noise disturbance because no law is being broken--the police can do nothing.

Nearly a dozen residents demonstrated the absurdity of the broken law by assembling at Wisconsin and N Streets NW in Georgetown and blasting the area with an amplifier for two hours on Sunday, June 11. Upset residents and business owners, indeed.

5:51 PM  

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