Activists say Arnold ‘terminating’ smelt and salmon


By Lincoln Anderson

Three Safe Water Movement activists were arrested April 14 after handing out fliers and protesting outside The Lighthouse at Pier 60 in Chelsea Piers, where the group Riverkeeper was honoring California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at its annual Fisherman’s Ball.

Before the arrests, one of the activists, Robert Jereski,

explained to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Riverkeeper’s chief prosecuting attorney, on his way going in, why recognizing Schwarzenegger sent the wrong message on environmental conservation. Riverkeeper was honoring Schwarzenegger for his work on climate change, but S.W.M. members charge that, under him, some California fish — including the delta salmon and smelt — are near extinction, while the state continues to build more dams. According to Jereski, R.F.K., Jr., responded that Schwarzenegger’s record on climate change was “very respected.”

The activists’ flier contained a quote from Robert H. Boyle, Riverkeeper’s founder, stating, “In honoring Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his continuing devastation of California’s rivers and their threatened and endangered fishes, Riverkeeper has betrayed its stated mission on the Hudson and the cause of rivers everywhere.”

The Safe Water Movement activists also blasted Riverkeeper for “failing to fulfill its river-protecting mandate” by not joining the call for a statewide ban on hydrofracking in New York.

In an e-mail after being released from the Manhattan Detention Complex, a.k.a. “The Tombs,” last week, Jereski said, “I’m trying to catch up after 36 hours locked up for distributing fliers in the Hudson River Park facilities. My understanding is that they’re not private because they are parks, and in any case, we were outside with our fliers — not inside the banquet hall.”

Lieutenant Michael Wysokowski, a police spokesperson, said, “The individuals were arrested for criminal trespass after they were asked to leave private property and refused.”

Noreen Doyle, the Hudson River Park Trust’s vice president, last week told The Villager, “Based on your description — which is the information we are relying upon since we have no independent knowledge of the event — the incident took place on part of a private leasehold, Chelsea Piers’ parking garage outside of the Pier 60 event space, and not in a public park space regulated by the Trust.”

Jereski said that — after one Safe Water Movement activist had already been arrested and put in the back of a police car — Jereski asked R.F.K., Jr., to help the activists explain to the police that they had a right to distribute fliers on the pier.

“He wryly answered that he was busy with other things that evening,” Jereski said.

Doyle said it is legal to hand out fliers and leaflets in the public portions of Hudson River Park. But individuals must adhere to the Trust’s published “Rules and Regulations,” she said, adding these are modeled on those for New York City public parks. The regulations say a permit is needed to hand out commercial fliers, but not for “expressive materials,” such as protest fliers.