Written by Christopher Gavin, email@example.com Thursday, 10 July 2014 00:00
Mineola resident Daniel Martins feels his arrest by Nassau County police last month was unlawful. He claims he had been targeted because of his political views.
During a one-man protest, Martins, 21, placed and stood next to an American flag and a “Impeach Obama” sign on a foot bridge over the Long Island Expressway, according to a YouTube video Martins made of his encounter with authorities. He displayed banners for two hours between exits 40 and 41 every Friday since September 2013, he said.
On June 6, Martins was approached by Nassau County Police officers who told him the display was a danger to drivers and arrested him for not taking it down, the video shows. Police in the video say they had received phone calls about Martins.
According to a criminal complaint, Martins admitted to police he “was previously warned in the past to not hang signs on the fence of the foot bridge.”
Martins was charged with second degree criminal nuisance and disorderly conduct, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.
“Political signs and this protester’s signs and actions enjoy First Amendment protection until they cause a traffic safety hazard,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
Martins said he understood the need for concern, but said he did not witness any accidents during his trips to the walkway.
Martins plans to plead not guilty.
“People have been doing similar protests to what I’ve been doing through out the nation,” Martins said, in reference to the grassroots movement, Overpasses for America. “I believe there is one help in every state, at least one help in every state, and thousands of protests have been going on for over a year now across the nation. There has not been one reported accident or harm done to anyone.”
He claimed he received permission from an official of the Town of Oyster Bay to post the sign.
“No...there is no record [of the approval to post signs],” a town spokesperson said, adding that approval would need to come from New York State.
Martins, a registered Libertarian, was originally supposed to appear in court on July 1. However, the judge was out sick and so the case has been adjourned until Aug. 8. But in the meantime he said his lawyer, Thomas Liotti, is pursuing authorities to investigate the lawsuit for a different reason.
“My attorney has put in a request to the bureau chief for a full scale investigation of my case because there is a conflict of interest [in] allowing the Nassau County DA to prosecute me,” Martins said. “Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County DA, holds and places campaign posters on overpasses.”
Liotti said this is not acceptable.
“She did it in a much more glorified manner than my client did,” Liotti said. “It’s kind of ridiculous.”
Rice recently won the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary over Kevan Abrahams in June. Her campaign headquarters denied placing signs on overpasses.
“The Rice campaign doesn't place signs in areas that could cause a distraction, and we certainly didn't place signs over the LIE or have people on overpasses of congested roadways attempting to draw the attention of drivers from the road,” said campaign spokesperson Eric Phillips.
The DA’s office called Liotti’s request for a special prosecutor “baseless.”
“We continue to review this case,” the statement read.
Martins said he sees the case as a waste of time for taxpayers, officials and police.
“The Nassau County’s DA office would rather bargain and play down violence, drugs and DWI offenders but I’m being prosecuted for peaceful protesting,” Martins said. “I think there are more important criminal matters that our taxpayers and the Nassau County DA’s office need to focus on and this just isn’t one of them.”
— Rich Forestano contributed to this story
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Only once a year a 25-foot movie screen sits in the middle of Wilson Park in Mineola, ready to entertain residents. This year’s Movie Night in the Park feature The LEGO Movie, sponsored by the Village of Mineola and Mineola Chamber of Commerce on Friday, July 18.
The event, which was free of charge to all of the moviegoers, was meant to help promote local Mineola businesses, according to president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce Bill Greene.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the American industry, and we feel that this is a great way of giving back to the community with hopes that they’ll remember to shop locally,” said Greene.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Mineola resident Frank Zuniga and his wife, Charlotte, were heartbroken. It was bad enough that they had to take Mollie, their rescued beagle/terrier mix to the veterinarian on July 4, but it wasn’t until last week that they found out what happened to her until last week.
It started on Independence Day when Mollie, who the Zunigas adopted in February, started vomiting. Their regular vet was closed for the holiday, and the couple found that the Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Westbury would see them.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Runners from all over Long Island came to run at the fourth annual Katie Oppo Memorial 5K on Sunday, June 15. The runner first across the finish line was Mineola resident Michael Mariotti, general manager, owner and host of the famous local restaurant Cafe Continental in Manhasset.
The day was glorious as the runners and walkers began their trek through Flower Hill from the starting line at Flower Hill Park. Organizers of this year’s event made the race a USATF Certified 5K race, timed by Long Island Race Timing.
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00
Mineola Hurricanes lost a battle of the bats on Sunday, June 29, at St. Joseph’s Field in Kings Park, falling short in a 9-8 ball game against the St. Joseph’s Saints in the first game of a doubleheader.
The top of the first saw the Hurricanes take an early 2-0 lead. The runs came home for the Hurricanes when T.J. McManus scored on an error and Connor Eakin scored on a fielder’s choice. The Saints never surrendered the lead after the first inning, scoring five runs on two errors and an RBI single by Jonathan.