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Protester Argues Arrest

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

News

Mineola Street Fair coordinators are canvassing the downtown area to enlist local businesses for the fourth annual Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event on Saturday, Sept. 14 at noon, with an Oct. 5 rain date. Opening ceremonies begin at 1 p.m.

 

“We’ve been walking the streets trying to get more businesses involved,” Chamber vice president and Piccola Bussola owner Tony Lubrano said. “It’s the same struggle every year but at the end, it all comes together.”

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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