Written by Christopher Gavin, firstname.lastname@example.org 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, 01 August 2014 00:00
The Mineola School District Board of Education assessed the district’s performance in recent New York State assessment and Regents testing; performance that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael
Nagler noted was in need of improvement at a July 24 board meeting.
Nagler addressed issues that students have been encountering with the recently-mandated state assessments, noting the difference in effectiveness between what he called “formative testing,” or testing on a regular basis, and “summative testing,” which is done annually, typically at the end of the school year.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Five storefronts on Willis Avenue in Williston Park were gutted after a five-alarm fire on Thursday, July 23 at around 2:40 a.m., Williston Park Fire Department officials said. Construction crews could be seen demolishing the row of stores as late as 2 p.m. last Thursday.
The fire was under control at around 4:30 a.m. No injuries were reported, officials noted.
Williston Park fire units responded at 2:44 a.m. According to department Chief Gary Smithing, the blaze started in the Village Cobbler Shoe Repair Shop at 617 Willis Ave.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently received belt promotions after successfully completing a series of extensive exams.
“Our goal at Charles Water Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Charles Water, owner and director of the school.
“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Mineola Hurricanes 10U offense was too much for L.I. Saints in 14-5 rout on Thursday July 17, at Willis Avenue Field in Mineola. With 11 runs in the first three innings, The Hurricanes left no doubt about the eventual outcome.
An RBI triple by Kevin Pusey, a steal of home by Kevin Pusey, and an RBI single by James Raziano during the first inning and an RBI single by Jack Mackay, a three-run triple by T.J. McManus put runs on the board early.