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
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00
Swaths of nearby and local residents flocked to the sixth annual Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14. With vendors lined up and down the streets featuring local businesses and restaurants, live performances and various entertainment for kids, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event didn’t disappoint Mary Cheung of Great Neck.
“These fairs are always fun,” she said. “It’s not too hot, not too cold. The music is the best part.”
Saturday, 13 September 2014 00:00
A bunch of fruit in a bowl may not be that exciting to look at, that is unless you’re looking at them from Nancy Colleary’s point of view. Through her still life paintings, the she explores shadows, colors and light to make the most ordinary objects appear beautiful.
From her in-home studio, she continues to hold classes and work on her own projects, which includes paintings that are on display at Walk Street in Garden City and Chef’s Corner in Mineola.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
Mineola resident Michael Patalano of Andrews Road was named one two captains on the Kellenberg Memorial High School varsity football team recently. He played for the Mineola Chiefs for five years, which prepared him for football at the next level. He has three younger sisters. Two of them play sports for the Mineola Mustangs.