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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

The Mineola School Board will hold a public hearing on the much-debated New York State veterans exemption on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Willis Avenue School. It is expected the board will either approve or disapprove the tax exemption during its regular meeting at 7 p.m.

When votes go to the polls next week on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote on the Town of North Hempstead’s 2nd Council District seat, candidate Bonnie Parente feels her stance on the building department is what voters will remember when casting their choice. The 2nd council district post is currently held by Peter Zuckerman, a former East Hills trustee. He was appointed to the seat in January to replace Thomas Dwyer, who resigned last year.

 

“That’s the major issue I heard about when I knocked on doors,” she said. “No matter where I am, I could be at the Herricks Community Center or the Albertson Pasta Dinner and

predominately what people ask about is how to fix the building department.”


Sports

Samantha Pastore

Samantha Pastore, senior and third-year varsity player, is also co-captain of the currently undefeated (11-0) Mineola Girls Varsity Volleyball team. She is an outside hitter and is often recognized in games by starting rallies with her quick thinking and nimble feet. She earns 20 percent of the team’s points and averages four aces per match.

The Mineola Mustangs varsity football team fell to the Seaford Vikings last week 27-21, missing their chance to tie the top seeds Locust Valley and Roosevelt’s 6-1 Nassau conference IV record.

 

After tying the game in the second half and having the opportunity to capitalize on Seaford’s failed extra-point kick on their final touchdown, the Viking’s senior wide receiver/defensive back Bobby Buell knocked away a pass from Mineola senior quarterback James Gerstner to senior wide receiver Brian Smith in the end-zone with 57 seconds left


Calendar

International Night - October 30

Halloween Parade - October 31

Cultural Arts Series - November 1 


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