Freedom Of Speech - 27 East

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Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1679669

Freedom Of Speech

I am writing to tell my version of what happened on the night of February 12 [“Video: Art Dealer Arrested Following Disturbance At Sag Harbor Film Screening,” 27east.com, February 13], to let everyone know that most of the articles and the people’s comments were biased and untrue.

I decided to go with a couple of friends to see a documentary about the history of the Indians, past and present, specifically about the Shinnecock Indian Nation people. I was a paying customer, and the event took place in a public restaurant. At the end of the movie, there was an opportunity to ask questions.

I raised my hand and was allowed to ask a question. I simply asked, “Why are the Indians still claiming to be victims of the past, when they are the most privileged group when it comes to benefits in the United States of America?” They can open casinos in some places, are tax exempt and land has been returned to them. They have been given many other privileges that most people do not have.

Why are they still claiming to be victims after 300 years, rather than build a life for themselves like the Jewish people who came to America? They lost most of their family members to the Holocaust, came with no money, and built a life for themselves … and until this day do not play victims of the past.

When I finished asking my question, I was approached and asked to leave the restaurant. I replied, “This is a public place, I am a paying customer and I have no desire to leave.” They called the police, and when the police came they told me that I was trespassing.

They roughly grabbed me and dragged me outside, as I was pleading for them to stop, leave me alone, and that I did not do anything wrong.

Two big police officers twice my size, with no consideration of my age (80 years old), manhandled me in a brutal and rough way. When I reached the door of the restaurant, I lifted my leg to try to hold on to the door and not go out with them. The police officer accused me of kicking him and grabbed me roughly, tossed me on the ground and put his heavy body on my back, while the second police officer was pushing his body against me and, in a brutal way, handcuffed me.

An individual in the United States of America has the right under the First Amendment to express themselves freely without getting arrested for it. It gives the power of freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people to express themselves — and I simply exercised the freedom of speech on February 12.

Vered

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