Why Was Washington Square Park Rejected as Site for Veteran’s Day Rally Concert with Joan Baez?

Updated — Joan Baez has a history at Washington Square Park and it would be fantastic for her to return to perform at the park. Yet when that was attempted for today’s Veteran’s Day Rally, now being held further downtown at Foley Square, the city refused to allow – “balked” at – WSP as the location.

From the New York Daily News:

Legendary 1960s protest singer Joan Baez will headline an Occupy Wall Street rally Friday.

“It’s official. Joan Baez will be here tomorrow,” said organizer Aaron Black. “She’s an icon. We are unbelievably excited. In the ‘60s, protests and music went hand and hand.”

The “11/11/11” Veterans Day Rally will be held at at Foley Square from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The slogan for the day: “Honor the Dead, Fight Like Hell For the Living.”

Ignoring the weekday timeslot and the short notice, Black said he expects big crowds – possibly tens of thousands of people. …

Baez, born a New Yorker, is an icon of the 1960s who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, dated Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs, and sang about civil rights, human rights and the Vietnam War. …

The concert/rally was originally planned for Washington Square Park but city officials balked. They allowed Foley as a compromise.

I reached out to city’s Parks Department to inquire as to why Washington Square Park was not allowed as a location for the concert. The response I received back was “Check with NYPD.” The Parks Department issues permits for use of the parks. In addition, an earlier Daily News piece stated this:

It was originally supposed to be at Washington Square Park but park officials had concerns about the guest lineup. They allowed protesters to use Foley as a compromise.

Could this have something to do with the park’s redesign – this change of usage of the park? Is the historic nature of the park as a place of music and activism further in danger, even when permitted? Is the 25% reduction of public space around the Fountain Plaza figuring into this? Is Washington Square now considered off-limits for big events?

What exactly was the problem?

Previously at WSP Blog:

* City “Regulations” Cause Musicians and Artists To Be Ticketed for Performances Near Fountain, Arch, Benches at WSP – October 28, 2011

* “Honey, I Shrunk The Park” March 17, 2008

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Leave a comment


  1. This is maddening. We need to take back our parks — from the police, from the city, from the extremely radical right. Joan Baez is an icon and a legend and performing in the village, especially in Washington Square Park, is completely appropriate. Support taking back Washington Square Park @ http://www.occupywashingtonsquare.org or twitter @occupywsp !! Thank you for catching this buried news flash about the ever increasing military occupation of our parks by city police.

  2. Thanks Johanna. We need to take back our parks and public spaces, that is for sure. It’s just by ‘chance’ I learned of this. I’m happy to report and follow up on it – I think it’s important, as I know you do!


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