Please be assured that we, the Friends of Sunset Park, did not participate in the planning or the execution of today's (Sunday-16 Aug 2009) RAID on the park's unlicensed vendors. This tactic, while it might make some people feel powerful for a few minutes, does not work, period. In fact, it generates graffiti, other types of vandalism (against trees/plantings, equipment & facilities), as well as more garbage aka "garbage with a vengeance." Members of the Friends of Sunset Park have been approaching the vendors directly for the past couple of months to elicit their cooperation as a partner in preserving and maintaining the park. While this outreach may not carry the drama of a raid or a call to arms vs. the vendors, we believe that it will eventually yield better results. For the past several years we have been advocating for a multi-prong/multi agency approach that includes education, small business tech support, and constructive enforcement, but the response is always the same: "it's definitely the right approach, but we don't have the resources necessary."
At the end of the day, all that the RAID accomplished was to terrorize the hundreds of children present, and the vendors' children, in particular, who witnessed their parents being chased like animals, as they abandoned their carts and property to avoid (perceived) arrest.
A number of the vendors spoke with us today thinking that the RAID was orchestrated by us, and since that was not the case, we are directing them to Park's management and the individuals who did so that they may discuss this issue directly with them.
Friends of Sunset Park was founded 12 years ago and has remained a constant and effective presence in our park as different park's personnel has come and gone, and as many individuals and special interest groups have also come and gone. We invite anyone who reads this posting and who is interested in responsible, effective, long-term, hands-on and realistic involvement in the preservation of Sunset Park to join us and work in a collaborative and inclusive manner. Our mission is "TO PRESERVE OUR WONDERFUL COMMUNITY BY BRINGING BEAUTY, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT TO A SAFE AND CLEAN PARK...
One-shot RAIDS against the vendors, with the goal of scaring them straight, have never and will never work long term. The "cleansing" effect may, at best, last a couple of days, but they will re-establish themselves and always in greater numbers and savvier, because of it; the graffiti and vandalism that these "enforcement actions" generate will cost all of us far more in lost well-being, frustration, park salaries, materials, and reduced enjoyment of our treasured park.
Yours truly- MR for the Friends of Sunset Park- firstname.lastname@example.org