New York Daily News

July 17, 2004

Unions' Garden protest OKd

BY JONATHAN LEMIRE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Hours before a threatened court appearance, three city unions hammered out a deal yesterday allowing them to picket around Madison Square Garden.

Lawyers from the police, fire and teachers unions had planned to take legal action to try to win permission for their members to assemble en masse Monday around the Garden during the runup to the Republican National Convention. The unions want to protest their lack of contracts.

The NYPD, citing concerns over pedestrian and delivery access to the Garden, wanted to limit the number of pickets in the area.

The agreement allows the union members to encircle the Garden and distribute leaflets - as long as there is plenty of space between them.

The protesters will be 20 feet apart around the Garden, with extras gathering on W. 33rd St. The informational picketing is expect to run at least 10 days, officials said.

"We are pleased that the city concedes that the First Amendment applies to the city police, fire and teachers, too," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

An NYPD spokesman confirmed that an agreement had been reached but declined further comment.