New York Daily News

August 26, 2004

Pickets must honor Mike's 30-ft. fence

By Robert Gearty

Cops and firefighters lost their bid yesterday to get closer to Mayor Bloomberg during their contract protests.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association sued the city for implementing a 30-foot "frozen zone" around the mayor at public events, arguing the zone should be cut to 15 feet so the unions can get their message across.

But Manhattan Federal Court Judge Gerard Lynch denied the unions' try for a temporary restraining order.

"There has been no showing that the city violated the First Amendment rights of the demonstrators," Lynch ruled after a two-hour hearing.

Senior city attorney Gail Donoghue hailed the decision. She said altering the frozen zone could have hampered efforts to police demonstrations during the Republican National Convention next week.

Michael Murray, the PBA's general counsel, said, "The demonstrations will continue."

The lawsuit, which was filed earlier in the day, also asked the judge to stop the city from putting picketing officers into pens, end the filming of protests and stop threatening to arrest demonstrators. Lynch rejected those requests as well.

The unions are upset that they have gone two years without a new contract. Protesting cops and firefighters have dogged Bloomberg around the city, and last week held a raucous 1 a.m. protest outside his upper East Side townhouse. The rally didn't wake Bloomberg, but it did wake his neighbors.