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Suit Seeks to Block Cap on Arts Vendors

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Two New York street artists have filed a free-speech lawsuit to block new regulations that cap the number of art vendors in Manhattan's busiest parks.

One of the plaintiffs, Robert Lederman, filed a similar lawsuit in 2001 against the administration of then-mayor Rudy Giuliani, winning protections for artists selling their work in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lederman says the Bloomberg administration is trying to get around that ruling with its new proposal, which would allow only 120 vendors in Union Square, Battery Park, the High Line and parts of Central Park.

"The only way that you can restrict the first amendment right is public safety. You have to show a compelling argument for public safety. The city can't, and we can show with our evidence that they're out and out lying about the whole thing," Lederman said.

Currently, about 300 art vendors sell in those parks. City lawyers say the new regulations comply with all constitutional requirements and are necessary because the parks have become too crowded. The new rule went into effect July 19th.