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On May 18, the New York Civil Liberties Union blasted the city over its plans to limit the use of the Great Lawn to six large-scale events a year, four of which have already been reserved for performances of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. The NYCLU said that the plans would unconstitutionally limit the right to peaceful protest and unfairly favor government-sponsored speech. Their announcement came just four days after another, rather different, demonstration for open space. On May 14, Complacent, an underground New York artists’ collective, threw the first big, unlicensed street party since the Republican National Convention. Dubbed First Warm Night, it was meant not only as a celebration of spring, but also as a reassertion of public ownership of public spaces. Given the mass arrests of RNC protesters and Critical Mass riders, the organizers decided that the best way to reclaim the streets was to party on them. So they created a web site and sent directions to would be revelers via email and text messages. More than a thousand people amassed from across New York, snaking their way underground along the F line to the skeletal steel structures of Red Hook. In a momentary pause in the music, a girl with a bullhorn called the crowd to attention: “If you want these events to happen in the future,” she shouted, “you have to take it upon yourselves to make music and organize.” (D. Bell)

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