On Wednesday 15 September 1999, the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) performed SCP Headline News twice, both times in the company of and videotaped by a crew from the Toronto-based cable show City TV. In contrast to every other SCP performance of 1999, neither of these two performances were "observed" by a lawyer from the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Despite steady rain, the first performance took place as scheduled at noon in Washington Square Park. This public park has recently become one of the SCP's favorite locations in which to perform, and not because the SCP are especially fond of it or the surrounding neighborhood (which is dominated by university students, yuppies and tourists), but because it is one of the few locations in Manhattan other than federally-funded housing projects in which surveillance cameras have been installed by the city government (and not by private enterprises).
Because of the rain, few people saw the performance, though one person (a long-time resident of the neighborhood who is active in local politics) watched the whole show, enjoyed it very much and was interviewed afterwards by the TV crew. At this performance, the SCP consisted of Bill and Miranda. For the second time in its history, the SCP used music -- the Ice-T/Jello Biafra collaboration called "Shut Up, Be Happy" -- as part of one of its performances. (The SCP plan to make a kind of "rock video" with this song as the soundtrack and SCP Headline News as the imagetrack.)
The second performance of SCP Headline News was given at around 10:30 p.m. at the same subway station (14th Street and Seventh Avenue, Manhattan) at which the SCP performed 1984 on both 3 November 1998 and 9 November 1998. Here it would have been good to have had the observer from the NYCLU present, because -- half-way through their second run-through of the play, which is only two minutes long -- the SCP were deprived of their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly by a total of seven police officers from the New York Police Department (four undercovers and three uniforms), who, without citing what ordinance or law the SCP were violating, ordered the performers to stop. Even though the two players on hand (Bill and Paul) did in fact stop, one of the cops -- the biggest and most openly hostile -- asked, "Do we arrest them now?" Despite this fascist's sick desire to arrest Bill and Paul, the two SCPers were allowed to collect their things and go without further harassment.
This experience has convinced the SCP of at least three things: first, that under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City has indeed become a police state in which every and all protest or radical use of public space must be suppressed; second, that the SCP (whose only "weapons" are their minds, pieces of paper and ink) pose some sort of effective threat to NYC's police state; and third, that the SCP must therefore continue their work until this police state has been utterly defeated.
Contact the Surveillance Camera Players
By e-mail e-mail:notbored@NOSPAMoptonline.net
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998