News

Artist Prepares to Sue High Line Over Alleged Assault

by Jillian Steinhauer on January 21, 2013

Artist Iddi Amadu in front of the High Line elevator where he says he was assaulted (image courtesy Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

Artist Iddi Amadu in front of the High Line elevator where he says he was assaulted (image courtesy Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

The artist who claims that he was attacked by a maintenance employee on the High Line park in Chelsea last month is planning to sue over the incident. Iddi Amadu, an immigrant from Ghana who sells his art on the streets, is bringing a suit against Friends of the High Line, the organization that runs the park, as well as the city and the Parks Department, in the hopes of being compensated for his injuries and destroyed work, DNAinfo reports.

By Amadu’s account, a High Line maintenance worker named Kenya Robinson picked a fight with him as he was packing up his things and preparing to head home on Dec. 14. Amadu says that Robinson knocked over his cart, destroying some of his artwork, and then smacked him in the face with a walkie-talkie. Amadu also alleges that as he lay bleeding on the ground, no other park workers came over to help him. And when the police came, he said, they arrested him at first, rather than Robinson, although DNAinfo reports that the NYPD has no record of that.

According to Amadu’s notice of claim, he “received 10 stitches, and suffers from headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, fever and trauma.”

Hyperallergic spoke with Amadu, who was quick to note that the suit is about more than compensation. “It’s not just because of the money,” he said. “To stalk someone and to become a victim in a park — if it can happen to me, it can happen to you, or your brother or sister. Nobody is going to go to the park except for tourists.” (That may already be true.)

Amadu said he had been back to the High Line since the incident and had seen Robinson still working there. He also heard through another park employee that Robinson is a convicted felon, and throughout our conversation expressed outrage that Robinson had been given the power to basically act like a police officer. “If you are not a police officer, you cannot tell me what to do,” he said. “This is a public place.”

That line between private and public is a fine one that the High Line has been walking since it opened. Amadu voiced a increasingly heard criticism of the park when he told us, “I don’t think it’s really a park — I think it’s a private-owned business. It’s run like a private-owned business, like a mall.”

A spokeswoman for Friends of the High Line told DNAinfo that it “dispute[s] Mr. Amadu’s account of the incident,” adding, “We expect all facts to come out in the course of our review, which we will not comment on out of respect for the process.” But Amadu remains confident, saying, “The lawsuit’s going to go well, because I’m not gonna back down. I’m going to walk with a camera, I’m going to tape every encounter, so I can show that to the whole world. They messed with the wrong person.”

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