We would like to apologize to the Anarchist community for the trouble with this year's security from the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center and its consequences for this year's Book Fair. We would also like to apologize for the lack of child care and wheelchair accessibility.
The Book Fair overall was a success; it was our first two-day book fair, with a great showing of book vendors from across the country, workshop presenters and attendees. It included the popular and well received Anarchist Film Festival and Anarchist Art Festival. We have had positive feedback from vendors, workshop presenters and attendees, but certain events marred the experience for some.
Before the Book Fair, threats and slanderous comments appeared on our open Facebook events page for the purpose of letting all know about the Book Fair itself. Early Saturday morning, before the Book Fair was to start, the doors to the venue were chained by a FB event group called "No Abusers, No Snitches, No Nazis at my Book Fair." (link) This prompted the Cultural Center to threaten to shut the Book Fair down (a threat they repeated throughout the weekend.) The Cultural Center also called the NYPD and hired private security guards, which made things more difficult throughout the weekend. The Cultural Center forced the Book Fair collective to pay for this offensive presence the day before the Fair was suppose to happen, or otherwise cancel the Book Fair. This certainly put us in a bind, and thus we decided to move forward with our decision on putting it on.
We are very sorry this happened as a result of this FB group's actions. It resulted in the security guards checking bags at the entrance. More seriously, it resulted in the venue and its security guards not allowing a few participants who were to attend the APOC caucus to enter the building. For this we are deeply sorry, as we made every effort to negotiate with the Cultural Center's security guards to allow them back in. This made our closing night more difficult as the Cultural Center's staff continued to threaten to stop the scheduled Anarchist Art Festival.
We believe these incidents arose from our choice not to have Support NY serve as the designated safer space mediator team during this year's Book Fair. While we stand by this decision, we regret not finding a substitute to take over that function. We promise to correct that next year.
We believe that those who posted false accusations, slander and who chained the doors to the venue should take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable. We believe that the FB group should:
Apologize to the Anarchist Community for their actions;
Apologize specifically to the APOC attendees;
Reimburse the Book Fair collective for the cost of hiring security guards; and
Promise they will not harm the book fair in the future.
Please understand that we are not attacking the individuals responsible, we are attacking their actions and their consequences that affected the Book Fair's overall spirit to visitors. With this, the Book Fair collective looks forward in organizing next year with more community input and involvement to have a more successful, and drama-free (as much as possible) Book Fair! Until next year!
Anarchy & Peace,
NYC Anarchist Book Fair Collective