Joshua Long is a 30-something guy you may have seen around Times Square, carrying a large sign with green lettering bearing the words “HELP! I need money for WEED!” It is a sign that sort of demands to be noticed, even in the visual glut of Times Square. And it has been noticed, by groups of Times Square-goers (let’s call a tourist a tourist) who want their picture taken with Long and his sign, and also by cops, who don’t seem to have much of an affection for the sign, nor for Long himself. In fact, Long has acquired a lawyer after repeated arrests, multiple summonses, and being pepper sprayed by cops, and he has fired a federal suit claiming violation of his First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights, reports the Daily News.
Long has a right to “lawfully beg” in Times Square, says the suit, via his First Amendment rights. Matthew Brinckerhoff, Long’s lawyer, says, “I can only conclude that the police don’t like his message.”
And yet, if the cops had read the New York Times in November of 2010, they might have stumbled upon a little article called “At Least the ‘Weed Man’ Is Honest. Or Is He?” in which it is revealed that the Weed Man doesn’t even smoke pot, and, in fact, he considers his begging “just like any other job” — one that can be quite lucrative. (Sometimes he makes $200 in four or five hours.) He’s working out there!
But seriously, the dude doesn’t even smoke pot, or didn’t in November of 2010:
Mr. Long had been an occasional smoker until about three months ago, he said, when he realized he needed to cut it out to focus on a budding career in real estate. He added that he recently passed a licensing exam and that his stint in Times Square allowed him to network with prospective clients.
“It’s not about the drugs,” he said, pot-leaf belt still in hand. “It’s really the laugh factor.”
So are the cops mad because of what the weed sign is…or what the weed sign isn’t? We’re not sure what’s worse: Someone begging for pot money for “laughs” when they don’t even smoke pot and have a career in real estate, or cops violating someone’s rights to beg for something they don’t even want. Or the fact that the so-called Weed Man has yet again garnered our attention for 15 minutes. Probably the last one. Anyone know what the Naked Cowboy’s been up to lately?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 27, 2011