The Case of the Noisy Bird Repellent | Cup of Joe

The image of the poet’s in the breeze

Canadian geese are flying above the trees

A mist is hanging gently on the lake

My house is very beautiful at night

My House, by Lou Reed

This week, we head over to Freeport in Nassau County on the South Shore of Long Island. For those of you into boating and fishing, Freeport has extensive small-boat facilities and a resident fishing fleet, as well as charter and open water fishing boats. Coming up soon is a popular festival that occurs on Freeport’s Nautical Mile the first weekend in June every year. 

Celebrities from Freeport include comedian Eddy Murphy, Prodigy (Mobb Deep), and the massively influential rock musician, Lou Reed. In an article in Rollingstone Magazine, Lou’s role in the evolution of rock was described as follows: he “fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry.” Lou graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. cum laude in English in June 1964.  While there, he hung out at the Orange Grove Bar at the corner of S. Crouse Ave. and E. Adams St.

In 1970, Lou lived with his parents. Many of history’s great men have lived with their parents. Napoleon lived with his parents through most of the Peninsular Campaign. When Lou’s band, the Velvet Underground, played their swan song in 1970, Lou went home and was met at the Freeport, Long Island Railroad station by his parents, and whisked back home where he hung up his leather jackets and pants in his childhood bedroom closet. He worked for his tax accountant dad doing office errands for $40 a week. The godfather of punk rock.

Punk rock: some would say, necessary noise. This week’s case? Unnecessary noise.


Background:

Fedie Redd hated birds. They make a lot of unnecessary noise. And they’re dirty. Fedie believed she had found a solution to chill the rowdy chirpers on-line. It was a product found at a website guaranteeing to silence the discordant squawkers. The bird-deterring device emitted a noise that annoyed the birds. And in disturbing the peace of Fedie’s avian arch-enemies, the peace of her neighbors was similarly unmoored.

Fedie was arrested one fine summer morning in the nautical village of Freeport. It was June.

She was charged with “making, continuing, causing, or permitting to be made, an unreasonable noise,” in violation of Freeport Village Code § 155-19.

The Freeport Noise Code is clear: “No person shall make, continue or cause or permit to be made, verbally or mechanically, any unreasonable noise.”

Fedie pled Not Guilty. This is Fedie’s case.


TESTIMONY OF FEDIE’S NEIGHBORS

Q. You live in Fedie’s neighborhood in Freeport?

A. Yes, ma’am, that is correct. I live directly across the street.

Q. And did you file a complaint with the police against Fedie?

A. I didn’t want to, but I really had no choice.

Q. Why didn’t you have a choice?

A. Well I tried to resolve the issues that we had about the noise but Fedie did not want to discuss it reasonably.

Q. I see. So, what exactly was the issue that you had with Fedie.

A. Okay. I had heard a high-pitched sound coming from Fedie’s house. It was incredibly piercing and loud…I mean, high in volume.

Q. Was this over a short period of time that you heard this high-pitched sound?

A. No, ma’am. It was over a prolonged period of time. It was a very high-pitched whining noise over and over. For weeks.

Q. Did the sound coming from Fedie’s house have any effect on you physically?

A. Yes. The sound greatly bothered my ears. I just had no choice but to make a noise complaint to the police. I mean, I didn’t like having to call the police, but it just wasn’t going to end.

Q. Did you see the police go to Fedie’s home?

A. I did. Two uniformed officers arrived at the scene. It was not pleasant.

Q. Thank you, sir. Nothing further, Your Honor.


TESTIMONY OF THE INVESTIGATING OFFICERS

Q. Officer, did you respond to a noise complaint concerning Fedie’s property?

A. Yes, ma’am.  We had received a 911 dispatch to investigate a disturbance in the area of  Fedie’s residence.

Q. What was the disturbance?

A. Well, ma’am, there was a noise complaint reported by two individuals in the neighborhood where they had both heard a high pitched beeping noise emanating from Fedie’s residence. 

Q. Did you go to Fedie’s home to determine the source of the noise?

A. Yes, ma’am.

Q. And what did you determine?

A. As soon as we pulled the cruiser up to Fedie’s house, I could hear the noise while I was seated inside of the police car.

Q. Where the windows to the cruiser opened or closed?

A. They were closed. I could still hear the noise. It was very loud.

Q. Did you go up to the house to speak with Fedie.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Were you equipped with a body camera at that time?

A. Yes, I did. As I approached the front door of Fedie’s house, I activated my body-cam.

Q. We are going to play the footage from your body-cam now. Is that the audio-visual up on the screen there from your body-cam on the date of the within incident?

A. Yes it is. And you can clearly hear a high- pitched beeping noise that is heard numerous times on the recordings while I was on, or near, Fedie’s property.

Q. Did you walk over to the complaining neighbor’s house.

A. Yes, and you can still hear, loud and clear, the high-pitched noise emanating from Fedie’s house.

Q. Did you speak with Fedie during your investigation?

A. Yes. I asked Fedie what the source of the ridiculous noise was.

Q. Did Fedie respond?

A. Fedie told me that the noise was from a bird-deterring device.

Q. Did you request that the device be turned off?

A. I did. Fedie refused to comply. And here we are.


CLOSING ARGUMENT BY THE PROSECUTION

Your Honor, an ‘unreasonable noise’ under the Code means any excessive or unusually loud sound or any sound which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a reasonable person of normal sensitivities. You have heard testimony from the neighbor and the investigating officers that all the elements have been met.

The Code lists factors to be considered in determining whether unreasonable noise exists in a particular situation, which include the volume and intensity of the noise, whether the origin of the noise is natural or unnatural, the proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities, and whether the noise is continuous or impulsive. I am requesting that you find Fredie guilty of violating the Code.


JUDGE’S RULING

Fedie’s neighbor politely asked her to stop the noise; she refused. The police politely asked Fedie to stop the noise, again; she refused. Fedie, it seems, feels entitled to place her own needs above the need for her community to have peace and quiet. Therefore, I find Fredie GUILTY of violating the Freeport Code.


THE SENTENCE

Fedie is sentenced to a $350 fine and Fedie is forbidden, for a six-month period, from having any noise making-device of the type and kind which was the subject of this trial at her residence.


THE APPEAL

Fedie argued that the $350 fine and the bar from her from using the bird-deterring device are unauthorized, overbroad, and excessive, and constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The appeals court disagreed with Fredie. The sentence was upheld

Peace and quiet have come to roost back in the Village of Freeport.

And an unnamed mammal is darkly rising

As man burns from his tomb

And I look at this as a blissful moment

To fly into the sun…

Fly Into The Sun, Lou Reed

Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_50553.htm

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