Friday, August 04, 2006

Assemble for Rights NYC

There's a new blog in town, spawned by a rule proposed by the NYPD that could limit the number of people that can legally walk or ride bicycles together. Called Assemble for Rights NYC, the blog has been cobbled together by a group rallying opposition to a new police rule that would define two or more people as "a parade" and make them subject to arrest if they violated any traffic laws.

Say what?

Let's allow Assemble for Rights NYC to explain:
Under the guise of protecting the public safety, the New York City Police Department plans to expand its control over protest activity by labeling many common street and side walk uses as a "parade". If put into effect, these new rules will greatly suppress the right to assembly and expose peaceful protestors as well as regular people to arrest for things as simple as crossing the street against the light.

Under the NYPD's proposed rules:

* Any group of two (yes, 2) or more cyclists or pedestrians traveling down a public street, who violate any traffic law, rule or regulation can be arrested for parading without a permit.

* Any group of 20 or more cyclists must obtain a permit and approved route from the NYPD or would be subject to arrest

* Every group of 35 of more pedestrians must obtain a permit and approved route from the NYPD or would be subject to arrest

These rules could go into effect as soon as August 24th, 2006.
There is far more detail about the proposed new rules and what they could mean available over at Assemble for Rights NYC as well as suggestions for some citizen activism in the form of who to call or email if one would like to add one's voice to the chorus.

Even allowing for the fact that the police won't be running around busting couples for parading without a permit when they jaywalk, the rules would be a tool that could be used arbitrarily and for whatever purposes suited the city. It is one of those rules that is so broadly written that it is tailor-made for abuse. School teachers walking their classes to the park would technically need a parade permit, for instance. Okay, so the cops won't bust a teacher and bunch of First Graders. But, a group of 15 grungy-looking punk types wearing "Facism Sucks" shirts that don't say "Yes, officer," fast enough? Potentially doomed in the wrong situation.

There's a public hearing on August 23 at 6:00 at One Police Plaza (how is it that a public hearing on this and one on Atlantic Yards both get scheduled on the same day at the rear end of August?) and Assemble for Rights NYC is trying to get a decent public showing of people opposed to the new rules that are concerned about how they could be used and abused. Visit Assemble for Rights NYC for more information.

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