Assemble for Rights Press Conference on NYPD Proposals That Would Restrict Public Gatherings

From the Assemble for Rights press release:

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has again proposed undue and constitutionally questionable limits on political speech in New York City. The proposal represents a narrow retreat from a similar proposition that NYPD withdrew two months ago after vociferous opposition from members of the City Council and the public.

The current proposal, which would prohibit public gatherings of as few as ten people who do not first apply for and obtain a permit from the police, will be the subject of public hearings at Police Headquarters on November 27th from 11am to 2pm.

Opposition to the proposal is lead by Assemble for Rights NYC, a coalition joined in this quest by City Council members Rosie Mendez, Charles Barron, Letitia James, and Alan Gerson.  Assemble for Rights represents a diversity of groups which support free speech or which directly use peaceful assembly either for political speech or recreation. The Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, United for Peace and Justice, Housing Works, the Five Boro Bike Club, the New York City Bicycle Coalition, and the Birth Control Project are among the members of the coalition. (See
www.assembleforrightsnyc.org for additional members.)

The public hearing is being held only because it is required by the city charter before the police can implement such rules. In an attempt to minimize public input the hearing is being held the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of the work day.

Assemble for Rights NYC has denounced the Police hearing as a mockery of the democratic process, and will be holding a rally outside of One Police Plaza during the hearing to allow members of the public to gather and express their opposition to Police rulemaking without being forced to endure the indignity of asking the Police Commissioner to reconsider his own proposal from within NYPD headquarters.

City Council member Rosie Mendez stated, "New Yorkers should not have to compromise their right to free assembly for the sake of preserving the ‘public peace.’" and has stated her intention to attend the Police hearings. The prospect of elected representatives being forced to lobby the Police Commissioner as to how the law should be written has raised serious questions about the unchecked power of the NYPD.

The Assemble For Rights Coalition believes that only the New York City Council, as the elected legislative representatives of the people, have the authority to make laws affecting fundamental rights.

Assemble for Rights Director, Mark Taylor stated, "The most shocking thing about this is the City Council is letting the NYPD write the new parade permitting rules. Particularly because this is an area that deals with civil liberties, this is an area we need the New York City Police to be enforcing the rules, not to be writing the law."

Members of Assemble For Rights NYC coalition will be available for comments before and after the hearing.

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