Rally Against New NYPD Assembly Rules

CIVIL LIBERTIES ADVOCATES SPEAK OUT AGAINST NEW ASSEMBLY RULES, CITY COUNCILMEMBER MENDEZ VOWS TO REVERSE NYPD RULE CHANGE

Community groups including Transportation Alternatives, civil liberties advocates including Norman Siegel, and members of New York City Council including Rosie Mendez will rally on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 12:00 noon outside One Police Plaza to protest New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly’s most recent attempt to chill the exercise of free speech and gatherings in public places. On Friday Jan. 26, the NYPD promulgated new rules dictating when and by whom parade permits must be obtained.

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez promises to overturn these rules in City Council. Ms. Mendez stated: "I believe that the NYPD ‘s continued attempt to regulate our free speech is unnecessary and continues to infringe on our First Amendment rights…. permits should not be conditioned on an unreasonable and arbitrary number and they should definitely not be required by groups who stay within the limits of the law." Ms. Mendez continued: "I vow to work with my council colleagues to protect First Amendment assembly rights and reverse the NYPD’s amendment."

Citizens and civil rights advocates from across New York City call on the City Council to exercise oversight of the NYPD. Police Commissioner Kelly should not be the arbiter of when and where people can gather on streets to voice their grievance, particularly considering that, at times, those grievance concern NYPD. Assemble For Rights coalition asserts that only New York City Council, as the elected representatives of the people, possess the authority to make laws affecting our civil rights. NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman echoed this position: "changes to our city’s permit laws should be made by the City Council, not the police department."

These new NYPD rules, modifications of rules NYPD sought in August but met with fierce opposition, require that any public gathering by a group of 50 or more obtain a permit. Furthermore, groups of pedestrians and cyclists must apply for permits even if the group is in full compliance with all traffic laws. Anyone without a permit is now subject to arrest. Publishing the new rules means NYPD can begin enforcing them as of Feb. 25.

Section 1 a. of the newly published rules says: "A ‘parade is any procession or race which consists of a recognizable group of 50 or more pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles, or other devices move by human power, or ridden or herded animals proceeding together upon any public street or roadway."

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