In the never ending quest of the NYPD to try and deal with Critical Mass, their next move on the chess board is this…
Article in NYTIMES
Police Seek New Controls on Protesters and Bicyclists
By AL BAKER
Published: July 19, 2006 NYTimes Metro Section
The Police Department wants to require parade permits for bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more, and any bicyclists or walkers who take to the streets in groups of two or more and disobey traffic laws for things like parades, races or protests, according to a public notice filed with the city.
The department also wants to require a parade permit for groups of 35 or more protesters who restrict themselves to the sidewalk, officially clarifying a regulation that court rulings described as too vague, according to a police spokesman.
Taken together, the three new rules â€” which the department will discuss at a public hearing on Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at police headquarters â€” would redefine the type of protest and the number of protesters allowed to demonstrate in New York City without first applying for approval from the Police Department.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the new rules, if adopted, would â€œthreaten to substantially restrict protests.â€
Other critics of the department have questioned whether the police are authorized to make such changes without approval from the City Council, but Paul J. Browne, the Police Departmentâ€™s chief spokesman, said the police commissioner had the authority under the City Charter to amend regulations concerning public safety.
Mr. Browne said that after recent court rulings found the departmentâ€™s parade regulations too vague, the department moved to clarify them with these amendments. As a practical matter, he said, the department always believed it had the authority to make arrests under the existing regulations and often did.
â€œA permit effectively allows activities that would otherwise be illegal, such as disregarding traffic signals or blocking pedestrian traffic, to go forward with the police making accommodations such as the rerouting of pedestrian or vehicular traffic,â€ Mr. Browne said. â€œNothing in the amendments changes the penalties.â€
In its notice, the department said the rules were necessary for public safety. â€œThese amendments are intended to clarify the circumstances under which groups using city streets or sidewalks for purposes of assembly are required to obtain a permit,â€ the notice said.
â€œBy clarifying the type of activity that constitutes a parade and is thus required to obtain a permit,â€ the notice said, â€œthese rules are designed to protect the health and safety of participants in group events on the public streets and sidewalks and members of the public who find themselves in the vicinity of these events.â€
Advocates for bicyclists and others said the two new rules for bicyclists appeared to stem from the departmentâ€™s and the cityâ€™s continuing dispute with bicyclists over monthly Critical Mass rides around Manhattan. The rides are held on the last Friday evening of each month to advocate nonpolluting forms of transportation.
In the case of requiring two or more bicyclists or walkers to get a permit, the department is simply trying to prevent participants in public protests like Critical Mass from blocking traffic. Under the changed rules, the police would control traffic, as they do in customary parades. On Feb. 14, a judge suggested that the city consider changing its rules for what constitutes a parade or procession, a lawyer for the group, Norman Siegel, said yesterday. That case is still pending, Mr. Siegel said.
Mr. Siegel questioned whether the department had the authority to change the definitions of when a parade permit is needed.
â€œMy instinctive reaction is he cannot do this, it has to go to the City Council,â€ Mr. Siegel said, referring to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
Mr. Browne said the commissionerâ€™s powers were clear. Notably, during the Republican National Convention in 2004, the police spontaneously allowed some protests to go ahead, on sidewalks or in the streets, even without march permits.
Mr. Siegel said that even if the police had the authority to change the rules, â€œitâ€™s antithetical to the principles and values of the right to protest that New York is associated with. This is simply unacceptable.â€
Some officials, including Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., said the police seemed to be within guidelines in amending the rules, which he said were considered part of internal rules the department can change, rather than administrative codes written by lawmakers.
In the court case, the city is claiming that bicyclists who ride together need a permit, while defendants say they encourage riders to ride together in small groups for safety, â€œuntil the city creates a safe bicycling infrastructure,â€ said Bill DiPaola, the director of Timeâ€™s Up, a nonprofit environmental group in the city.
In a previous case, Judge William H. Pauley III of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that bicyclists did not need a permit to ride in groups, said Mr. DiPaola, whose group provides legal support for Critical Mass participants.
I hate to flatter myself and think this is about just the bikers…but I think it is an accurate assessment in what has prompted this behavior and again it is really sad. Civilians are being killed in Lebanon in response to military actions taken by Hezbollah, thus further destabilizing an already unstable Middle East. Bush pulls a Veto of important scientific research that could save thousands of lives in order to protect human life and we are worried about how many people march in the streets in NYC??? Repeat after me…P-O-L-I-C-E S-T-A-T-E.
and about this part from the article…Mr. Browne said the commissionerâ€™s powers were clear. Notably, during the Republican National Convention in 2004, the police spontaneously allowed some protests to go ahead, on sidewalks or in the streets, even without march permits.
ALLOWED PROTESTS TO GO AHEAD???? uhhh, nothing was allowed…every demonstration I went to during the RNC and I went to pretty much all of them was meet with serious resistance from the NYPD…have we all forgotten so soon…the detaining on the sidewalk, the arrests, 48 hours in a garbage dump toxic bus depot, breaking up gatherings with a moped goon squad that ran us over with mopeds, random searches…yes they really allowed us a lot. How nice of them.
Somehow the NYPD keeps forgetting this silly little thing we have called THE CONSTITUTION…that GUARANTEES our rights of FREE ASSEMBLY. WE SHALL HAVE TO REMIND THEM.
Can you imagine asking for APPROVAL from the police department to exercise your constitutional rights????? Excuse me officer 35 of my friends would like to go for a walk…is that ok with you? No? Oh I have to file for a permit? Ok I did that? Oh you took 2 weeks to respond to me and now its too late? Damn, oh well better luck next time? “F that!”
If you believe in Freedom as an American please come to this public hearing, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at police headquarters.
There will be a press conference on this new proposed ruling at the Time’s Up Space today at 10:30am, 49 East Houston St.
I feel sick.
Once we have all been embedded with electronic monitoring devises none of this will mater. The police can just arrest through blue tooth when we even think about protesting. Can’t wait.
this is number 5647478 signing off, awaiting reprogramming and permission from the NYPD.
Please leave comments on what you think of this…
Meanwhile I am getting lots of reports of police harassment towards bikers…like this story:
Hi, I read your blog occasionally to keep up on bicycle events in NYC. I recall reading on the blog a few days ago about the cops cracking down in central park and the thing that caught my attention was they were going to use radar guns. Well tonight (7/17/06) on my way home from work I was crossing the Williamsburg Bridge and when I get off the bridge in Brooklyn an unmarked cop car was sitting there. Sure enough a block later he pulls me over. He goes through this whole long thing. The jist of it is he claims I was doing 33mph down the bridge which is rated 30mph. I highly doubt I was going over 20mph. I use to ride with a speedometer and I never broke 30mph. I ride a mountain bike with street tires which are pretty wide but light tread…. Anyways I didn’t think he was going to ticket me for the claimed 3mph over. He randomly asks if I am aware of the laws regarding riding on the sidewalk which I wasn’t doing and he never accused me of doing. He then went on to ask if I had a bell and lights even though it wasn’t dark yet and lights weren’t needed but I showed I had them anyways. They said they had some tool to test the blinking speed of the lights and they were going to test but then decided not to. They mentioned my treads were almost warn out. They also took my ID and recorded info off of it and asked me generic questions like how long had I been riding and how often do I ride. It seems to me they pull over bikers claiming they are speeding even though they have no plans for ticketing for it even if it were true (who is going to ticket for 3mph over?) Then what they want to write you tickets for is lack of bell and lights.
Just wanted to give you a heads up. What interests me is if a lot of people are getting caught in the same situation. Getting accused of doing speeds they could never dream of doing then having their bike inspected. It seems if this is happening to everyone then we could probably file complaints against the city for harrassment. I have never heard of people getting pulled over for speeding and even getting a ticket for it then having their car fully inspected inside and out….