2006_6_protestor1.jpg

If you've been to an anti-war protest in the last couple of years, you probably recognize Geoffrey Blank. He's a fairly constant presence, especially in Union Square Park-- a big, bear-like guy who really knows how to work the crowd. Apparently he's a bit too loud for the cops, who have arrested him more than seven times for disturbing the peace. Newsday is reporting that Blank is now facing up to four years in prison for his crimes:

I do not see why you need a permit to hold a rally in a park," he says. "I don't even see the need to ask for one, when the United States is fighting for democracy in Iraq."

In any case, he says, he has applied for permits several times and has been denied.

Each time he rallies, he uses the megaphone. And usually, he's arrested, he said.

Now, the 31-year-old sociology student at Brooklyn College is set to go on trial June 21 in Manhattan Criminal Court, accused of inciting to riot, resisting arrest, assault, unlawful assembly, unreasonable noise in a park, unlawful use of a sound device, and disorderly conduct.

Blank's defense: "the First Amendment is a permit." In a more perfect world, yes-- but it seems unlikely to work in Bloomberg's New York City.

Picture of Blank at a 2004 RNC protest from Bluejake.