Matthew Jones of Brooklyn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct after he was arrested in Times Square last June for blocking a sidewalk in Times Square. Now he's appealing his case all the way to the state's highest court. Jones wasn't protesting anything or lying down on the sidewalk, he was simply standing on the corner of 42nd St. and 7th Ave. with a group of friends who were talking. Pedestrian traffic is pretty heavy in Times Square, even at 2 a.m., and a police officer asked him to move because he was impeding the flow of people. When Jones refused, the officer attempted to arrest him but he ran, earning him an additional charge of resisting arrest when he was caught.
The issue before the court is whether it actually is illegal to stand around in a group, obliviously making people walk around you. Does a pair of people who stop at the top of a subway exit stairway to consult a map and figure out which way they want to go deserve to be arrested? Should a person standing immovable in a sidewalk break before a crosswalk while yakking on a cellphone be cited? The New York Times noted that if Jones' conviction is upheld, police may have their hands full in the future, recently observing quite a few people standing around the corner where Jones was arrested. In 2002, The Times attempted to enumerate some basic rules of pedestrian etiquette for the city. They talked to Ilyse Fink, spokeswoman for the Dept. of Buildings at the time.
Ms. Fink volunteered her own pet peeve about city walkers. ''I can't stand when people are standing at the corner talking to their friends or rubbernecking,'' she said. ''I'm like: 'Why don't you move? You don't do that when you are driving a car.' ''
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