2006_7_criticalmass1.jpg

Oh sweet Jesus! Doesn't the city have anything better to do than harass peaceful cyclists? It's only been six months since a judge ruled that the Critical Mass monthly ride didn't require a permit. Rather than comply with the judge's order, the NYPD has decided to simply change the rules. The New York Times reports:

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 — which the department will discuss at a public hearing on Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at police headquarters — 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.

Is it just us, or does requiring small groups of protestors to register with the police smack of the kind of oppression normally found only in Fascist states? Norman Siegel has it exactly right in this quote he provided to the Post: "[the new rule] radically changes expressive activity and the right to protest in the City of New York."

Normally, this sort of change in the law requires the approval of the City Council, so it will no doubt be challenged in court. Still, if you disagree with the new rule, consider going to the meeting on August 23rd. Sadly, that is the same day as the Atlantic Yards public hearing, so you might not be able to go to both.