150-Year-Old Law Against Wearing Masks Used to Arrest Wall Street Demonstrators

Yesterday we reported that seven people had been arrested for participating in Occupy Wall Street, the vaguely defined, relatively disorganized financial-district protest that's been going on (and dwindling down) for the past few days. Amid accusations of excessive police force, there was also the question of what, exactly, the protesters were being arrested for. Turns out, there's a 150-year-old New York City law that bans "masked gatherings." Five of the people arrested have been issued a violation for wearing masks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 28-year-old Max Hodes, along with a few other people wearing bandanas, were pulled from a line of protestors and taken to the 1st Precinct, where he was issued a summons for "loitering and wearing [a] mask." According to the New York Times, two men wearing masks and a woman with a plastic mask on the back of her head -- possibly Anonymous "V" masks -- were also arrested.

The anti-mask law goes back to 1845, when tenant farmers used disguises (dressing up like Indians) to attack law enforcement officials, apparently. In 1965 the law was updated to prevent masked gatherings of two or more people, except in the case of masquerade parties. Whew.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said that in other protests in other cities, demonstrators have worn masks in the hopes of escaping identification and engaged in vandalism and confrontations with the cops. But, it sounds like the police mask-defense is more of a handy solution for quelling the protest effort and less about any real danger done by the "masked" (or bandana-clad) demonstrators.

Here's video of at least one arrest (you can see at 0:04, the guy who is detained at 0:08 has the mask up on his head, not covering his face).

Two others were arrested on Monday for writing on a sidewalk with chalk -- a Gandhi quote, to be specific.

Rare Charge Is Unmasked [WSJ]

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

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next halloween they will need the army to arrest everyone in new york... PIGS!

Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell

3500 year old law use to arrest someone for murder.

Hey Jen, I can do it too!


I support the 9/17 "Occupy Wall Street" event and the 10/6 "Stop the Machine" event. I recognize that in so doing I am allying myself with people who do not share all of my political beliefs, that I will be standing side-by-side in protest with those of the Far Left - including Communists, Socialists and Anarchists - as well as those of the Far Right - including Libertarians, Tea Partyists and Ron Paulists. But politics makes for strange bedfellows, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.


I hereby openly and before God and the Kleptocracy endorse and stand ready to support the "Occupy Wall Street" event:


I also hereby reverse my previous position and guidance, and reinstate my support for the "Stop the Machine" event:


I recognize that in so doing I am allying myself with people who do not share all of my political beliefs, that I will be standing side-by-side in protest with those of the Far Left - including Communists, Socialists and Anarchists - as well as those of the Far Right - including Libertarians, Tea Partyists and Ron Paulists - and that their race, ethnicity and name for the Almighty may differ from mine.  But politics makes for strange bedfellows, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all who join this protest agree that our Ruling Omnipotent Fascist Kleptocracy is the enemy of all Mankind.

I ask those more closely associated with these events to consider me at their disposal to support to the limits of my resources and abilities any and all actions - including non-violent civil disobedience - aimed at toppling the Kleptocracy, exposing the truth about 9/11, repealing the Patriot Act, reversing Citizens United v. FEC, ending our perpetual wars for oil and profit, retrieving the trillions of dollars stolen from or made burden of the taxpayers, and restoring Jeffersonian Democracy and the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America.

Lastly, I recognize that making this pledge public may have ramifications including and not limited to being placed on no-fly or other surveillance lists, and for that I say Big Brother be damned:  I do this for my grandchildren, in hopes they can grow up as free citizens rather than indentured slaves.




It's the Federal Reserve and the IMF etc folkswall street is the tool they use.


The protest is a great idea, but you're not getting the message out!  People need to know what you're all about and I assume that you are about Democracy and not Bureacracy!  The public doesn't really care that our economic structure is falling down around us and it's not government's fault, it's Wall Street's fault.  Corperate America is doing fine and they could care less about the rest of the people in America, as long as they have what they want, screw everyone else.  Wall Street is in control, they have our government in their pockets, right along with our tax dollars.  When will the American wake up and realize that they no longer control their own government, big business controls it and they are running the economy into the ground!!@!!

Alan MacDonald
Alan MacDonald

Wall Street is berry berry successful in looting American (and the world) without using masks, so the movement/insurrection/revolution "Against Empire" can be successful without masks, and merely by publicly 'calling out'  and  confronting Empire.  Although the founders of the First American Revolution "Against Empire" did use the masks and costumes of Indians when they took civil action against the integrated and interwoven political/financial/militarist and media of the global British Empire in attacking the royally chartered British East India Corporation's tea ships in Boston.  Unfortunately, most modern Tea Partiers don't even have the knowledge of history that Michele Bachman does, and thus don't understand that our colonial leaders were attacking that global Empire at the real Tea Party -- and were certainly not attaking the nascent elements of their own government.

The minor step of "Occupying Wall Street" is reallyjust the first step in "The Coming Insurrection" [Negri] orthe global revolution "Against Empire"[Parenti]:Naturally, there is little media coverage by theruling global corporate/financial/militarist Empire which nowcontrols our former country by hiding behind the facade of its'bought and owned' TWO-Party modernized "Vichy" sham offaux-democratic government --- just as the Nazi Empire when it wastrying to control Europe and the world installed its crude,first-generation, single-party "Vichy" facade of governmentin Vichy France c. 1940.What is starting to happen today inthis uncoordinated 'Occupy Wall Street' protest in the US, which isthe nominal and temporary headquarters of this entirely new scale ofpost-nation-state global Empire, is the beginning of what couldquickly become a Second American (and world) Revolution "AgainstEmpire" [Michael Parenti] --- and that naturally scares thehidden, well disguised, and generally undiagnosed globalcorporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE to death --- and thus they (theglobal Empire) will use all power in their hands; political, media,money, and ultimately military, to crush this nascent, if improperlynamed revolution "Against Empire"AlanMacDonaldSanford, MaineLiberty &democracyoverviolentempireNew America People'sParty 2012 -- our last chance "Against Empire"

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