In September, longtime New York activist Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, led by choir director Nehemiah Luckett, went into a Chase Bank in midtown and made a little music. The two led a choir of eight in a musical protest against mountaintop removal, a controversial form of coal-mining that Chase helps finance. The choir sang a song, then Reverend Billy preached a sermon on Chase's fondness for fossil fuel investments. The whole thing lasted about 15 minutes, according to the choir, who had donned fetching yellow toad hats during the performance.
Photo by Kim Fraczek; image via Facebook. Reverend Billy (white coat, Elvis hair) and Luckett (blue shirt) at a press conference with liberty-loving puppets after this morning's hearing.
For their trouble, as we told you at the time, Luckett and Reverend Billy (real name William Talen) were charged with rioting in the second degree, menacing in the third degree, unlawful assembly, and two counts of disorderly conduct. The rioting and the menacing both carried a possible punishment of one year in prison. But in a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court Monday morning, those charges were greatly reduced. According to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the prosecution reviewed the footage and decided that the whole thing looked more like a musical protest than a riot.More »