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Bray v. City of New York (Challenging city’s request for injunction against Critical Mass monthly cycling event)

This case concerns, among other issues, the question of whether the court can issue an injunction directed at an expressive event that would run against all potential demonstration participants, including those who are not parties before the court. The five plaintiffs in this case are bicyclists who have participated in a monthly bike ride, known as Critical Mass, which starts in Union Square and proceeds around the city along no pre-designated route. After allowing the event to take place for years, the NYPD arrested over 250 participants in the ride before the 2004 Republican National Convention. The bicycles of the plaintiffs were confiscated, along with those of about 35 other participants. The five riders filed suit in federal court challenging the bike seizures on due process grounds. The city counterclaimed that with a request for a preliminary injunction against the entire event.

On Oct. 28, 2004, the court granted the riders’ request for a preliminary injunction against the NYPD’s seizure of their bicycles and denied the city’s request for a preliminary injunction against the event. After largely unproductive conversations, the ride took place on Oct. 29 and resulted in many arrests. On Dec. 7, 2004, the NYCLU filed an amicus brief claiming that the court should deny the city’s request for a permanent injunction directed at the entire event. The brief argued that the mere prospect of class certification provides no basis for issuing an injunction against nonparties who are merely possible class members.

The brief further argued that while Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does authorize injunctions against a narrow class of nonparties who are legally identified with, under the control of, or actively working in concert with parties before the court, it does not authorize such injunctions when the parties before the court are merely participants in the challenged activity without any other relationship to the nonparties. On Dec. 23, 2004, the District Court denied the city’s request for an injunction, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim. 

S.D.N.Y., Index No. 04 Civ. 8255 (WHP) (amicus) 

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