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NYCLU Questions Arrests At “Critical Mass” Bicycle Action

The New York Civil Liberties Union had legal monitors at last night’s Critical Mass bicycle ride, which was the largest demonstratiojn of its kind in New York. This event has been taking place for 10 years in the City and largely has been ignored by the police. Whatever the wisdom of cracking down at this juncture, the NYCLU questions the results. We have received scattered reports of wrongful arrests and excessive force. We are also concerned that on several occasions the police failed to give demonstrators required warnings to clear the streets. The NYCLU will follow up on these reports and disseminate what we learn.

The NYCLU is co-sponsoring the March for Women’s Lives this morning at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. Tens of thousands of pro-choice supporters, bouyed by the favorable federal court decision on abortion this week, will be marching across the Brooklyn Bridge beginning at 12pm to a rally at City Hall Park.

The NYCLU also will have teams of monitors in Central Park throughout the day to observe any protest activity, in the wake of ANSWER’s promise to gather and demonstrate in Central Park. NYCLU monitors also will be on the scene at the Green Party Festival in Washington Square Park beginning at 11am; and we will be on hand for the Starbucks Action at 36th Street and Madison Avenune scheduled for 1pm-4pm.

The NYCLU is pleased that the New York State Division of Parole has rescinded its plan to direct parolees essentially to stay out of Manhattan during the RNC. This was a wrong-headed decision that arose out of the Bronx office in a form letter to parolees warning them to stay out of Manhattan unless they were employed there. If they were employed in Manhattan, they were specifically directed to stay away from the designated frozen zone during the convention. While parolees do not have unlimited rights, they do not lose their First Amendment rights by nature of their status. When we brought this matter to the attention of the Division Director, the Bronx office was directed to rescind these “special conditions.”

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