Cops Arrest Wall Street Protesters on Obscure Centuries-Old Mask-Wearing Charges

It seems that the NYPD has invoked some obscure old-school laws to help break up the relatively unthreatening "Occupy Wall Street" protests happening downtown.

So far, causes of arrests have included such dangerous subversions as writing a Gandhi quote with sidewalk chalk and wearing "V" masks.

From the Village Voice's Runnin' Scared Blog: 

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 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.

Superheroes would not be pleased at this discovery of this ancient law.

The Voice also points to a video circulating of the arrest of one such protester--in which you can see that the "threat" posed by the protesters compared the the massive presence of law enforcement is a bit overblown.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at September 21, 2011, 7:05am

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