Demonstrators have been arrested in New York for violating a 150 year old anti-mask law so I’ve decided to go in masquerade get-up for Halloween and make a sign to use along with the costume in protests against silly laws and the over-exertion of force on the part of police against peaceful protesters.
New York state has a law that bans masked gatherings and police have enforced the rule at protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality, which set up camp in a park in the city’s financial district on September 17.
But the law, dating back to 1845, allows people to wear masks if it is for “a masquerade party or like entertainment.”
Occupy Wall Street has set up Occupy Halloween and said on its website, www.occupyhalloween.org, that protesters had been invited to join the 39th annual Village Halloween Parade.
Occupy Halloween urged protesters to organize costume-themed blocs, suggesting ideas such as Wall Street zombies, corporate vampires and V-masks — the Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the graphic novel “V for Vendetta.”
“For them to enforce that rule on Halloween would be downright un-American,” said Occupy Halloween organizer Gan Golan said of the mask law. The parade is “another opportunity for us to be creative and let people see our message.”
I think I will stand in solidarity with those masked protesters who were arrested and join OccupyHalloween!
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.
The 1845 Masked Law was enacted to prevent armed protesters, tenant farmers from the Hudson Valley, who gathered, protesting loss of income, lowered wheat and farm prices and market bans. They were banned from wearing disguises in their protests. Stephen Van Rensselaer IV was the powerful landlord against whom the farmers protested.
I liked this quote I saw posted in a protest forum:
“Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse.
Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express
critical, minority views …
Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority….
It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the
First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from
retaliation … at the hand of an intolerant society.”
— 1995 Supreme Court ruling McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission
Do your unique part in this movement and share your thoughts in the comments!