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NYPD Defends Arresting Wall Street Protesters For Wearing Masks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mask gatherings are illegal in New York, with the exception of masquerade parties.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman With The Story

It may be an old law – on the books since 1845 – and it may be obscure, but Paul Browne, the NYPD deputy commissioner for public information, says it’s there for a reason.

Police have used the law five times this week at the protests on Wall Street.

“A couple of people put masks on, and then enter a bank, for example, which three of them did. We caught two. One fled. The police are going to stop them,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman.

The law was originally put on the books in an attempt to stop uprisings by farmers who used disguises to attack police.

“That has become a worldwide phenomenon when you have people that are declaring war on Wall Street and anarchy that they often cover their faces, not only in this country [but] in other countries. So, we always have to be on top of that because obviously these things have a way of spinning out of control,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s a tool, a device that allows police, in situations like the other day, to try to prevent serious breaches of the peace.”

Obviously, the law is not enforced on Halloween.

Do you think the law is useful or obsolete? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • Fred Derf

    so, if there’s any Islamic gathering cops have to arrest some women

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is being done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

    • Vince

      That’s a good question. What did the French and Aussies do? Outlaw the wear of such nonsense in public

  • Merrill Lynch VP

    Those protesters should be arrested and put in jail…Don’t blame us for the economy’s woes…. We are working folks too.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    I wish Obamas wife would wear a mask in public that is one ugly woman

  • BiteTheHandThatFeedsU

    All the firms on Wall street should up and move. New York City would be Detroit in 6 months….

    • Kevin Pearson

      If Arkansas wasn’t such a terrible place to do business for all the “Jethros” and the “Boss Hoggs”, I would suggest Little Rock as a place to relocate (That’s where Stephens Bank Corp is located)
      Fred Smith started FedEx in Little Rock, but because it is not a very business friendly state, he moved it to Memphis

  • Nick

    It doesn’t matter if they walked into a Bank. A Law cannot be Selectively Enforced. In a democratic state, you either enforce the law or not. You can’t pick and chose. That’s discriminatory behavior on the gestapos’ part.

    • Vince

      Tell you what Nick there are many so called laws that are almost never enforced.
      You’re not suppose to have your car stereo too loud and yet many times I see cop cars drive right by as cars are blasting the streets. Once or twice when I said something to a cop I was told to mind my own fu**in business.
      Back in the 1950s and 60s there were the blue laws that said your store couldn’t open on Sundays and yet they would open and very few were fined. So Nick the cops do pick and chose they always have.


      If i was on line in a bank and someone comes in with a mask they are catching a beating.Where is the common sense here.Everyone know you wear a mask in a bank you are asking for trouble.

    • Kevin Pearson

      Laws are ALWAYS selectively enforced. Laws exist to two reasons and two reasons only

      1) Revenue (do you REALLY think that seat laws are about public safety. Hardly, they are about paying the salaries of the extra cops hired to write tickets for seat belt violations )
      2) To intimidate, and disenfranchise political opponents. (some as the farmers stated above) for example, sexual harassment ONLY applies to conservative Supreme Court nominees, and NEVER to Democrat presidents with fidelity issues.

  • NMC

    Did you all read WHY they were arrested? They walked into a BANK wearing masks and one of them ran. If I’m standing in a bank and you walk in with a mask on, I hope someone will do something!

  • Juliano Ramon Ramos

    Funny. Josh Sullivan of the NY Times reported on 5/2/2000 about how the KKK were allowed to wear masks. Meanwhile these non-racial protesters are not.

    • The Facts

      It is my recollection that the last time the KKK showed up in NYC they were told not to use their hoods or face arrest. They wore only thier robes and were allowed to hold a small demonstration.

    • Daniel

      That’s because the KKK and NYPD are kindred spirits, why would the police bust their own?

  • Daniel

    The Law is obviously obsolete and discriminatory in nature. I’m willing to bet they’ve never busted a group of Muslim women wearing veils either have they? No. Laws must be enforced 100% or 0% and taken off the books. There is no room in police work for interpretation.

  • mj

    the police will take WHATEVER they can get away with. they’re NOT proud … they’re cops

  • Linda

    Good job NYPD. Keep the law in place and it should apply to burkas also. If and when anyone comes to America they should respect American laws and abide by them. Learn English, history, laws and customs. It always used to be this way, when did all this change that now we are expected to change for foreigners ? Not a great idea people.

    • Daniel

      Funny you say learn history but you apparently have no knowledge of it yourself. People have been fighting against laws in this country against Americans since the days immediately after our independence…. You never heard of Shay’s Rebellion? I think you need to shut up and read some before you speak again.

  • Vik

    it’s a silly law if you’re a bleeding heart, whiny f’in annoying liberal. Good – glad they got arrested. You don’t like the law — GTF out of New York City.

    • Vince

      No you get out of NYC we don’t need people like you.
      Anyway who says I’m a liberal (I am) trust me there are many folks on both sides who don’t like and/or disagree with this SILLY law.
      To tell the truth I didn’t know such a STUPID law was on the books.

    • Ciao

      Really? I thought that if I didn’t like a law it was my right as an American to elect representatives who feel the same way and try to change that law. I guess all laws should be held as they are right now and forever, so I’m glad people will stop fighting against a womans right to choose and keep creationism out of schools.

  • The Facts

    This law was used a few years ago to prevent Ku Klux Klan members from wearing their hoods at a demonstration. It is a useful tool to have.

  • marc

    I am surprised the cops didn’t handle their junk and deny Miranda rights. Wall st is the capitol now and international banks set policy in washinton not your so called elected representatives.

  • Vince

    You took the words right out of my mouth Pugphan.
    To tell the truth this is the first time I’ve heard of such a silly law.
    Looks like The Flash, Batman and Green Lantern better stay out of NYC lol

  • CH

    Damn, Halloween is going to keep them pretty busy.

    • Vince

      Read it again CH they said not during that day.

  • pugphan

    That’s way cool but lets also apply that logic to Burkas too. smokersodysseycom

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