Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reverend Billy back in the news...

photo by Annie Tritt for The New York Times

A Street Performer Crusades for the First Amendment

What is the purpose of the First Amendment?

That was the question before a judge in Manhattan Criminal Court yesterday, as a street performer named Reverend Billy, a k a William Talen, faced charges of harassing police officers in Union Square Park by reciting the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Mr. Talen — the white-suited, blond-pompadoured leader of the mock Church of Stop Shopping who is perhaps best known for his crusade against Starbucks — was arrested June 29. He had joined a protest against the city’s new permit requirements for the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rally and proposed restrictions on photographers and filmmakers in public places.

He was charged with two counts of second-degree harassment, under a statute originally intended for use against stalkers. He was accused of following a group of officers while repeatedly reciting the 40-odd words of the First Amendment through a megaphone, the kind commonly used by cheerleaders. (continue at

Reverend Billy performs with the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir
Sunday October 7 at Highline Ballroom

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