If You Protest in NYC, Don’t Wear Masks

Sep 20, 2011
10:07 am


With news coming out of Wall Street via Twitter (#OccupyWallStreet, #TakeWallStreet, #OurWallStreet), an obscure 150-year-old New York City law banning wearing masks has led to five arrests in the past four days of demonstrations. As reported by New York Magazine:


Since the start of the Occupy Wall Street protest on Saturday, at least five people have been cited for violating a little-known New York law that bans masks at gatherings of two or more people unless it's "a masquerade party or like entertainment." Carnival-style fun isn't exactly the point at the financial district demonstrations, albeit exact goals are still pretty undefined. Nonetheless, demonstrators are now "acutely aware" of the obscure statute, which dates back to uprisings in 1845, when the price of wheat dipped:

After [landowner Stephen Van Rensselaer IV] moved to evict tenants, disgruntled farmers disguised themselves as "Indians," dressed in "calico gowns and leather masks" and attacked agents of the landlords. The court papers said the tactics adopted by these rebel groups ranged from "tarring and feathering" to murder, including a sheriff.