For Immediate Release
Reverend Billy Faces Up To One Year in Jail After Arrest For Sermon in Grand Central Terminal
Will Defend His Freedom of Speech at March 10th Trial
NEW YORK, NY - Activist and stage performer William Talen, also known as “Reverend Billy,” was arrested by Metropolitan Transportation Authority police while delivering a sermon in Grand Central Terminal during a peaceful vigil for unarmed civilians killed by police.
Yesterday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office decided not to dismiss the case. In court, Reverend Billy waived his right to file any motion, requested a short adjournment and a trial date. The case is now set for trial on March 10, 2015.
“New York City police stop protests they don't like by cuffing us, 700 of us or one of us, put us in the Tombs or a bus garage overnight, then offer credit for time served and freedom from jail time if we plead guilty,” said Reverend Billy. “But they should have been protecting our First Amendment in the first place, not feeling threatened by it. The cops say you can beat the rap but you have to take the ride. Not anymore! Free-Speech-a-lujah!”
In the wake of his arrest, the MTA, through spokespersons, alleged that Talen had attacked or pushed police, though video of the interactions between Talen and MTA police show that Talen did not push or attack police officers. Video refuting these claims is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPRa8aRSo20.
Talen’s attorneys have also filed a notice of intent to sue the MTA for false arrest, First Amendment retaliation, libel, slander, and other related claims on Mr. Talen’s behalf.
Attorney Wylie Stecklow noted “Reverend Billy is known around the world as a peaceful advocate for the survival of the environment and justice for all. By falsely accusing him of attacking police, the MTA has placed a target on his back. This continues to jeopardize his safety while harming his reputation. The attorneys at Stecklow Cohen & Thompson are committed to clearing Reverend Billy’s name and seeking redress for the violation of his rights by the MTA.”
William Talen is both an activist, a stage performer and author of many books. As "Reverend Billy" he pursues these parallel careers with the 35-voice Stop Shopping Choir under the direction of Savitri D. Talen and company lead a movement of nonviolent dramatic action, belting out their freedom-fighting lyrics in JP Morgan Chase bank lobbies, Wal-Marts and on the front lawn of Monsanto World Headquarters. Talen and the Stop Shopping Choir are artists in residence at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in New York. Business Insider published a profile of Talen this month.
Talen and the Stop Shopping Choir have won an OBIE Award, the Alpert Award, The Dramalogue Award and The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House), and many of the singing activists have been jailed while exercising their first amendment rights. Reverend Billy has been arrested or detained more than 50 times.
Talen and Savitri D live together with their daughter in Brooklyn, with many policemen and women as neighbors. For more info, visit www.revbilly.com.
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