Volume 76, Number 15 | August 30 -September 5, 2006

Gerson won’t put on brakes on new legislation on permits

City Councilmember Alan Gerson said that, despite the Police Department’s recent withdrawal of changes in parade-permit regulations affecting groups of pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles, he has started the process of introducing legislation in the Council to insure there is no abridgement of First Amendment rights to protest or assemble.

Gerson has taken the first step by submitting a draft of his proposals to the Council’s Law Department for review.

“We are going to pursue legislation,” Gerson told The Villager. “The way we pursue it, obviously, the timetable is now changed. And I hope we’ll be able to do it cooperatively with the administration. But one way or the other, there remains the important principle that no administrative agency, including the N.Y.P.D., should be able by fiat to change rules and regulations governing something as important as First Amendment rights to assembly and protest without the involvement of the legislative branch of government. Obviously, we’re talking about general rules, not responding to emergency situations, which is within their purview.

“So, clearly, I think we do need to proceed with the establishment of a general rule or general procedure,” Gerson said. “And we’re going to continue that effort — in consultation with First Amendment experts and the N.Y.P.D. — so we don’t find ourselves in this same situation again in a future administration, or this administration.”

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