Mask-wearing protestors in D.C. can now be arrested

November 30, 2010

By: Freeman Klopott, Washington Examiner

Wearing a mask while protesting outside a residence without telling D.C. police first could now get you arrested.

The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a strongly worded bill to deal with an animal rights group that has been known to wear masks and appear unannounced outside District residents’ homes shouting things like “You should die.” Residents have been complaining to their council members that they felt “terrorized.” Critics of the bill say it’s too broad and limits First Amendment rights.

“They scared some people so much that they feel like prisoners in their own homes,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who sponsored the Residential Tranquility Act of 2010.

Police can be called, Cheh said, but they don’t always have the legal grounds to arrest the protesters.

The animal rights group in question, Defending Animal Rights Today and Tomorrow is the local offshoot of Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty. The international group was set up in 1996 to organize protests against Huntington Life Sciences, a European company that provides animals for corporate science experiments.

According to the group’s Web site, they recently protested outside the Dupont Circle home of a Goldman Sachs executive, who the group claims is connected to HLS. It’s unclear how, and DARTT didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. Pictures show the protesters wearing masks, and white trench coats with a bloodlike substance on them.

Now, police have the authority to arrest the protesters — groups of three or more — on sight if they:

» Fail to inform police before a protest;

» Protest outside a residence between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.;

» Wear masks.

The American Civil Liberties Union came out against the bill.

To read more at the Washington Examiner:

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