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Man arrested for preaching free speech

July 1, 2007 at 4:16 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, July 1 (UPI) -- A man dressed as a preacher was arrested last week in New York's Union Square after allegedly harassing police officers about his free speech rights.

Authorities said the Reverend Billy, whose real name is Bill Talen, was arrested after using a bullhorn to detail the free speech rights he enjoys under the First Amendment, The New York Times reported Sunday. Police said they repeatedly asked Talen to cease his sermon Friday, but were forced to charge him with second-degree harassment after he refused to do so.

Talen's free speech sermon came as police were preparing for the beginning of the New York's Critical Mass bicycle rally. The monthly rally has long drawn a significant police presence due to repeated incidences involving the rally's numerous participants.

Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel witnessed Talen's arrest and he told the Times he would represent the pseudo-preacher in court.

"Reverend Billy has a First Amendment right to recite the First Amendment," he said.

© 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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