Will Rev. Billy Go to Prison?

rev. billy toad protest prison chase bank

Since we closely followed the performance artist/activist Rev. Billy’s mayoral campaign in 2009, his message has shifted from one of general social justice to one of environmental justice, railing against big banks, specifically Chase, for their involvement in funding practices that fuel climate change and ecological destruction. In September he was arrested, as he often is, along with his choir director following a spirited 15-minute protest at a Chase branch in support of golden toads that have gone extinct. The Windsor Terrace resident and his colleague were arrested shortly afterward on an F train platform and later charged with, among other things, rioting in the second degree and menacing in the third degree, both misdemeanors with maximum sentences of a year in prison.

The street preacher was notably nervous in emails to supporters in the days approaching his December 9 hearing date, asking for help in the form of money and signatures of support. But yesterday he announced that the threat of 12 months in legit prison had been removed. “The New York District Attorney dropped charges of Riot and Menacing against me and Nehemiah,” he wrote in an email. “We still face charges of Trespass, but the threat of one year jail is gone. Upon viewing the actual evidence, the District Attorney decided our ‘Riot’ is actually a ‘Musical Presentation.'”

Their next hearing is in February. Already, he’s planning another bank-lobby protest in support of another species facing extinction: “The Honeybee. We are designing our new costumes now. Please join us in this coming year’s bank lobby swarming.”

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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