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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
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Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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Is picketing in New York legal

Customer Question

Is picketing in New York legal?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 7 years ago.

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Picketing, by itself, is not unlawful. However, the time, place, and manner of picketing may be regulated.

If you're interested in the law of public demonstrations, you will enjoy the article at the following link.
http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/constitution/amendment01/20.html

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I am in New York state and have a group of people that want to picket a business that sells British Petroleum products. We just need to know what the laws are and what we are or are not allowed to do.
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 7 years ago.
I'll opt out and maybe someone else will wish to provide more information.

Please do not respond to this message. Doing so locks the question to me and prevents others from responding.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 7 years ago.
Hello,

You have the right to peaceful assembly. But you have to refrain from conduct which would cause you to offend any of the NYS statutes that are offenses against public order such as:

Section 240.10 Unlawful assembly

A person is guilty of unlawful assembly when he assembles with four or more other persons for the purpose of engaging or preparing to engage with them in tumultuous and violent conduct likely to cause public alarm, or when, being present at an assembly which either has or develops such purpose, he remains there with intent to advance that purpose.

Unlawful assembly is a class B misdemeanor.
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Section 240.20 Disorderly conduct

A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:

1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or

2. He makes unreasonable noise; or

3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or

4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or

5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or

6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or

7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

Disorderly Conduct is a violation
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Section 240.05 Riot in the second degree

A person is guilty of riot in the second degree when, simultaneously with four or more other persons, he engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly causes or creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.

Riot in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
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Section 240.06 Riot in the first degree

A person is guilty of riot in the first degree when he:

1. Simultaneously with ten or more other persons, engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly causes or creates a grave risk of causing public alarm, and in the course of and as a result of such conduct, a person other than one of the participants suffers physical injury or substantial property damage occurs; or

2. While in a correctional facility, as that term is defined in subdivision four of section two of the correction law, simultaneously with ten or more other persons, engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly causes or creates a grave risk of causing alarm within such correctional facility and in the course of and as a result of such conduct, a person other than one of the participants suffers physical injury or substantial property damage occurs.

Riot in the first degree is a class E felony.

Section 240.08 Inciting to riot

A person is guilty of inciting to riot when he urges ten or more persons to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to create public alarm.

Inciting to riot is a class A misdemeanor.

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You get the point. Stay organized and don't get aggressive, don't block doorways and do make room for pedestrian traffic to get past you unthreatened.

You'll find this link of interest. It's a recent case involving picketing in NYC and it will lay down the issues for you.

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This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your State for specific legal advice.

Edited by FranL on 6/8/2010 at 3:40 AM EST