Back in October, a man who goes by the name of Reverend Billy, AKA Bill Talen, appeared at JP Morgan to protest the bank's financing of "mountaintop removal, dirty coal, fracking, and other types of fossil fuel extraction." He did so by entering the building, along with members of his Stop Shopping choir who were dressed as frogs, heading up to the third floor (where wealth management offices are located), and belting out a tune on the subject. The Reverend delivered a sermon about JP Morgan's role in climate change (via its investments), and his flock passed out informational pamphlets to clients and employees. They exited stage left and shortly thereafter, Billy and his choir director were arrested while waiting for the F train.
This was not the first time Reverend Billy publicly took issue with what JP Morgan does with its money (in June 2010 he put a "holy hex" on the bank), nor was it a first time a man of the cloth paid a visit to the House of Dimon (in March 2011, a church group led by one "Bishop Cush" performed an exorcism on the steps of 270 Park Avenue, sprinkling holy water on the building in an effort to "chase the demons out of Chase").
But something about this particular exercise struck a chord and now, the Reverend is facing up to 1 year in prison. That's where you come in.
This past Monday, they were charged with, among other things, riot in the second degree and menacing in the third degree, both of which, while misdemeanors, carry penalties of up to one year in prison. Their trial will start December 9th. The question to be answered: Was this “a criminal stunt,” as the assistant district attorney described it? Or was it merely an expression protected by the First Amendment? Years of precedent would suggest it is the latter.
Reverend Billy is hoping others feel similarly, and has asked that anyone looking to show support, defend the First Amendement, or protect their future right to show up at JP Morgan's headquarters in a nun's habit and bring the house down with a little ditty about [insert cause of choice here] sign this petition.
Environmental Activist Reverend Billy Is Possibly Facing Up To One Year In Prison [Forbes]
Climate activist Reverend Billy faces prison time for JP Morgan stunt [Metro]
REVEREND BILLY FACES ONE YEAR IN JAIL, ASKS FOR PETITION SIGNATURES [Change]
Related: Church Group Performs ‘Exorcism’ On Steps Of JPMorgan; New Mission: Get This Guy In A Room With Ken Lewis