UM Press author declared not guilty of trespass charges from 2010 event

by University of Michigan Press on November 1, 2011

University of Michigan Press author and activist/performance artist Reverend Billy Talen was found not guilty of Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree on Thursday, October 20th.

Talen and The Stop Shopping Choir, directed by Savitri D, entered the lobby of the UBS Bank in midtown Manhattan on Black Friday 2010 dressed as angels. Savitri D, Bill Talen and editor Alisa Solomon are the authors of The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping.

Shortly after singing songs that highlighted the bank’s corrupt financial interest in coal extraction organizations using mountaintop removal, Talen was arrested, charged, and faced up to three months in jail.

Thanks to some confusion about whether or not the building was closed to the public on that day, Talen was found not guilty this month. His attorney Wylie Stecklow commented, “Reverend Billy enjoyed support from Occupy Wall Street, as the message remains the same: Corporate domination of our political elections and legislative branches, millions of dollars spent in lobbying to influence deregulation, must end.  Living, breathing people must be given a voice in our participatory democracy.”

Actively involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, many of those in Reverend Billy’s community are demanding that corporations follow through with their environmental policies, and they also vow to continue pressuring corporations to include communities in their decision making process.

“Mountain Top Removal is killing people in Appalachia and destroying one of the most glorious and biodiverse regions in the world. Today I witnessed a judge do the right thing, he heard the arguments and honored his conscience. The spirit of the 99% is rising,” Talen wrote.

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