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Activist Rev. Billy Talen plans $500G suit against MTA for Grand Central Terminal arrest

Performance artist spent night in notorious Tombs jail cell

Rev. Billy Talen has had other run-ins with the law, including this protest in SepCredit: Flickr User Brave New Films

A half a million dollars sure is a lot of money for a guy who fights for the working man and woman – and against mass consumerism.

But $500,000 is exactly what activist and performance artist, the Rev. Billy Talen, intends to sue the MTA for Thursday, two weeks after his arrest in Grand Central Terminal.

Talen was preaching to a group protesting the death of unarmed civilians in confrontations with cops when Metropolitan Transit Authority police took him into custody. He was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice and released by a judge without bail after spending a night in jail.

Lawyers for the 64-year-old professional rabble-rouser are demanding the case be dropped and on Thursday took the first steps toward filing the big bucks lawsuit.

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Metro was curious what Talen would do with all that money but couldn’t reach him for comment. The MTA declined to comment, too.

In a statement, Talen decried the initial allegations that he was physical with authorities during the Jan. 6 tussle: "Both the protesters and the police were peaceful that afternoon. So let’s say that. Don’t be anti-police and don’t be anti-protester. We have an epidemic of violence against black people. That’s the violence."

“The charges against Reverend Billy are confounding,” the activist’s lawyer, Samuel Cohen said. “Reverend Billy was invited to speak in the twenty-third hour of a twenty-four hour vigil, and was arrested while speaking, essentially for doing the same things that other vigil participants had been doing for the past day without being arrested. That alone is offensive to due process. We look forward to vindicating Reverend Billy in the courts.”

 
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