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Supporters of three imprisoned Russian members of the punk-rock performance group Pussy Riot were arrested today in New York City. Many wore masks in solidarity with the artists, who were sentenced on Friday morning to two years in prison for performing a “punk prayer” protesting President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s central church.

The members of the band gained notoriety for wearing brightly colored balaclavas, knitted masks that obscure their faces. That doesn’t just spell trouble in Moscow – wearing balaclavas in public is also a violation of an old New York law, which may now come back to haunt those rallying in solidarity with the jailed Russian musicians.

Gothamist reports that at least six of the sympathizers in New York City were arrested during their march today from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church on East 97th St. to Times Square. Some reports say the NYPD is arresting marchers for blocking sidewalks. Though it is legal to hold a march or rally on a public sidewalk in the city, it’s illegal to block pedestrian traffic under the penal code and doing so can result in a summons or “pink slip.”

But it is also quite possible that the Pussy Riot marchers are being arrested for their balaclavas. An arcane 1845 New York City loitering law prohibits people from “being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised…”

The law states, however, that “such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if…permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities.”

The marchers’ clearly stated on their Facebook page that they hadn’t received a permit or permission from NYPD to wear the masks. It was a similar problem encountered by Occupy Wall Street in the fall of 2011, when protestors donned Guy Fawkes masks.

Unlike those protests, however, today’s was about showing solidarity with three women who wore balaclavas as a political statement of dissent, making the arrests appear unfortunately ironic.

This past June, in fact, Putin signed his own law that made protestors wearing masks during rallies a crime.

Maybe he got the idea from New York?