Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

OBAMA SIGNS ‘TRESPASS BILL’ CRIMINALIZING PROTEST

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” - Amendment I, United States Constitution. 

President Obama has signed into law a bill that makes it a federal offense to protest wherever a person or event is under Secret Service protection, and there isn’t a singe story in the corporate mainstream media about it.

RT reports that the Orwellian-sounding Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, or H.R. 347 in Congress-speak, criminalizes any action which would “impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions,” as well as behavior which  “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.”

H.R. 347, casually called the ‘trespass bill,’ makes it a crime to “knowingly” enter a restricted area under Secret Service protection. The law slightly amends earlier legislation that made it an offense to knowingly and willfully enter such areas. The omission of “willfully” makes it much easier to prosecute protesters who don’t realize that they entered into a Secret Service-protected zone, which is easy to do since the Secret Service doesn’t always advertise their presence.

The Secret Service protects not only President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their families, but also former presidents, visiting foreign dignitaries, presidential candidates and a host of other figures and events. Under the new law, peacefully protesting any of these is now a federal offense. Say goodbye to “glitter-bombing” activists, Code Pink interruptions, Occupy mic-checks and pro-Palestinian disruptions of visiting Israeli leaders’ speeches.

Of course, that’s probably why Obama is signing the law. This administration has arguably done more to eviscerate constitutional rights than any in living memory. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. The contraception mandate trampled religious freedom. Attorney General Eric Holder last week announced that the administration has embraced the assassination of U.S. citizens without charge, trial or any form of due process. And now this.

One cannot help but think that this new law targets the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is gearing up for a year of massive protests. There’s the NATO summit in Chicago in May, followed by the Republican and Democratic national conventions in the summer, then the 2012 general elections. H.R. 347 must certainly meant to have a chilling effect on constitutionally-protected free speech and assembly rights.

Also troubling is the fact that the language of the bill is (intentionally?) vague, not defining what “impeding” or “disrupting” actually consists of. That could make it easier to prosecute anyone who the government decides to target.

The odious measure was first passed by the Senate and then by the House of Representatives, which voted 388-3 in favor of it. The only House members to reject this alarming evisceration of the First Amendment were two Tea Party Republicans– Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Paul Broun of Georgia, and GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul of Texas. Not one single Democrat voted “no.”

So, to recap: your government can now lock you up indefinitely without charge nor trial, assassinate you if it deems you to be a threat and arrest and imprison you for up to 10 years for exercising your constitutional rights.

God bless America.

 

Here is the full text of H.R. 347:

112th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 347


AN ACT
To correct and simplify the drafting of section 1752 (relating to restricted buildings or grounds) of title 18, United States Code. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011′.

SEC. 2. RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.

    Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds

    (a) Whoever–
      (1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
      (2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
      (3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
      (4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
    or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
    (b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is–
      (1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if–
      (A) any person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
      (B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
      (2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
    (c) In this section–
      (1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area–
      (A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
      (B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
      (C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
        (2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title when such person has not declined such protection.’.

 

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17 Comments

  1. Matt FalconMarch 11, 2012 at 11:49 pmReply

    Wow. Well, I’m pretty sure this comment is going to be “held for moderation” (nothing says free speech like holding comments for hand-picked approval) – and I’ll be damn shocked if it isn’t…

    But this is bullshit. All you’ve got to do is read section (c) to have this entire article turned around into the bullshit it is. Did anyone even read the full text all the way through?

    Some more good information I found, from the actual organization that studies this subject:
    http://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/how-big-deal-hr-347-criminalizing-protest-bill

    “It’s important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn’t create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.”

    Eat your words.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 12, 2012 at 12:01 amReplyAuthor

      Bullshit? How is eviscerating nearly each of the most important amendments in the Bill of Rights bullshit? I wonder, what kind of person would defend the stripping away of the most fundamental constitutional rights we’re supposed to enjoy?

      It doesn’t matter whether the bill creates any new crimes or not. By signing this bill, Obama has double-downed on the criminalization of protest which the original measure established in 1971.There is nothing factually incorrect about the language I chose to use.

      I never said the bill creates new crimes specifically targets Occupy protesters. But you’d have to be either ignorant or disingenuous if you claim that Occupiers won’t be targeted by this odious measure, which just so happens to get passed right before the G-8 and NATO summits, the Republican and Democratic national conventions and the 2012 elections.

      • abbiMarch 12, 2012 at 12:39 amReply

        exactly, add in the fact that the FBI wants food activists labeled as terrorists and its easy to see them using this to target occs.
        Occy’s already get beat up by cops and denied medical care while in jail, what makes anyone think they’ll play nicely now that they can criminalize the peoples’ right to assembly?

    • ShaneMarch 12, 2012 at 6:17 amReply

      Matt,

      Just because a blog holds your comment for moderation doesn’t mean your first amendment right has been revoked, as the first amendment of the Constitution only applies to the Federal government.

      Now, if you said that only to ruffle feathers, then you’re a bigger idiot than you lead us on to believe.

      • UncommonsensescMarch 14, 2012 at 8:53 amReply

        He seems to be more worried about his comment getting posted than the stripping away of our consitutional rights – misplaced anger and another example of sheepism!

  2. abbiMarch 12, 2012 at 12:34 amReply

    If the people loose their right to protest then the next logical step is full scale revolution. I was hope to avoid that but looks necessary now.

    • RozMarch 12, 2012 at 8:04 amReply

      Im with you abbi, and while the NDAA says I can be picked up for saying such a thing, it looks like thats the only way were gonna be able to stop this forward motion of Federal tyranny.

    • UncommonsensescMarch 14, 2012 at 8:54 amReply

      I’ve said for a long time that what this country needs is another good revolution!

    • MattMarch 18, 2012 at 2:29 pmReply

      The founding fathers would be terrorists by today’s laws. To say that you want to severely alter, or even abolish completely, the state and federal governments, would get you labeled as an unpatriotic terrorist. I love this country, and I wont hesitate for a minute to pick up my arms to defend it from any threat. I will be on the frontlines of the underground movement to save America from any oppressor. And for this, I could be thrown in jail, because I don’t consider our government as different than any other government. Our government is not our country, D.C. is not America. We may be traitors to our government, but not to our country.

  3. DaveMarch 12, 2012 at 5:17 pmReply

    I’d like to share this article, but there is a typo in a fairly prominent place.

    Third paragraph, first sentence… the link text says: “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Imrpovement Act of 2011″

    I believe “Imrpovement” should be “Improvement”

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 12, 2012 at 5:21 pmReplyAuthor

      Typo fixed… you can share now! Thanks for reading, and for the correction.

  4. Ed Anderson, USN RETIRED 1965-85March 13, 2012 at 5:49 pmReply

    THIS MORON HAS GOT TO GO! What walking brain stems allowed it to get to that
    $@&%+^ for his signature. Are those hind ends of huge mules on drugs in D.C.?
    He and those in his back pocket have this country so screwed up…

  5. Ed Anderson, USN RETIRED 1965-85March 13, 2012 at 5:50 pmReply

    MODERATION? Oh, and those marks….were MINE because I couldn’t think of the proper adjectives.
    So, if my words don’t meet with your APPROVAL, they aren’t posted? I’m not working in D.C. so I’ll say what I want!

  6. Pablo EscobarMarch 15, 2012 at 7:48 amReply

    Just a thought…does this mean that it will allow for the punishment of those who protest Military Funerals? OR better yet if they are Secret Service Personnel’s funerals? Lets see how far reaching this is, or if it only protects this DB on Pennsylvania AVE

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2012 at 8:43 amReplyAuthor

      Interesting question… we’ll see.

  7. ScottMarch 19, 2012 at 6:40 amReply

    What does Obama have anything to do with this? It shows a congress support of 388-3 which is nore than a 2/3s vote which means he basically.has to sign it
    ….congress wrote the bill , congress is the legislation branch…..the president is in the executive branch

    I’m sure the person who wrote this is the same type that would blame the cop when he gets a ticket ……even though the cop is just upholding the law…. A cop doesn’t WRITE the laws

    you want someone to blame …..blame your state senators and representatives that you voted in to congress

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 19, 2012 at 7:10 amReplyAuthor

      The President never has to sign anything he doesn’t want to.

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