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Ear to the Ground

A Look at the New ‘Anti-Occupy’ Bill

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Posted on Mar 8, 2012
thisisbossi (CC-BY)

Police arrest an Occupy protester in Washington, D.C., last December.

The radical corners of the Internet have been ringing loudly over a piece of legislation passed with near unanimous support last week that protesters are calling the “anti-Occupy” bill. The new law mostly updates a set of rules already in place, however.

HR 347—the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011—empowers the government to prosecute anyone who knowingly, and without legal permission, enters “(1) the White House or its grounds or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds, (2) a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting, or (3) a building or grounds so restricted due to a special event of national significance.” That language brings certain trespassing violations in Washington under federal jurisdiction.

Additionally, the law makes it easier to charge people lingering in what’s been deemed a “restricted area,” regardless of whether they claim ignorance of their trespassing. —ARK

Natasha Lennard at Salon:

The new bill specifically addresses certain trespassing violations in D.C., which currently do not fall under the remit of federal law (i.e., HR 347 now makes it a federal issue if you trespass onto White House grounds). The only other significant change in the bill is a shift in language, which will make it easier to prosecute those who are found to unlawfully have entered these restricted areas. The law used to say that the person must have entered the area “knowingly” and “willfully.” HR 347, however, scrapped the “willfully,” which essentially now renders it a crime to remain in a restricted area, even if you do not know that it’s illegal for you to be there.

“By striking out ‘willfully’ they make it easier to prosecute under ‘knowingly,’” explained Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. She noted with some exasperation that the campaigns focusing energies against HR 347 miss the bigger, ongoing fight for basic free speech and threats to it, as this specific law is only an amendment to laws that were primarily established in 2006. For Verheyden-Hilliard, HR 347 is best understood as the government “looking at the tools in their arsenal and polishing them up” in time for major, protest-drawing summits and political conventions this year.

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By ernesto, March 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OccupyVT will be greeting Mr Obama when he visits us
@ Univ of Vermont at the end of the month. People
will be on public property adjacent to the university
access road SS will be using to transport the
president on campus. It will be interesting to see
how broadly, not to mention capriciously, that
protective “cone of silence” will be extended…
(VT came in for Obama @70% in 2008. Not that it will
make any difference.)

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By decembre, March 12, 2012 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It looks like the Supreme Court will endorse war on whistle blowers. Manning will never be free, the journalists will have to reveal their sources… isn’t that the end ?

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By 1984, March 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When he took away the 5th amendment, I said it didn’t affect me
When he took away the 1st amendment, I said it didn’t affect me
When he took away the 2nd amendment, I said it didn’t affect me
But when he deactivated my FaceBook, I rose up to make a stand, but was alone

Wake up America… Ron Paul 2012

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By balkas, March 9, 2012 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

morpheus, yes, my point also.
if you’re protesting anyone or anything you’d be bitching
and it means you are owned.
so, stop belly aching and do s’mthing. not violence, of
course, unless it is approved by the 80% of people! violence
is very useful if it is democratic! if not, it fails every time!
thanks, bozhidar b., vancouver

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By balkas, March 9, 2012 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

if people would stand on street corners and talk to people, pass leaflets, go door to door,
then, the one percent couldn’t declare such activities illegal.
it still could deter such messaging, but not to the degree that it can do it legally.
let’s face it, 1% owns the laws and police. so, if you break a law or police ‘plea’, you’d wind
up in prison or be beaten, thrown head first on cement, etc.
hey, kids, you’re messing up with their pensions, good wages, benefits, etc.
so, you know what to expect if you’re disobeying the police. police only care about their
reality and morality: pensions, doubledipping, early retirement, healthcare, other perks
and benefits; so, avoid police like plague.
as for silent majority [is it ca 80%?] they can be reached also by messaging. thanks

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By decembre, March 9, 2012 at 6:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you think “they are afraid”, look at what they just did to the people in Libya and in Irak before and think fast because this is coming to America… They are not afraid but prudent and they own you all.

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ironboltbruce's avatar

By ironboltbruce, March 9, 2012 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

Implying HR 347 is no big deal because much of it was already law is like saying NDAA 2012 is OK because we already had AUMF 2001.

http://open.salon.com/blog/watchingfrogsboil/2012/03/01/outlawing_occupy_hr_347_makes_free_speech_a_felony

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ironboltbruce's avatar

By ironboltbruce, March 9, 2012 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

——-Original Message——-
From: VVV PR [mailto:vvvpr@vvvpr.com]
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 7:22 AM
To: ‘natasha.lennard@gmail.com’
Subject: Implying HR 347 is no big deal because much of it was already law is like saying NDAA 2012 is OK because we already had AUMF 2001.


Re: http://www.salon.com/2012/03/07/the_inside_scoop_on_hr_347/singleton/

Natasha,

Implying HR 347 is no big deal because much of it was already law is like saying NDAA 2012 is OK because we already had AUMF 2001.

IronBoltBruce

http://open.salon.com/blog/watchingfrogsboil/2012/03/01/outlawing_occupy_hr_347_makes_free_speech_a_felony

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By VCubed, March 9, 2012 at 12:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can you say this law pertains only to D.C., when it says clearly it’s
in effect anywhere there’s Secret Service, no matter who they are
protecting? For example: protesting Netanyahu = federal offense
under 347. The protests of AIPAC this past weekend would’ve been
eligible for federal arrest. I doubt Ahmadinejad gets Secret Service
protection, but if he did, it would be a fed offense to protest him. It’s
ridiculous and wrong.

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By heterochromatic, March 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

gerard——it’s not really my fight.  I like the OWS protests, merely think that the
tactic of camping out is played out and turned into a liability.

however, there’s no need for reinforcements because the number of protesters is
way too small for the number of cops to be unable to handle.


let’s hope for smarter tactics this spring and a summer where the numbers of
protesters swell ....and that the tactics ADD support to the protests rather than
working to alienate the political center of the nation.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, March 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

And civil disobedience means ignoring that law and doing it anyway.

But only for Leftists.

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By gerard, March 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

hetero, better call in reinforcements.

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By heterochromatic, March 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

oh dear——- now, people who think that taking over park property is just like
being in summer camp….are going to be carted off to the camps…..


or maybe just get the boot, a desk ticket and instructions to sleep at home.

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By Jeff N., March 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

gerard, your post makes a lot of sense to me.  I don’t know if its the fact that I’ve been following a lot more progressive news and research as of late - I guess you could say I jumped on the OWS bandwagon in a way - but it certainly seems to me that there is a tangible rise in the awareness of everyday people in regard to our political system. 

A year or two ago, under the same circumstances, our government wouldn’t have given a second thought about getting knee deep in Syria and Iran.  Now, ideas about invasion and occupation receive a lot of blowback from the public.  Maybe we are just tired of war, but I think OWS has made significant progress in the arena of public opinion, increasing both the level of communication in our country as well as the quality of that intercourse, with the internet being a perfect catalyst. OWS is able to bridge the gap between an anonymous group of internet users and a unified public entity that can be seen marching the streets.

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By redteddy, March 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

And civil disobedience means ignoring that law and doing it anyway.

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By EmileZ, March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

@ gerard

They will take this freedom loving American’s rolling pin from my cold dead hands.

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By gerard, March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

The more restrictions and punishments, the more evidence that the resticters and punishers are afraid. Hauling out 347 now, waving it around and refurbishing it indicates this point.
  Why are they afraid? No ordinary person has been able to reach the “higher-ups” for decades with any complaint or suggestion. It’s that “unreachableness” that is causing problems. Why? So there is something to “justify” more repression?
  Obvious suggestion:  Reach each other instead, and create ways to live together and help each other. Don’t join “them” by fearing them. Be smarter than they are, stronger than they are, better than they are, braver and more creative. Think deeper. Love more. Close gaps.
  Two reasons why we can succeed:  They are afraid.
And we (together) are smarter,more creative and far more numerous.
  Remain cool so you can think clearly and act wisely. Don’t let fear and anger dominate us as it obviously dominates “them.” That’s what “they” want to happen because that will weaken us.
  This is not a “fight” but the wrong choice from “us” could turn it into one. Actually, it’s a social renaissance in the making, which requires brains more than brawn.

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By EmileZ, March 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

I guess Marcy Kaptur was right (in a way she probably hadn’t anticipated) when she said “stay in your homes”.

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By Morpheus, March 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

We need a new and better way to fight back. Protesting is for children. It’s not a solution.

FIGHT THE CAUSE - NOT THE SYMPTOM
Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

Free people shouldn’t live or act like slaves. If you don’t think this is going get worse then you are part of the problem that got us here.

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By EmileZ, March 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

Egads, I heard about this one Tuesday night.

Things are getting scarier by the second it seems.

One year for unknowingly entering a “security area” and much longer if you are carrying a pocketknife or a boxcutter, or a rolling pin!!!

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By berniem, March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Our govt. cares only for its own protection and preservation. We the people are at best secondary if deemed of any consequence at all save as serfs or cannon fodder. And remember,the police are charged with serving and protecting; but as we all now clearly see, it ain’t us! FREE BRADLEY MANNING!!!!!

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