From Zuccotti Park to Nashville, counterterrorism cops and homeland security officials are spying on and intimidating Occupy protesters. It may have something to do with the way the Patriot Act can be read to classify civil disobedience as domestic terrorism. —PZS
“At the beginning of this movement, I could understand why there might have been a presence of Counter Terrorism Units operating at Liberty Plaza – because nobody knew who we were and what we represented,” states [Occupy Wall Street fixture] Stocker. “Now, their presence is just overkill and antagonistic. What we stand for is clear and it is clear we are not terrorists.”
Occupy protesters should make themselves familiar with the USA Patriot Act. Section 802 expanded the definition of domestic terrorism to include persons who engage in acts of civil disobedience to coerce or affect the conduct of government by intimidation of the civilian population. Furthermore, the US Department of Defence training manuals, until an amendment in 2009, equated protest with “low-level terrorism”. Although the DoD changed the wording two years ago, human rights lawyers and activists have lingering concerns about whether the sentiment and intent has caught up with the change.