Tag Archives: occupy wall street

Is Occupy Wall Street Outperforming the Red Cross in Hurricane Relief?

By , Nov. 4, 2012.  Source: Slate.com

1352060655964

Volunteers inside St. Jacobis Church working with Occupy Sandy’s relief efforts.

In Sunset Park, a predominantly Mexican and Chinese neighborhood in South Brooklyn, St. Jacobi’s Church was one of the go-to hubs for people who wanted to donate food, clothing, and warm blankets or volunteer help other New Yorkers who were still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  On Saturday, Ethan Murphy, one of the people heading the kitchen operation, estimated they would prepare and send out 10,000 meals to people in need. Thousands and thousands of pounds of clothes were being sorted, labeled, and distributed, and valuable supplies like heaters and generators were being loaded up in cars to be taken out to the Rockaways, Staten Island and other places in need.  However, this well-oiled operation wasn’t organized by the Red Cross, New York Cares, or some other well-established volunteer group. This massive effort was the handiwork of none other than Occupy Wall Street—the effort is known as Occupy Sandy.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Natural Disasters, Occupy Wall Street, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Protesters rally against Monsanto–on one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project took part in the conference and actions in St. Louis on Sunday and Monday.  We will be producing  a photo essay from the three actions held in St. Louis yesterday that will be posted tomorrow.

–The GJEP Team

GMO-Free Midwest Protestors hang sign

The protests here, organized by a network calling itself Occupy Monsanto and by the group GMO-Free Midwest,  were among 45 other “actions” held across the country Monday, organizers said.

Calling on the company to more rigorously test and label genetically modified ingredients, the protesters first gathered outside the Millenium Hotel downtown, then outside the Whole Foods Market in Brentwood and finally outside the company’s offices.

“We’re celebrating the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street,” said Barbara Chicherio, of the Gateway Green Alliance and Safe Food Action St. Louis, and a spokesperson for Occupy Monsanto’s efforts here. “We had a lot of concerns about large corporations controlling the government, but it wasn’t very focused. Now we’re focusing on Monsanto.”

The protests are the latest in a series of events over the past year in which activists have called for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. A petition urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require labeling gathered more than 1 million signatures earlier this year, and a proposition requiring labeling will go before voters in California this November.

According to records filed with the California Secretary of State, Monsanto has contributed more than $7 million to defeat the proposition.

Now, activists say, they are reaching beyond the labeling issue.  “Over 1 million signatures were sent to the FDA and they were basically ignored,” said Adam Eidinger, a coordinator with Occupy Monsanto. “So what’s left to do? It’s time for civil disobedience.”

Eidinger said the company temporarily suspended operations at two of its California facilities in the past week because of protest actions.

Monsanto would not comment on the suspension of operations, saying only that the safety of its employees was paramount.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution

Open letter from global social movements in support of Occupy Wall Street

September 13, 2012.  Source: La Via Campesina

September 15 -17 With Occupy Wall Street
Stop financial speculation on food and climate

The fight of Occupy Wall Street is the struggle of all movements in the world.  Finance capital, that created the crisis in 2008, has increased its power instead of being disciplined. At present, world GDP is 64 trillion US dollars while the derivatives market reached the incredible figure of 1,500 trillion US dollars in 2011. The speculative economy is 250 times larger than the real economy of the world. Now banks and Transnational corporations (TNCs) are moving to speculate on the impacts of the climate and environmental crises that the capitalist system has created. Prices of food are beginning to climb again because of climate change and speculation in a world where 1 billion people already suffer from hunger. The banks and TNCs like Cargill, Wal-Mart, Monsanto are seeing this situation as a new opportunity to make profits through food derivatives, natural resource grabbing, GMOs, agro-fuels, free trade agreements, structural adjustments, austerity plans and other mechanisms to increase the privileges of the 1% at the expenses of the 99% of the world and at tremendous cost to our Mother Earth.

From 15 to 17th of September, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, we will raise our voices and promote actions to ban derivatives in food, dismantle the power of the banks and TNCs, stop the privatization of water and public services, cancel the illegitimate debts that are strangling our sisters and brothers in Europe, achieve deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and restore a life in harmony with nature.

Bangkok, August 31, 2012

SIGNED:
All Nepal’s Peasants’ Federation
Alliance of Progressive Labor, Philippines
Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA-Pilipinas)
Assembly of the Poor, Thailand
ATTAC France
ATTAC Japan
Bangladesh Kishani Sabha
Bangladesh Krishok Federation
Bhartiya Kisan Union, BKU, India
Focus on the Global South
FTA Watch, Thailand
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Global Forest Coalition
Indonesian Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice
Indonesian Political Economy Association
Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, India
KIARA (The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice), Indonesia
Kilusang Mangingisda (Fisherfolk Movement), Philippines
Koalisi Anti Utang (Anti Debt Coalition) Indonesia
KRuHA (People’s coalition for the right to water), Indonesia
La Via Campesina
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement
Migrant Forum in Asia
MONLAR, Sri Lanka
NOUMINREN, Japan
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Polaris Institute, Canada
SBI (Indonesia Labor Union)
Serikat Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasant Union)
SMI (Suluh Muda Indonesia) Sumut
SNI (Indonesia Fisherfolk Union)
Solidarity Workshop, Bangladesh
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
Thai Working Group for Climate Justice (TCJ)

To send your own messages of solidarity, news or pictures of your actions, please email: owsrevtalks@gmail.com

Leave a Comment

Filed under Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Veterans Say No to NATO

by Amy Goodman, May 17, 2012

Cross-Posted from TruthDig

Veterans of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are now challenging the occupation of Chicago.

This week, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is holding the largest meeting in its 63-year history there. Protests and rallies will confront the two-day summit, facing off against a massive armed police and military presence. The NATO gathering has been designated a “National Special Security Event” by the Department of Homeland Security, empowering the U.S. Secret Service to control much of central Chicago, and to employ unprecedented authority to suppress the public’s First Amendment right to dissent.

The focus of the summit will be Afghanistan. “Operation Enduring Freedom,” as the Afghanistan War was named by the Bush administration and continues to be called by the Obama administration, is officially a NATO operation. As the generals and government bureaucrats from around the world prepare to meet in Chicago, the number of NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 topped 3,000. First Lt. Alejo R. Thompson of Yuma, Ariz., was killed on May 11 this year, at the age of 30. He joined the military in 2000, and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after his death, The Associated Press reported that Thompson would be receiving the Purple Heart medal posthumously and is “in line for a Bronze Star.” On Wednesday, President Barack Obama awarded, also posthumously, the Medal of Honor to Leslie H. Sabo Jr., killed in action in Cambodia in 1970.

While the president and the Pentagon are handing out posthumous medals, a number of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will be marching, in military formation, to McCormick Place in Chicago to hand their service medals back. Aaron Hughes left the University of Illinois in 2003 to join the military, and was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. He served in the Illinois National Guard from 2000 to 2006. Since leaving active duty, Hughes has become a field organizer with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). He explained why he is returning his medals: “Because every day in this country, 18 veterans are committing suicide. Seventeen percent of the individuals that are in combat in Afghanistan, my brothers and sisters, are on psychotropic medication. Twenty to 50 percent of the individuals that are getting deployed to Afghanistan are already diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or a traumatic brain injury. Currently one-third of the women in the military are sexually assaulted.”

IVAW’s Operation Recovery seeks increased support for veterans, and to stop the redeployment of traumatized troops. Hughes elaborated: “The only type of help that [veterans] can get is some type of medication like trazodone, Seroquel, Klonopin, medication that’s practically paralyzing, medication that doesn’t allow them to conduct themselves in any type of regular way. And that’s the standard operating procedures. Those are the same medications that service members are getting redeployed with and conducting military operations on.”

Another veteran—of the anti-war movement of the 1960s—and now a law professor at Northwestern University, longtime Chicago activist Bernardine Dohrn, also will be in the streets. She calls NATO the “militarized arm of the global 1 percent,” and criticizes Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for misappropriating funds for the summit: “Suddenly we don’t have money here for community mental-health clinics. We don’t have money for public libraries or for schools. We don’t have money for public transportation. But somehow we have the millions of dollars necessary … to hold this event right here in the city of Chicago.”

Occupy Chicago, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been focused on the NATO protests. The unprecedented police mobilization, which will include, in addition to the Chicago police, at least the Secret Service, federal agents, and the Illinois National Guard, also may include extensive surveillance and infiltration. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the activist legal organization Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ) indicate what the group calls “a mass intelligence network including fusion centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social-justice movement.” PCJ says the documents clearly refute Department of Homeland Security claims that there was never a centralized, federal coordination of crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Aaron Hughes and the other vets understand armed security, having provided it themselves in the past. He told me the message he’ll carry to the military and the police deployed across Chicago: “Don’t stand with the global 1 percent. Don’t stand with these generals that continuously abuse their own service members and then talk about building democracy and promoting freedom.”
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Occupy Wall Street, Political Repression, Politics, War

Breaking News: Occupy the Farm at UC Berkeley Being Raided by Police Now

Stay tuned for updates and photos on Climate Connections throughout the day…GJEP Communications Director Jeff Conant is en-route.

For background on the land takeover at UC Berkeley, read Jeff Conant’s piece:

A Breath of Fresh Air for the Occupy Movement: How Occupy the Farm Hopes to Reclaim the Commons

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Political Repression, Solutions

MayDay Action: Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting Disrupted

Cross-Posted from St Louis Today
Protesters target Peabody Energy's shareholders meeting

At least seven times, protesters stood up at the meeting to yell “Peabody pay up” and other slogans as they were escorted out by company representatives and police. No arrests were reported.

Afterward, more than 100 people — many affiliated with labor unions or the Occupy Movement — demonstrated outside the Peabody Opera house, where the meeting was held.

For the most part, Greg Boyce, the company’s chairman and chief executive, ignored the protesters’ shouts as he conducted the annual meeting, attended by about 100 shareholders.

“In our view, we certainly pay our fair share,” he told shareholders.

In a statement, Peabody said that in 2011 it paid $1.4 billion in taxes, fees and royalties, including more than $200 million in federal, state and local taxes.

Peabody paid Boyce $10.2 million last year, including a $2.6 million bonus that was close to the maximum allowed in his compensation plan. His total pay was up 6.5 percent from 2010.

After the meeting, Peabody released another statement that said last year marked the best financial results — including a $958 million profit — and strongest safety performance in the company’s 129-year history. Boyce said in the statement that the “global supercycle for coal was alive and well, with rising electricity generation and steel demand in China and India driving strong demand for coal.”

In comments to shareholders, Boyce described Peabody’s commitment to St. Louis, its decision to keep and expand its downtown headquarters and its support of the St. Louis Zoo. He noted the meeting’s location at the Peabody Opera House, after the company paid an undisclosed amount in 2010 to the rename the former Kiel Opera House, which reopened last fall after a $78.7 million renovation and restoration.

Every few minutes, protesters — singly or in small groups up to six people — rose to interrupt Boyce. Other shareholders and Peabody directors, seated in a row next to Boyce on the meeting room’s stage, sat quietly as the still-shouting demonstrators were led away.

Boyce’s comments about Peabody’s corporate citizenship made no impression on protesters, who decried what they said was Peabody’s failure to pay its fair share of taxes. Many in the noisy crowd outside the opera house waved signs as they chanted “We pay taxes, so should you” and “This is what democracy looks like.”

Police kept demonstrators behind temporary metal barricades set up along the sidewalk in front of the opera house.

Michelle Witthaus, an Occupy St. Louis member among the protesters escorted from the shareholders meeting, later joined the demonstrators outside. Citing a report last year by Citizens for Tax Justice, a public-interest research group, she said in an interview that Peabody shortchanged city public schools by paying no state income taxes in 2008 or 2010.

Witthaus, 35, said she had seen the effect of inadequate funding as a teacher in a city elementary school. She said her school lacked a sufficient number of computers and other equipment to help children get ready for a high-tech world.

“Our kids in the city of St. Louis will not be prepared for the future,” she said.

At the close of the meeting, the company announced that shareholders had voted to retain Boyce and all other board members, who had sat in a row of chairs across the stage of an ornate meeting room. Shareholders rejected a proposal by Sister Barbara Jennings, coordinator of the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, to require Peabody to disclose more details of its lobbying activities.

Jennings said shareholders learned only from media reports that Peabody is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which had a role in persuading more than 20 state to enact “stand your ground” laws. Florida’s “stand your ground” law is a focus of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by a member of a neighborhood watch group.

Boyce replied that the company believed its existing disclosure rules are adequate.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/business/energy/occupy-protesters-target-peabody-shareholder-meeting-in-st-louis/article_8d5d8d68-93b7-11e1-9559-0019bb30f31a.html#ixzz1tp1pTnRW

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Corporate Globalization, Mountaintop Removal, Occupy Wall Street, Pollution

Video: The 1% Occupies the Planet: And Gets Arrested (oops!)

Posted from Disrupt Dirty Power

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Humor, Occupy Wall Street, Videos

Video: Al Jazeera, Fault Lines–History of an Occupation

Below is the first episode of this season’s Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English’s award-winning U.S. current affairs show.

In the first of a two part series, Fault Lines tells the definitive history of Occupy Wall Street, looking at how it went from a small group of New York protesters to a broad people’s movement.  Despite police repression and media ridicule, the movement mobilized thousands of people fed up with the deep economic divide in the US. Within two months hundreds of Occupy Wall Street camps swept across the country changing the political discourse in the US.

Watch the first episode here:

Stay tuned for upcoming Fault Lines episodes this season on voter rights and immigration detention in the U.S.
.
New episodes air Tuesdays at 2230 GMT/630 EST, and are available the next day Al Jazeera’s YouTube page and website.
.
Fault Lines on Twitter:

@AJFaultlines

Fault Lines on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/AJFaultLines

- Sophia Qureshi, Al Jazeera

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Occupy Wall Street, Videos

Photo Essay: Scores Arrested as the Police Clear Zuccotti Park on 6 Month Anniversary of OWS

By COLIN MOYNIHAN, March 17, 2012

Cross-Posted from the New York Times blog
 
1:09 a.m. Scores of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday night as police officers swept Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and closed it.
 
Dozens of demonstrators sat down and locked arms as officers moved in about 11:30 p.m. The protesters chanted “we are not afraid” as the police began pulling people from the crowd, one by one, and leading them out of the park in handcuffs.
 
The operation occurred after hundreds of people had gathered in the financial district to observe the founding of Occupy Wall Street six months ago. Earlier, protesters had embarked upon a winding march, after which police officers made initial arrests of about a dozen people near the park.
 
(article continues after photo essay)
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
  • Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

By 11:30 p.m., as police officers massed on Broadway, a commander announced that the park was closed. Those inside shouted back that the park was obliged through an agreement with the city to remain open. The commander then announced that anyone who remained inside would be arrested and charged with trespassing.

After clearing the park, police officers and private security guards began placing a ring of metal barricades on the park’s perimeter, as those who had been arrested were placed inside a city bus.

At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.

By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.

Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

Earlier that afternoon, as protesters gathered under blue skies while carrying banners and signs, the day was in some ways reminiscent of the first time the Occupy protesters gathered in mid-September. Just after 1 p.m., brandishing placards with messages like “Take back government from corporations,” the crowd left Zuccotti Park headed south on Broadway, chanting the now familiar slogan “We are the 99 percent.”

When the first protesters set foot in the financial district six months ago, few people imagined what would follow, including a two-month encampment in Lower Manhattan, similar camps in cities across the country and critiques of corporate greed becoming part of the national dialogue.

The movement was mainly quiet during the winter, but organizers said they were aiming for a springtime resurgence.

“It’s just a reminder that we’re here,” Brendan Burke said, as the crowd marched past the New York Stock Exchange. “It’s an opportunity to remind Wall Street that we aren’t going anywhere.”

In several respects, Saturday’s march was similar to the inaugural one. The crowd was small but spirited and marched past the bronze sculpture of a bull at Bowling Green, which had served as a mustering spot for the first march. Marchers were accompanied by police officers on foot and on scooters who at one point blocked access to Wall Street, just as they did on Sept. 17.

And, as they did that day, the marchers made sudden turns that appeared to surprise the police and walked along Wall Street for at least a brief time.

At one point, several demonstrators stood on the steep steps of Federal Hall and chanted “1-2-3-4, I declare class war.”

Later, members of the group ignored orders from the police to remain on sidewalks and flowed onto parts of Exchange Place and Beaver Street. Later, on Broad Street, a deputy inspector turned to a sergeant and said, “We got to start collaring some.”

For the next 30 minutes or so, things remained calm as marchers stuck to the sidewalks and entered Zuccotti Park.

But then, just after 2 p.m., police officers began telling a large group of protesters that they could not stand on the sidewalk on a stretch of Liberty Street. Officers pushed the crowd until more than 100 protesters on the sidewalk were pressed against a wall that borders the park.

Then the police began grabbing and arresting people, taking into custody at least half a dozen. Officers surged into the crowd, dragging protesters toward the street, as people yelled objections.

“They were grabbing people randomly,” Zachary Kamel said, adding that his girlfriend, Lauren DiGoia, had been arrested while dancing on the sidewalk.

One sergeant grabbed a woman wearing a green shirt by the bottom of her throat and shoved her head against the hood of a car. A moment later, another officer approached and forcefully pressed her head against the car before placing her into the back of a police truck.

Over the next few hours, protesters conducted meetings inside Zuccotti Park and held a dance party fueled by a saxophone and a battery of drums. Sporadic moments of tension also arose.

At one point, the police arrested a handful of protesters on Cedar Street near Trinity Place. A few moments later, near Cedar Street and Broadway, a police captain pushed a man by the shoulders for almost a block, then released him when a crowd loudly demanded to know whether the man was under arrest.

The man, Charlie Gonzalez, 31, said that the captain had told him he was not permitted to stand on the sidewalk.

About an hour later, the same captain pushed another man several hundred feet east down Cedar Street, about a block from Zuccotti Park, and briefly detained him.

That man, Yoni Miller, 19, said he was counting officers standing in rows near Broadway when the captain forced him to walk around a corner onto Cedar Street, then asked him if he was a terrorist or was planning any crimes.

Paul Moore, 25, said that he was videotaping the encounter when the captain asked him for identification and began pushing him away, telling him he was not permitted to document what was happening.

After nightfall, the number of people inside the park swelled to more than 500.

About 10 p.m., some of those in the park began a regimen of running and dancing that they called “spring training,” which they said was meant to prepare for coming demonstrations.

At 10:30, protesters sprung up a green tarp, folded over a piece of rope suspended from two trees near the center of Zuccotti Park. Security and police officers looked on from the perimeter.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Occupy Wall Street, Political Repression

The Criminalization of Protest: Say Goodbye To Free Speech in America

Note: Below this article from the 9th of March is an update from the Wall Street Journal reporting on the passage of the “Anti-Occupy Bill” with comment from the ACLU.

–The GJEP Team

By Devon DB, March 9, 2012

Cross-Posted from Global Research

A new bill, HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, also known as the “Trespassing Bill,” is soon to be signed into law by President Obama. This bill effectively criminalizes protest and will hurt protest groups and movements such as Occupy quite hard.

The bill as states that anyone who knowingly “enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so” with the “intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in or [in] proximity to, any restricted building or grounds” or “impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” will be punished with a fine or “or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.” (emphasis added)

There are already many problems with the bill as it does not attempt to define what “imped[ing] or disrupt[ing] the orderly conduct of government business or official functions” is, nor does it specify what “government business” is or what an “official function” is. This vagueness will allow for the US government to effectively stifle protest and free speech, thus criminalizing such actions like the upcoming Occupy Chicago anti-NATO/G-8 protests. In addition to this, such a law will make it impossible for Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights when “government business” is being attended to or “official functions” are occurring.

Unsurprisingly, only three people voted against the measure: Paul Broun (R-GA-10), Justin Amash (R-MI-3) and Ron Paul (R-TX-14). This law would allow federal law enforcement “to bring these charges against Americans engaged in political protests anywhere in the country, and violators will face criminal penalties that include imprisonment for up to 10 years.” HR 347 will is ripe for abuse, as the NYPD has, as of recent, assumed the notion that taking photos and videotaping is a form of disorderly conduct.

The fact that only three people in the House, all Republicans oppose the bill and absolutely no Democrats (see the voting list here ), only shows just how both parties are just two sides of the same coin.

This law comes at the heels of the US government having debated over whether or not to indefinitely detain US citizens and Attorney General Eric Holder- the Obama administration’s version of John Yoo, arguing that the President can assassinate US citizens without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone.

Free speech may very well soon be nothing but a distant relic of the past.

Civil Liberties Advocates See Backslide in New Trespass Law

Cross-Posted from the Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2011

The difference one word can make.

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, which has been called “the anti-Occupy” bill, but as the ACLU points out, it was the elimination of one word from an existing law that could make life harder for protesters.

As first-year criminal law students know, most crimes require that a certain state of mind be proven. The new law re-writes an existing 1971 trespass law, which stated someone had to act “willfully and knowingly” when committing the crime.

Now, the language has been changed so that the actor only need behave “knowingly,” which would mean knowing one was in a restricted area but not necessarily that he or she was committing a crime. This small change would allow the Secret Service to arrest protestors more easily, the ACLU said in a statement.

The law makes it an offense to knowingly enter the certain areas without legal authority. The following areas are off-limits:

(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.

The bill originally passed the House of Representatives 399-3 in February 2011. On Feb. 6 of this year it passed the Senate with changes, which were approved by the House. The president signed the bill into law on March 8.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), who introduced the measure in the Senate, said it will “improve the law enforcement tools available to the Secret Service in its attempts to protect the President, the Vice President, and others on a day-to-day basis by closing loopholes in the current federal law,” according to his statement.

He added: “The new law should punish and deal more effectively with anyone who illegally enters restricted areas to threaten the President, Vice President, or other Secret Service protectees.”

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Occupy Wall Street, Political Repression