HR347 - 1ST AMENDMENT RT BECOMES A FELONY
“A funny thing happened on the way to stop Obama from signing HR 347 …”
by Frank Gormlie on March 9, 2012
A funny thing happened on the way to figuring how to get President Obama not to sign HR 347. Yesterday late afternoon, I was on an urgent national conference call to discuss how to stop the bill. HR 347 is a bill that was passed with lightening speed with almost no opposition just recently by the Senate and House.
During the call, we were told that the bill is on President Obama’s desk and that he had until March 12th to sign it or veto it. This national phone connect was a “call to action” against the bill.
The bill has been nicknamed the “anti-Occupy Wall Street” bill, the “No Trespass” bill, the “end of dissent” law, and various other terms to describe its potential draconian effects on protest and dissent in America. It authorizes restricted zones where all protest is banned in and around government buildings and facilities, and bans protest around those receiving Secret Service protection. It does more and I’ve included its text – scroll down. “It kills protest around these people,” a moderator flatly stated at the beginning of the call.
So, a funny thing happened while on this conference call to urgently figure out what we could to prevent Obama from signing it. After all, he was a constitutional law professor before he became a politician.
During the conference call, a woman broke in, and said: “I have some very bad news. Obama signed this bill – HR 347 – March 8th – The bill was now LAW!
This depressing news set us all back and changed the tenor and attitudes expressed over this national network of activists.
On the phone we had folks from Georgia, Connecticut, New York, DC, Salem Oregon, southern Massachusetts, Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, Oakland, Indiana … and San Diego, of course. Most of those hooked up to this line were or are involved with the Occupy movement, and in fact, the call had been set up by Occupy activists in Washington, DC – (including San Diego’s own Michael B. – whose voice I recognized 3,000 miles away).
The earlier urgency we had all expressed evaporated. In its place was exasperation and despair. But for many on the phone call, their determination remained. So, it wasn’t really a “funny thing” that had happened – no, more like a devastating thing had happened – but it sure was ironic.
These points about HR 347 and its Senate companion SB were made. It severly curtails protests, and keeps us from protesting the very people who are responsible for putting the country where it’s at today. It’s restrictions apply to some government functions. It criminalizes protest around federal buildings and agencies – even those in a labor strike could be subject to criminal charges.
We were not certain when the bill actually goes into effect, but we believed that unless The Senate passed it with unanimous consent and there were only 3 “nay” votes in the House, there’s a challenging road ahead for those who wish to repeal it. Within the bill itself there isn't any language indicating EXACT date the bill - NOW LAW - will officially go into effect but most likely will do so on January 1, 2013.
Still, troubling aspects of the new law are certainly disquieting. The signified “special events of national significance” could be the political party conventions coming up, or the Super Bowl. People could be banned from protesting any government or quasi-government function that the Department of Homeland Security decides upon.
Plus, protesters could be arrested in these restricted zones even if they didn’t know it was a crime to be there. If convicted of being in a restricted zone, you’d get a misdemeanor – but it would be a felony if there was some kind of weapon – would a Swiss Army knife do the trick? – or if there were injuries … The felony conviction calls for up to 10 years of imprisonment – certainly a chill on dissent.
A news anchor sounding alot like Dan Rather – stated that the near-unanimous consent and speed with which this bill was passed by Congress and now signed into law shows the degree to which the President and the governing elites believe the American people are tired of the Occupy Movement. The new law bans protests that the movement has targeted over the last 6 months.
Halfway through its second hour, the conference call seemed to be winding down. Most wanted to think about the law and what to do, now that the urgency had vanished. What would you propose?
Here’s the text of the bill that actually was passed by both houses:
H.R.347 — Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – ENR)
One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America
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