- America has a sordid repressive history including a long
record of violating the First Amendment.
- The First guarantees freedom of religion, expression,
to petition government for redress of grievances, and right to peacefully
- The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts restricted First Amendment
- So did 1919 anti-communist Palmer raids, the 1934 Special
Committee on Un-American Activities, its House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC) successor, secret FBI COINTELPRO crackdowns, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act, the 2001 USA Patriot Act, and other post-9/11
- These and other measures expanded government surveillance,
eroded habeas, formalized military tribunals, permitted torture-extracted
confessions, and instituted violence for national security.
- FBI "terrorist profiles" can investigate anyone
for any reason. So can local police working cooperatively or alone. Street
protests can be criminalized. America's right to dissent is endangered.
- On October 28, 2011, DC Superior Court Judge Russell
Canan found eight Veterans for Peace (VFP) members guilty of "failure
to obey" and "blocking/incommoding." Fined $150, it could
have been much worse.
- Defendants cited First Amendment rights to petition government
for redress of grievances. Founded in 1985, VFP opposes US-sponsored wars,
saying help us end them.
- It also wants domestic and international law obeyed,
and crimes of war and against humanity ended. During trial proceedings,
Richard Duffee petitioned for international law experts to testify. Judge
Canan denied them. Defendants will appeal his verdict.
- Last February, Democratic National Committee members
chose Charlotte, NC for the party's 2012 national convention.
- Called "Wall Street of the South," city officials
drafted an ordinance to make camping on public property a "public
nuisance." It also prohibits "noxious substances," padlocks
and other camping equipment, potentially able to impede traffic and create
public safety concerns. In late January, it's expected to pass.
- Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx claimed enactment doesn't
target specific groups, saying:
- "Unlike many cities that have well-developed regulations
governing protest activity, our local regulations contain gaps that need
to be filled."
- However, an ordinance related memo states:
- "The recent issues related to camping on city property
have further amplified the need to review whether the city wants to regulate
this activity during the DNC."
- A city councilman said once passed, overnight OWS stays
will end. North Carolina's National Lawyers Guild cited constitutional
issues and possible "increased confrontation between protesters and
- OWS organizer Luis Radriguez said everyone calls Charlotte's
DNC "ground zero. Everybody wants to be involved. We're estimating
several thousand coming from the Occupy community." Organizing an
alternative convention was proposed.
- Tampa will host the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Thousands of police will secure convention site areas. Officials expect
up to 15,000 protesters in town.
- Federal and local authorities have contingency plans
for anything. Homeland Security (DHS) calls national conventions, as well
as G-8/G-20, IMF, World Bank and similar summits "national special
- Whether or not Tampa plans anti-protest legislation,
OWS and others present will be targeted, constrained and perhaps evicted.
Constitutional rights will be denied. Freedom will take another body blow.
- On January 18, Chicago's City Council will consider Mayor
Rahm Emanuel's anti-protest measures. Occupy neighborhood groups said provisions
will chill constitutionally protected political speech. They reduce protest
durations to two hours and double fines for arrests.
- Public parks and beaches would close until 6AM, two hours
later than now. In addition, loud noise, amplified sound, and music at
parades and public assemblies would be allowed only between 8 - 10PM.
- Other provisions restrict parade organizers and let city
officials levy punitive fines. Chicago's police commissioner also could
deputize law enforcement officials from federal and state agencies, including
the FBI, DEA, ATF, Illinois State Police, Illinois Attorney General, Justice
Department, Cook County State's Attorney, and others.
- Coordinated federal and local efforts target OWS protesters.
Emanuel's very much involved. Proposed Chicago measures escalate repression.
OWS and other protests are targeted. So are fundamental rights.
- In May 2012, federal and state SWAT team shock forces
and snipers will threaten them when G-8 and NATO summits convene. According
to an unnamed source, "(T)hey'll be able to shoot the head off a nickel
from 500 feet."
- Don't bet they won't try!
- Trampling on Constitutional Rights
- Post-9/11 repressive measures eroded them. Capitalizing
on a window of hysteria, unchecked executive executive powers were granted.
- USA Patriot Act provisions compromised due process, freedom
of association, and protections from unreasonable searches and seizures.
They also authorized unchecked surveillance powers to access personal records,
monitor financial transactions, as well as student, medical and other records.
- Virtually anything goes replaced constitutional protections.
For the first time, "domestic terrorism" became a federal crime,
applicable to US citizens and aliens. It states criminal law violations
are considered domestic terrorist acts if they aim to "influence (government
policy) by intimidation or coercion (or) intimidate or coerce a civilian
- In other words, nonviolent anti-war or global justice
demonstrations, environmental or animal rights activism, civil disobedience,
and dissent of any kind may be called "domestic terrorism," including
- With no hearing or notice, the Patriot Act's Section
806 lets authorities confiscate or freeze foreign and domestic assets of
any individual, entity, or organization accused of engaging in, planning,
supporting, concealing, or perpetrating acts called domestic or international
terrorism against America. Even nonviolent protests are affected.
- Other harsh provisions give authorities wide latitude
to twist the law perversely and advantageously. As a result, anyone associated
with activities called terrorism may be targeted, whether or not true.
- Unprecedented in scope, sweeping executive powers were
granted. Meaningful judicial and congressional oversight are absent.
- In March 2006, Congress renewed most Patriot Act powers.
On May 19, 2011, three key provisions were extended another four years.
- (1) Allowing unlimited roving wiretaps.
- (2) Authorizing government access to "any tangible
item," including financial records and transactions, student and medical
records, phone conversations, emails, other Internet use, and whatever
else is surveilled.
- (3) Permitting alleged suspect organizations and individuals
surveilled, whether or not evidence links them to terrorism or complicity
to commit it.
- Provisions of the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
can also target OWS and other protesters. Designed primarily against animal
rights activists, it applies to other advocacy, protest activity, and all
forms of civil disobedience.
- Moreover, repression's so extreme, anything can be called
terrorism or activities connected to it threatening national security.
- In September 2010, FBI agents raided homes and offices
of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Grand jury subpoenas
followed. In June, the Supreme Court's Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project
decision ruled nonviolent speech and advocacy "coordinated with (or)
under the direction of" designation foreign terrorist groups illegal.
- First Amendment protections don't apply. OWS and other
protesters may be called terrorists. Indefinite detention in military prisons
may follow. Citizenship rights are also threatened if congressionally introduced
- Called the Enemy Expatriation Act, it lets Washington
summarily strip Americans of citizenship for "engaging in, or purposefully
and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States."
No corrorborative proof's needed. In other words, judicially fair convictions
according to law don't apply.
- A Final Comment
- America's on a slippery slope toward full-blown tyranny.
Freedom hangs by a thread. Anyone challenging state power is vulnerable.
Constitutional protections don't apply.
- Presidential diktat authority replaced them. Martial
law looms if so ordered. Nonviolent protesters are threatened. Freedom's
fast going, going, gone.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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