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HR 347 ‘Trespass Bill’ Criminalizes Protest

Jeanine Molloff Reported: “Obama’s predictable signing of the latest assault on the Bill of Rights — namely — H.R. 347 (and it’s companion senate bill S. 1794); aka the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.” Sounding more like an appropriations bill authorizing monies for federal grounds landscaping — this bill, better known to those in the DC beltway as the ‘Trespass Bill’ — potentially makes peaceable protest anywhere in the U.S. a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The legislators responsible for bringing this legislative excrement to life are Representative Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) in the House of Representatives and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) leading the Senate version.

H. R. 347 makes protest of any type potentially a federal offense with anywhere from a year to 10 years in federal prison, providing it occurs in the presence of elites brandishing Secret Service protection, or during an officially defined ‘National Special Security Event’ (NSSE). NSSEs , ( an invention of Bill Clinton) are events which have been deemed worthy of Secret Service protection, which previously received no such treatment. Justified through part of ‘Presidential Decision Directive 62 in 1998; Bill Clinton created an additional class of special events explicitly under the authority of the U.S. Secret Service.”

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.”…

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.

Continue:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29673

Gabe Rottman reported: “It’s important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn’t create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.

These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).

The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would “disrupt the orderly conduct of Government,” and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.

H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.”

 Only three people voted against the measurePaul 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.

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, arguing that the President can assassinate US citizens without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone.

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6 Comments on “HR 347 ‘Trespass Bill’ Criminalizes Protest”

  1. mpbulletin March 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    It is nice to see out of the many other posts I’ve seen talking about this bill that you do acknowledge that this piece of legilsation has been around since 1971. It’s also worth noting that it is part of the federal criminal code under 18 USC Chapter 84 PRESIDENTIAL AND PRESIDENTIAL STAFF ASSASSINATION, KIDNAPPING, AND ASSAULT.

    The purpose of the bill is to make minimal changes to this code which only changes “willingly and knowingly” to “knowingly” enters restricted buildings or grounds, etc. And it includes White House grounds into the definition of restricted buildings. This is completely understandable given a recent intrusion wth someone jumping the WH fence and the person who shot at one of its windows.

    There is no reason at all to think this will be used against protesters or that it will infringe on free speech. Those who claim it will are just subjecting these long standing legislative codes to overly speculative interpretations.

  2. J.F. The Story of Liberty March 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    But should we trust that their motives are pure? And as noted the other version of the law existed, why add to it? “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    Benjamin Franklin

    • mpbulletin March 19, 2012 at 2:32 am #

      “But should we trust that their motives are pure? And as noted the other version of the law existed, why add to it?”

      It’s been added to a number of times since its initiation back in 1971. Four times actually. Twice in response to the Reagan assassination attempt, once in 1994, once in 2006 which made a good number of adjustments more than likely in response to 9/11 and related threats and now this one. I noted the very MINIMAL changes made and explained why they were more than likely made in my first comment.

      Was there worry about reductions in freedom of speech during all those other times it was changed? Nope. So why worry about it this time?

      “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.””

      I doubt ol’ Ben would have taken up much issue with this one simply because there is very little being added or changed. In this instance one thing is being eliminated while another was added.

      Here is a link to the Cornel Law School site for you to look through and see what the other amendments covered. Most of them were made under George W Bush in 2006.

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1752 click on the “notes” tab to see the different amendments.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. LostRepublic.us » Blog Archive » HR 347 ‘Trespass Bill’ Criminalizes Protest - April 9, 2012

    [...] H. R. 347 makes protest of any type potentially a federal offense with anywhere from a year to 10 years in federal prison, providing it occurs in the presence of elites brandishing Secret Service protection, or during an officially defined ‘National Special Security Event’ (NSSE). NSSEs , ( an invention of Bill Clinton) are events which have been deemed worthy of Secret Service protection, which previously received no such treatment. (Read more) [...]

  2. Obama Signed Bill That Makes Free Speech Illegal in Some Zones | The Story of Liberty - April 28, 2012

    [...] ( We covered this back in March here http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/03/18/hr-347-trespass-bill-criminalizes-protest/ ) [...]

  3. Obama Signs Executive Order Declaring International Law for the United States | The Story of Liberty - May 3, 2012

    [...]   More Reading on above issues: NDAA: http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/03/19/what-the-media-is-saying-ndaa-indefinite-detention-provisions/ NDAA: http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/03/13/what-is-ndaa/ NDAA: http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/02/23/the-national-defense-authorization-act-ndaa-of-2012/ NDAA: http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/02/13/breaking-ndaa-nullification-passes-virginia-house-committee-by-a-vote-of-16-0/ HR 347 ‘TRESPASS BILL’ http://thestoryoflibertyblog.com/2012/03/18/hr-347-trespass-bill-criminalizes-protest/ [...]

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