Tell Congress: Amend “Anti-Protest Bill” to Ensure First Amendment Protections
Imagine an America in which the government can deny protest in any public space it deems fit. Where wearing a dissenting shirt around an elected official could be construed as a felony. Where First-Amendment protections become privileges subjectively doled out by the state. Sadly, that America is pretty much here.
In March, Congress passed HR 347, a bill that limits Americans’ ability to protest in public and on government grounds. Mainstream media didn’t raise peep, but now there’s finally some anger building. The bill, passed almost unanimously, makes it a federal offense punishable by up to ten years in prison to “knowingly“ protest in the vicinity of the Secret Service—that is anywhere the Secret Service “is or will be temporarily visiting.”
It also makes many public events impervious to lawful protest. Any “National Security Special Event” (NSSE) requires Secret Service protection. NSSE-designated events have proliferated since 9/11 to include Super Bowls, concerts, campaign events, and now any public event that Very Important People want protest-free.
Most dangerously, it criminalizes protest. Under the bill, “disorderly or disruptive conduct” or activities that “impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” could warrant felony charges. What constitutes such “disruptive conduct” rests in the eye of the beholder—or the eye of Eric Holder. To put it plainly: the government can decide where and when free speech is allowed and severely prosecute any “disruptive” activity, while we’re confined to “free speech zones.” We can help fix it, however! Join our petition below to protect our speech rights!
PETITION TO CONGRESS: We treasure our first amendment rights of free speech and public assembly! HR 347 limits valid arenas of peaceful public protest, and broadens the government’s ability to curtail civil liberties. We demand that Congress amend the bill to provide clearer language as to what constitutes “disruptions”; to allow for reasonable, peaceful protest at NSSEs and around Secret Service; and to ensure that no peaceful protest can ever be deemed a felony.
TL;DR: Guys, this is REALLY fucking important. Under this bill Occupy Wall Street, the March on Washington & virtually ANY other protests could not have happened. Peaceful protests are an important part of our political process (not to mention our Constitutional Rights!) Please take a moment to sign & reblog this. Thanks!
katydidnot said: but it’s been international workers’ day since 1886? i know occupy co-opts a lot of things but because the history of may day is in labor movements that doesn’t really seem like co-opting…
It totally is related to worker rights since 1886. I’m all for Occupy supporting worker rights but I am not for Occupy doing so at the expense of what US May Day has become.
HOWEVER the last 8 years US May Day has shifted to advocate for immigration reform as related to workers rights. This year Occupy has posted many posters/calls for actions that have stated “occupy may day” with the conversation being bring occupies platform to May Day.
No. May Day needs to have the momentum it has had around immigration reform. May day has brought a large amount of awareness about immigrant rights to public arenas. To dilute this with Occupy is helping no one. If the occupy movement had instead asked folks to join in solidarity with May Day as it stands than this would be different, instead Occupy has decided to change the direction/theme of May Day without any consideration or input from those doing this work for nearly a decade instead of just the last year. Additionally, this is one of the first years I’ve ever seen violence being reported with May Day (It’s all over the news right now that violence is occurring right now at these rallies, see my last post). This has always been a family safe day. I don’t feel safe marching this year. But hey that’s me.
I can’t support any moved that reduce/deduce or distract from the work of May Day that has been done for US politics around immigration reform, especially from a movement that has such fissures of politics around POC/Decolonize/marginalization or that has co-opted narratives/works of POC, much like they are doing today.
It ain’t just you boo! It’s me too. Occupy Oakland has a whole day of events going on and the media covered it last night and throughout the day and I haven’t seen enough focus on the People of Color Caucus yet nor on the many folks who have been organizing around this for the last 8 years. I helped organized a May Day event a few years ago and there was very little press coverage outside of Spanish speaking television stations. I also noticed that OO has NOTHING in their program today addressing immigration reform, racism, it’s all “patriarchy”, “gentrification” and something else… Which are very real issues but are not necessarily how they would be framed by poc imo.
Occupy continues to fuck up.
Love and solidarity and strength to my poc folks out there holding it down though.
On January first, the president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan ended what many considered to be an 8 billion dollar fuel subsidy program. Many people in Nigeria considered the subsidy their share of the oil wealth as well as one of the few effective welfare programs present in Nigeria. President Jonathan states that it is a good idea to end the fuel subsidies because Nigeria’s economy will benefit from the austerity measures. He has stated that some of the money saved would be transfered to infrastructure building which could eventually offset commuting costs.
quote:When subsidies on imports of motor fuel were scrapped on January 1, many citizens saw what they regard as their only welfare benefit disappear and the price of petrol more than doubled to 150 naira ($0.93) a liter.
By January second, people were gathering.
quote:Young activists have begun a series of protests against the withdrawal of gasoline subsidies announced by the Nigerian government on New Year’s day. Activists marched to the Eagles Square to hold a demonstration but were turned by back by fierce-looking soldiers and police teams.
The action of the police did not stop the groups from staging symbolic actions around the Eagle Square.
There are reports of sporadic protests in other cities around Nigeria as activists vow to shut down Nigeria over the increase in prices of gasoline prices they said is bound to make life more unbearable for a country where most of citizens live on less than $3 a day.
Within several days, the gatherings exploded into nationwide protests and union strikes demanding the reinstatement of the oil subsidies. Various reports of police firing on protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets abound.
On January 10th, thousands of protesters converged on the governors office in Kano.
quote:KANO (AFP) – At least five people were shot dead Monday during protests over an oil price hike while a nine-year boy was reportedly trampled to death by a crowd, officials and medical sources said.
Sixteen others suffered gunshot wounds, with most of the violence in the northern city of Kano, where police clashed with demonstrators.
The head of Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, said three people were shot dead in the economic capital Lagos while another was shot in Kano, where a boy also crushed to death in a stampede.
“My understanding is that the nine-year-old appears to have been trampled in what looks like a stampede in Kano,” he told AFP.
Earlier, a hospital source in Kano reported at least two dead — a 25-year-old and 27-year-old — from gunshot wounds, bringing the nationwide toll to up to six.
A union leader accused police of shooting dead a protester in Lagos. Police spokesman Samuel Jinadu confirmed the death and said an officer had been arrested.
Police fired tear gas and shot into the air as thousands of protesters converged on the governor’s office in Kano, the largest city in the north.
Trade unions stated yesterday that they will be shutting down Nigeria’s oil industry on Sunday if the subsidy is not reinstated. In response to both the strikes/protests as well as a surge in acts of violence linked to Boko Haram, President Jonathan has ordered the closing of Nigeria’s borders.
Over 25 people have been killed during protests.
quote:Since 9 January, tens of thousands of Nigerians throughout the country went on strike to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy and to demand good governance. The protests are generally peaceful, however in some instances violence has been reported.
In Kaduna, on 10 January a man was seriously injured after he was shot in his head by the police. The state government subsequently imposed a 24 hour curfew and the police have threatened to arrest anyone who would protest.
In Benin City, the capital of Edo State, according to unconfirmed reports three people were injured on 10 January after the police shot in the air. Some of the leaders of the protests in the state are currently in hiding and fear for their safety.
In Kano, on 9 January at least one person was killed and 22 people were injured when the police fired live ammunition at demonstrators in an attempt to disperse the crowd near the gates of Government House. Unconfirmed reports suggest another two persons may have been killed. The police issued no warning before using lethal force, but opened fire and used teargas simultaneously. At least one bystander who was not participating in the protest was shot and injured. According to eyewitnesses, the protesters were unarmed. Following the incident, the union in Kano state halted further public protests and asked people to strike by staying at home. The government has put in place a curfew from 6 pm till 8 am.
On 9 January, at least five people were shot; three were reportedly injured and two were killed in Lagos. The police announced the arrest of one police officer suspected to have fired at demonstrators.
Intentional use of lethal force against people in a public order situation violates the right to life as guaranteed by Nigeria’s Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In January 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said that the force order (referring to Force Order 237) provided “carte blanche to shoot and kill at will.” He recommended the amendment of the force order to meet with international standards. The government took no action.
Some pictures of the protests in Nigeria.
More Americans than Chinese can’t put food on the table
The number of Americans who lack access to basic necessities like food and health care is now higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession, a survey released Thursday found. And in a finding that could worsen fears of U.S. decline, the share of Americans struggling to put food on the table is now three times as large as the share of the Chinese population in the same position.
The United States’ Basic Index Score, a Gallup measure of access to necessities, fell to 81.4 in September—even lower than the 81.5 mark it reached in February and March, 2009. The recession officially ended in June of that year, but the halting recovery hasn’t given a sustained boost to the number of Americans able to provide for themselves. The government reported last month that a record number of Americans is living in poverty.
Between September 2008 and last month, the share of Americans with access to a personal doctor plummeted from 82.5 percent to 78.3 percent. The share with health insurance fell from 85.9 percent to 82.3 percent. And the share saying they had enough money to buy food for themselves and their family dropped from 81.1 percent to 80.1 percent. Gallup’s surveys are based on phone and in-person interviews.
Meanwhile, Gallup found that just 6 percent of Chinese said there were times in the past 12 months when they lacked enough money for food for themselves or their family, compared to 19 percent of Americans. Just three years ago, those results were almost reversed: 16 percent of Chinese couldn’t put food on the table at times, compared to 9 percent of Americans.
This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government “committed” to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis.
This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests | Politics News | Rolling Stone (via valkyrierisen)
We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan backs downthink-progress)