Put up a poster and risk felony charge plus detention with $25,000 bail
“The Federally Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, known as H.R. 347, is a law most Americans don’t know about. But you don’t have to do a lot to feel its force.” —Maria Portnaya
New York City police are investigating death threats made against staff through the phone and on twitter. This after officers forcibly arrested more than 70 people during an Occupy Wall Street protest. Since the start of the movement, nationwide protests have faced numerous cases of police brutality with batons and tear gas often used to disperse crowds. As the movement continues, so, too, does Washington’s desire to silence the American public, as RT’s Marina Portnaya explains. My Transcript follows this 3:51-minute video.
RT TV Network, March 19, 2012
RT News Announcer — New York City police are investigating death threats made against them by phone calls and over Twitter. This, after officers forcibly arrested more than 70 people during the latest occupy Wall Street protest. Since the start of the protests [in September 2011], nationwide protests have faced numerous cases of police crackdowns with batons and teargas often used to break up crowds. As the movement continues, so does Washington’s desire to silence the US public according to RT’s Maria Portnaya in this report.
Maria Portnaya — It’s a country that extols the virtues of liberty like no other. Since September some 6,700 Americans protesting against economic inequality and corporate greed have been arrested and silenced. A police offensive aimed at crushing Occupy Wall Street has succeeded in shattering America’s globally-marketed brand of freedom.
Natasha Lennard, reporter, Salon.com — What it made people realize is the kind of devastating state of our ability to be in a place of dissent in America. And how challenged that is. And how oppressed that is. I think people thought they were freer to dissent and protest until they tried to.
Maria Portnaya – In America it is a criminal offense to exercise freedom of speech at events deemed nationally significant such as presidential conventions and debates. Protesting in areas where the US president or anyone protected by the secret service, may be visiting, is considered a felony punishable with hefty fines and up to ten years in jail.
The Federally Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, known as H.R. 347, is a law most Americans don’t know about. But you don’t have to do a lot to feel its force.
Mara Verheyden Hilliard, Director, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund — We represent the people who are charged with felony offences solely because they put up posters. They put up signs asking people to join the demonstrations and they’ve been arrested by the police, detained, held on $25,000 bail and charged with a felony.
Maria Portnaya – With NATO and G8 protest posters popping up nationwide US lawmakers are tightening up. Recent act amendments include prohibiting protests around the White House and broader language to make arrest and prosecution easier.
Katie Davison, OWS activist — I think this is a specific response to the fear that we are actually going to be effective in transforming the political landscape.
Maria Portnaya – Katie Davison was arrested twice last year while taking part in the legal, non-violent Occupy Wall Street demos in New York.
Katie Davison, OWS activist – I feel like we’re living in an authoritarian government. Here we sort of sprinkle democratic, you know, like words all over everything as if, you know, we have all these freedoms that we actually don’t.
Maria Portnaya – A new reality where it’s fear that just about any American engaging in political protest can be prosecuted.
Leah Bolger, President of Veterans for Peace — It’s an outrageous affront to civil liberties and the first amendment and I have personally been arrested several times protesting that had been misdemeanors now would be a felony. And it’s just unconscionable that the Congress passed this.
Maria Portnaya – America’s Congress, notoriously known for its bickering, ironically reached consensus when it came to clamping down on constituents. Only three elected officials voted against expanding federal restrictions on protests. While US leaders can’t resolve issues like national debt and homelessness, they’re all on the same page when it comes to how to handle all those citizens flooding the streets to demand change and accountability.