George Clooney, Martin Luther King III, and Ben Jealous the President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were among fifteen protesters hauled off into police vans after they were arrested for crossing a police line in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington, District of Columbia.
Among the famous actor, son of a civil rights leader who was so influential that he is remembered with his own day and the leader of one of the primer civil rights groups in America were congressmen: Jim McGovern and John Olver both of whom are the democratic representative from Massachusetts; Jim Moran the democratic representative from Virginia; and Al Green the democratic representative from Texas. Along with those policy makers were former democratic representative from Massachusetts, Tom Andrews along with comedian Dick Gregory and even George Clooney’s father, Nick were not immune to a new law called House Resolution 347, which passed unanimously in the senate while passing in the House of Representatives by a vote of 388 for the bill and only three opposing. Among the opposition to the bill was most notably Ron Paul, a Texas Republican representative and among the last four nominees whom is campaigning to become the Republican candidate for the United States of America, he was one of the three votes deciding against the bill.
President of the United States Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 7th, 2012. Considering what is in H.R. 347, what president wouldn’t want to sign the bill into law. House Resolution 347 which goes by the title of the, “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” gives the Secret Service the ability to arrest anybody who trespasses on boundaries established by the Secret Service or causes a disturbance in areas protected by the Secret Service.
More specifically the bill targets anyone whom fits any of these three criteria, “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.”
Another reason to get arrested due to the new bill is by being someone whom, “engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds when such conduct impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; knowingly, with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”
HR 347 also targets anyone whom, “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.” Other people the bill allows to be arrested are anybody whom, “engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished.”
And the punishment for breaking the laws established in H.R. 347 is, “a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years,” in some cases both punishments can be applied to the convicted person.
As an added punishment for those who are arrested, “if during and in relation to the offense, the convicted, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or the offense results in significant bodily injury, then the convicted can expect a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year.”
According to the literature of the house bill, the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ is defined as, “any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting.”
Other areas that are protected by the bill are, “a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”
And the term “other person protected by the Secret Service” is defined by the new law as, “any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.”
More specifically the Secret Service defines this list of people as being, “The president, the vice president or other individuals who are next in the order of succession to the Office of the President of the United States of America, as well as the president-elect and vice president-elect.” Not only are these specific individuals protected by the Secret Service but so are all of their immediate family members.
Former presidents along with their spouses, unless those spouses remarry are protected by the Secret Service along with the children of former presidents until they reach the age of 16. Visiting heads of foreign governments and specially distinguished guests along with their spouses who are traveling with them. The same protection is extended to America’s own official representatives performing special missions abroad. Within 120 days of the general presidential election, all of the major presidential and vice presidential candidates, along with their spouses, are also protected by the Secret Service.
Besides those people, anyone who has been given designation per Executive Order of the President is protected by the Secret Service. The only other person who can issue out the Secret Service to be used as security is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security who can designate any occurrence as being a, National Special Security Event, which are happenings such as the Super Bowl. These events are then protected by the Secret Service.
Luke Smith from Aggies for Ron Paul, a student organization at New Mexico State University said about the piece of legislation, “10 years sounds a little drastic for protesting.” And about the troubles of protesting even without the bill having to now be in consideration, “You still have to be incredibly careful when organizing a peaceful gathering, it is important that you are not keeping someone from doing their job and that gets tricky.”
Smith also said that he felt it was unnecessary for the Secret Service to be used in none political events such as the Super Bowl, “It’s not the Secret Services’ job to protect a venue like that when the venue should be hiring their own security.”
While the maximum penalty for the average citizen of the United States is a fine along with a possible ten years in jail, for George Clooney and the rest of his politically influential cohorts the fine issued by the courts was $100. Regular citizens might not be so lucky.
This is terrible new for the people of Chicago. The White House has announced that this year’s North Atlantic Trade Organization conference will be held at heavily fortified Presidential “hide a way”, Camp David during the month of May. The NATO conference is scheduled to be followed by the G8 summit which is set to take place in Chicago, the political hometown of the president.
That means from May 20th until May 21st Chicago will be controlled by the Secret Service. The G8 brings a bundle of foreign officials to the condensed area. Every one of those dignitaries and the areas that they occupy are all protected by the Secret Service. The areas that are specifically under the protection of the Secret Service aren’t usually announced, considering discretion is one of the greater purposes of the Secret Service
As a collection of the world’s most capable countries, protests are a staple of the G8 summit. Now protesters or other demonstrators that are in the Chicago area during the summit are open season for law enforcement who can now arrest anyone in the area for being in a place that is under the protection of the Secret Service.
What could be the most detrimental part of the new law is that now in America, it is possible that someone could be arrested for demonstrating their views to presidential candidates or asking a question that candidate didn’t want to deal with.
Abuses of the Secret Service have already been recorded, such as the 2006 case of Steven Howards, a man who was imprisoned for telling Dick Cheney that he thought the Iraq war was disgusting.
While the official reasoning for the bill is that it cleans up an existing law that was unclear in previous years, it is clear that the true intention of H.R. 347 is to scare people who don’t want to be arrested for protesting. Now the reasoning for being arrested is so broad that it encapsulates all demonstrations against federal authority.