Is our government offended by the term "Occupy?" Or scared of it?
A Florida man deserved to be arrested inside the Supreme Court building last year for wearing a jacket painted with “Occupy Everything,” and is lucky he was only apprehended on unlawful entry charges, the Department of Justice says.The story is @ Wired:
The statement from the Justice Department was issued in response to a lawsuit brought by Fitzgerald Scott involving $1 million in damages and a request to have his record expunged after being arrested in the Supreme Court building a year ago last month. (January 2012)
The DoJ added that the former Marine's claim he was protected by the First Amendment was specious because the lobby inside the SCOTUS building was legally declared a First Amendment-Free Zone. Instead, the DoJ said the former Marine's claim that he was protected by the First Amendment actually helps the government's case (PDF) against him.
Constitutional Law Prof Blog cites the statute.
40 U.S.C. § 6135 provides:I guess, according to the DoJ, "Occupy Everything" doesn't express the random wish of Mr. Scott. It denotes a movement.
It is unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.
Inside, Fitzgerald was handcuffed and arrested for unlawful entry as he was viewing an exhibit on slavery.
Here is the District of Columbia’s ‘unlawful entry’ statute:In addition to the above statute:
Any person who, without lawful authority, shall enter, or attempt to enter, any public building, or other property, or part of such building, or other property, against the will of the lawful occupant or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, or being therein or thereon, without lawful authority to remain therein or thereon shall refuse to quit the same on the demand of the lawful occupant, or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.
Prosecutors eventually dismissed the charges, and he sued. (.pdf)
The Obama administration said Wednesday that Scott could also have been arrested and charged with violating the Display Clause, which makes it “unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”Ok, the guy must have gotten loud or was disturbing visitors in the lobby... or so you'd think.
Fitzgerald was not disturbing anybody, but was repeatedly told by court staff to leave the building or remove the coat. Outside the building, about a dozen “Occupy” protesters were arrested.That is disturbing. It's not like the jacket said anything that should offend anybody in a free country. It wasn't profane. It wasn't anti-Semitic or racist. The jacket said nothing like that. But what it did say represented a threat to the powers-that-be in America that they can ill-afford to allow to manifest in the public squares all over the country.
The government is afraid of the message. Plain and simple. It represents a threat to the ever-tightening stranglehold on democracy in America. They saw how the OWS movement instantly changed the conversation to institutionalized inequality and the loss of civil rights for the 99% when it formed in Liberty Square in New York City back in September 2011.
We don't hear much about the movement anymore; the media turned away from it a long time ago. But the OWS.org webpage is still up and running and the movement is still active if only behind the scenes. Right now on their front page it seems that they're in the midst of a debate on consensus... or the lack of it.
The following excerpt is from an article on the front page written by David Graeber, originally published at OccupyWallStreet.net
There has been a flurry of discussion around process in OWS of late. This can only be a good thing. Atrophy and complacency are the death of movements. Any viable experiment in freedom is pretty much going to have to constantly re-examine itself, see what's working and what isn't—partly because situations keep changing, partly because we're trying to invent a culture of democracy in a society where almost no one really has any experience in democratic decision-making, and most have been told for most of their lives that it would be impossible, and partly just because it's all an experiment, and it's in the nature of experiments that sometimes they don't work.I'll be honest and say I don't know where the movement goes next. But I do know it makes me a little uneasy that they're staying out of sight for the most part. I know they're still working hard both helping average Americans in dire straits due to the economy, and trying to come up with ways to strengthen our ailing democracy at the same time.
I do wish they'd post on Dkos once in a while though so those of us wanting to support their efforts could stay abreast of their endeavors.
(perhaps they should gather a couple hundred hearty occupiers, put on some "Occupy Everything" jackets, and then go back and occupy the SCOTUS building)
I'd even buy someone a jacket.