- Posted March 13, 2012 by
Washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy DC protests H.R. 347
- jmsaba, CNN iReport producer
On March 12th, 2012 at 7pm protesters from Occupy DC gathered at McPherson Square with the purpose of voicing their discomfort with the signing, by President Obama, of H.R. 347.
H.R. 347, also known as the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, passed the House 399-3 last week, and on Thursday it was signed into law by the President. H.R. 347 is a modified version of an old law which restricted entering or blocking public areas closed off by the Secret Service while an individual, under their protection, is passing through; The law also included major public events.
Occupy movements all over the U.S. are well aware of this law as it has been used to shunt protestors at major political events into “free speech zones”. Police may use this law at their discretion when events such as the G8 or other bilateral conferences are taking place.
The modified version added a few areas, within the District of Columbia, to the federally protected areas in the list. In addition, the new version got rid of part of the language from the original law, which noted that protesters were entering a protected area “willfully and knowingly” H.R. 347 deletes the word “willfully,” meaning that prosecutors no longer need to prove that someone knew what they were doing was illegal to convict them.
Given this, the Occupy DC movement felt as if the version of the law has been rewritten, specifically, to target their protests.
Approximately 80 protesters headed to the White House in what they called 'a silent march'; A few of them had put tape on their mouth to symbolize, what they feel is, an infringement on their 1st amendment. Heading down 15th st NW they made a quick stop by Freedom Plaza, where the other Occupy DC movement is, to attempt to get others to join the protest. They then headed to the White House where they decided to take out the tape covering their mouths and proceeded to actively chant as they extended banners reading: "Congress shall make no law prohibiting freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble" throughout the front fence. After 30 minutes they then decided to 'take the streets' and headed up on 17th st NW until they reached K st where theylay on the road, blocking traffic, which prompted police cars to quickly increase in numbers. As they marched eastbound on K street, they attempted to have an impromptu 'General Assembly' until a 1st warning-for arrest, was given on the intersection of K and 16th citing DC laws prohibiting the blocking of Federal roadways.
The protest ended back at McPherson square and according to a police spokesman no arrests were made, in what at times seemed to be a potentially escalating situation.