How Americans lost their free speech – Obama signs anti free speech bill.
In March 2012 President Obama signed H.R. 347 into law. The H.R. 347 law is an update of an existing law that was originally passed in 1971. This law restricts the access to areas around people or events that have protection from the Secret Service. The law gives the Secret Service the right to expand a restricted area and make it illegal for you to enter that area even if you did it accidently. This law outlaws protesting near people (or places/events) who are “authorized” to be protected by the Secret Service. The H.R. 347 law makes it easier for the Secret Service to misuse existing laws to arrest and prosecute peaceful lawful protesters by lowering the requirement of intent.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The H.R. 347 is an obvious violation to our First Amendment based on premise it limits our freedom of speech, our right to assemble peaceably and our right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
‘Oops!’ Doesn’t Count Anymore
The pre-existing law made it a federal offense to “willfully and knowingly” enter restricted buildings or grounds. The new law only specifies that the criminal must only “knowingly” enter a restricted space to be in violation of the law.
For example, a G-20 meeting is hosted in the United States and the Secret Service decides it wants a larger perimeter around the event. If a citizen wonders into a restricted zone. That person could be arrested, federally prosecuted and found guilty of violating this law. The penalty is up to 10 years if they are carrying a weapon, or 1 year if they are not – for merely walking into a restricted area without even knowing the area is illegal. The change to this law has made it easier for them to arrest and prosecute you.
How this Effects your Right to Protest
The H.R. 347 law has been used to shunt protesters at major political events into “free speech zones”. Am I the only one who thought the entire U.S. was a free speech zone? Police are allowed to use this law at their discretion when events such as the G8 Summit, governmental debates or any ”official event” .
Today, any occasion that is officially defined as a National Special Security Event (NSSE) calls for Secret Service protection. A NSSE event could include basketball championships, concerts, the Olympic games even though these events have nothing to do with government business.
The H.R. 347 law is written too vague and overly broad. It seems to be a trend that vague laws are specifically designed to create ‘wiggle room’ for Federal authorities to potentially abuse civil and human rights. Any law that tries to take away our liberties should raise red flags across our country.