Federal security objects to Occupy LR demonstration

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NO WELCOME MAT: Occupy Little Rock demonstration encountered objections from federal security personnel.
  • NO WELCOME MAT: Occupy Little Rock demonstration encountered objections from federal security personnel.

OFFICERS ON WATCH: At Occupy LR demonstration.
  • OFFICERS ON WATCH: At Occupy LR demonstration.
Jennifer Pierce reports that federal security officers objected to a small Occupy Little Rock demonstration on the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse at Capitol and Broadway last night.

She reports filming of the demonstrators and repeated suggestions — absent citation of law — that the four people were prohibited from demonstrations on the sidewalk and from taking photographs there. No arrests were made.

Not an encouraging episode. Wonder if the gun nuts could be encouraged to join Occupy Little Rock in a demonstration in behalf of the 1st Amendment?

Pierce's account follows:

BY JENNIFER PIERCE

Just wanted to let you know what happened on a sidewalk near the U.S. District Court at a demonstration last night. Myself and four other Occupy Little Rock members were doing a sign-wave to raise awareness of the indefinite detention provisions of last year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and to stand in solidarity with the case that is being fought against it in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York today (Hedges v. Obama).

Trey Weir, Caleb Baumgardner, and Crystal Marie Dore, and I had been on the sidewalk for about two hours at the corner of Capitol and Broadway when a federal officer approached Trey, Crystal, and I and started taking notes; asking what we were doing, if we had invited others, how many more people were expected.... He then told us we could not be on federal property. We explained that we believed we had a right to be on the sidewalk as public space and I began to take pictures of him. He then informed us that it was against the law to take photos on federal property. I asked for the specific law and he said it was Title 18 but when I asked again exactly what the law stated, he said he would have to look it up and get back to me. We continued to protest on the sidewalk and the officer returned with another federal officer who once again told us we couldn't be there and could not take photos but still didn't have the specific code saying so. We refused to leave again and they said they would check on it and let us know. They walked off about a hundred yards and continued to watch us, then walked back by videotaping us. We stayed another two hours but they never brought any code stating we couldn't be there. They can videotape us, but we can't take pictures of them?!!

They must have missed this directive: New York Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S Department of Homeland Security in federal court and a settlement was reach in October 2010 in which the government agreed that no federal statutes or regulations bar people from photographing the exterior of federal buildings. The Federal Protective Service issued the attached directive to officers that the regulations "do not prohibit photography by individuals of the exterior of federally leased or owned facilities from publicly accessible spaces such as streets, sidewalks, parks or plazas."

The plaintiffs challenging the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA are Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Brigitta Jónsdóttir, Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen, Kai Wargalla, and Alexa O’Brien. You can visit http://www.stopndaa.org/ for more info and all of the court filings.

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