A bill, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, passed on Feb 27 in the U.S. House of Representatives (by margin of 388-3) and has passed in the Senate (Unanimous Consent. A record of each senator’s position was not kept). The new law would make it a felony—a serious criminal offense punishable by lengthy terms of incarceration—to participate in many forms of protest associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests of last year.
Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader.The bill makes it a federal offense “to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
In South Korea they have the antiquated “National Security Law” that was created by the Japanese Imperial Army during their 35-year occupation of Korea from 1910-1945. The law still essentially remains in place today and has been used by a series of right-wing governments to suppress the peace and reconciliation movement in South Korea since 1945. At the time of the end of WW II the U.S. put Koreans in power who had collaborated with Japanese imperialism and these elements largely remain in power to the present.
We are now seeing the equivalent of these steps into fascism here in the U.S. The Patriot Act and now these more recent chilling and outrageous laws that extend the powers of the state to control dissent are reminders of the coming ugly tide. Both the Republicans and Democrats are complicit in passing these “laws”.
I’ve learned from the South Koreans that you must keep standing strongly against these dark forces and laws – never backing down from protecting our rights. It won’t be easy to face this coming harsh tide. Our unity during this time is more important than ever. It is time to put aside personal agendas and ambitions and work across organizational lines in a determined way more than ever. The future of peace, environmental sustainability, social progress and democracy depend on it.
See the House of Representatives votes on this most recent bill here.