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Criminalizing Dissent in America

By       Message Stephen Lendman     Permalink
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Criminalizing Dissent in America - by Stephen Lendman

America's police state laws endanger dissent.

America has a sordid repressive history. Among others, First Amendment rights are violated. 

It guarantees freedom of religion, expression, to petition government for redress of grievances, and right to peacefully assemble.

The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts restricted First Amendment freedoms. 

So did 1919 anti-communist Palmer raids, the 1934 Special Committee on Un-American Activities, its House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) successor, secret FBI COINTELPRO crackdowns, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the 2001 USA Patriot Act, and other post-9/11 measures.

These and other measures expanded government surveillance, eroded habeas, formalized military tribunals, permitted torture-extracted confessions, and instituted violence for national security.

FBI "terrorist profiles" can investigate anyone for any reason. So can local police working cooperatively or alone. Street protests can be criminalized. America's right to dissent is endangered.

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On October 28, 2011, DC Superior Court Judge Russell Canan found eight Veterans for Peace (VFP) members guilty of "failure to obey" and "blocking/incommoding." Fined $150, it could have been much worse.

Defendants cited First Amendment rights to petition government for redress of grievances. Founded in 1985, VFP opposes US-sponsored wars, saying help us end them.

It also wants domestic and international law obeyed, and crimes of war and against humanity ended. During trial proceedings, Richard Duffee petitioned for international law experts to testify. Judge Canan denied them. Defendants will appeal his verdict.

Last February, Democratic National Committee members chose Charlotte, NC for the party's 2012 national convention. 

Called "Wall Street of the South," city officials drafted an ordinance to make camping on public property a "public nuisance." It also prohibits "noxious substances," padlocks and other camping equipment, potentially able to impede traffic and create public safety concerns. In late January, it's expected to pass.

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Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx claimed enactment doesn't target specific groups, saying:

"Unlike many cities that have well-developed regulations governing protest activity, our local regulations contain gaps that need to be filled."

However, an ordinance related memo states:

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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