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by Yvette Carnell
On Thursday, President Obama signed H.R. 347, a bill that could drastically limit the ability of Americans to assemble and protest. It is now a federal offense to assemble at many political events, essentially criminalizing protesting.
Under the new law, anyone who enters Secret Service protected property and “engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct” or “impede[s] or disrupt[s] the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” can be arrested.
Before you jump to the conclusion that anyone who impedes the Secret Service could be endangering Obama, and thus should be arrested, keep in mind that the Secret Service not only protects the President, but is also called in to monitor national events, sporting events, state funerals, inaugural addresses, NATO meetings, G-8 Summits, and a host of other events.
Remember all those people who flew in to protest George W. Bush’s *selection* by the Supreme Court during the 2000 inauguration? If that happened in 2012, this bill, the one just signed by President Obama, would make it easier to arrest those protesters.
The law President Obama signed makes a bad law worse. Previously, a person could only be arrested for “knowingly” and “willfully” impeding the Secret Service, but now a protester could be arrested for unknowingly impeding the Secret Service, even if they have no idea that the *Secret* Service is monitoring the event.