Recently, cities including New York, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City and Oakland cleared out their Occupy Wall Street protests from their encampments. Beforehand, many cities participated in several conference calls with representatives from the Federal Government about ways to break up these protests
The Feds’ role during these discussions hasn’t been fully ascertained. From their statements, they implied they were just giving advice and that it was a local matter. These cities were advised by the Feds to seek out legal reasons to justify clearing out these protesters, such as focusing on ordinances like curfew and zoning.
We don’t know who initiated the conference calls. We also don’t know what agencies participated in these calls or what was discussed.
Since the official statements are a bit lacking, two organizations have filed a Freedom of Information Act requests asking for “any and all communications regarding the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”
Rick Ellis, Minneapolis Top News Examiner reporter, was able to get the Department of Homeland Security to admit they had a limited role. He reported that the Federal Protective Services (FPS) assisted Portland Police. However, they were charged primarily with ensuring that Federal Buildings that were nearby were protected. The FPS did make some arrests in Portland. The number of arrests is currently unknown.
There seems to be many issues swirling about the Washington DC wind. Did the Feds initiate these meetings between the cities? What legal authority do they have? What agencies were involved? If true, is the Obama administration supportive of the Occupy movement as they claim?
Since the statements from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department have been lacking, I wouldn’t be surprised if the FOIA requests show that the Feds were in reality very active.
If this was a Federal initiative, I don’t see where Article I: Section 8 gives them the authority. Some might suggest the General Welfare clause does. However, I wonder which interpretation that is being used: the Supreme Court rulings post 1920 or our Founder’s original intent? I think I know what James Madison’s response would be.
“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
Also, we need to learn everything that Homeland Security did here. This is, after all, the organization that is supposed to work with the other agencies and protect us from terrorists. Did the feds consider the OWS protests a terrorist threat? Is this a forerunner to even deeper involvement by the Department of Homeland Security in the lives of everyday Americans?
The Tenth Amendment Center communications director recently wrote an article about the TSA expanding its role outside the airports to our highways. So does this mean that our citizens are going to be groped along the side of the road?
Many Presidents have come and gone, telling us their number one job is to protect us. As Judge Napolitano has stated many times, the President’s role is to secure our rights not to protect us.
What was it that Benjamin Franklin said about trading liberty for security?
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.
With DHS and TSA, we’re seeing Franklin’s warnings coming true.
The DHS simply doesn’t have the authority to coordinate with cities to end protests. There are no reports of terrorists being arrested. This is clearly a State Issue via the Tenth Amendment. It appears” Big Sis” Janet Napolitano doesn’t take her Constitutional Oath seriously.
John Lambert is the outreach coordinator for the Texas Tenth Amendment Center