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John Conyers Paid Fine For Code Pink Loon

From the domestic terrorists at AfterDowningStreet.org:

[Reuters caption:] Anti war protesters during U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing discussing the firing of U.S. Attorneys and the interviewing of White House staff members on that subject on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 22, 2007.

WHY A CONGRESSMAN PAID THE FINE FOR MY ARREST IN CONGRESS

Sat, 2007-03-24 01:02

By Ann Wright, Retired US Army Reserve Colonel

What irony! I was arrested last week in a Capitol police abuse of power upon leaving a Congressional hearing on FBI abuses of our civil liberties.

I was arrested on March 20, 2007 in hallway outside the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives. As I stood to walk out of the Judiciary hearing on the FBI’s abuse of National Security letters, I vocally agreed with a committee member that the public does not trust the FBI because of those abuses and thanked the committee for holding oversight hearings on the abuses. The Justice Department Inspector General had reported to the Congress that FBI officials have illegally obtained access to bank records, telephone bills and social security numbers without tying the need for access to specific investigations

When I stood and publicly agreed with the Committee’s actions, House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers said that I could either stop speaking and sit down, or I could leave the hearing room. Since I was walking out of the committee hearing to drive to the airport to fly to a speaking engagement at Brown University later that day, I acknowledged the chairman’s admonition and continued out the door. I was escorted the last couple of steps by the police officer assigned to the hearing room.

Outside the hearing room, the police officer was joined by a Capitol Police Captain who ordered his fellow officer to arrest me. I protested saying that Congressman Conyers had not “gaveled” my arrest but had merely told me to either sit down or leave the room. The normal Congressional protocol is that if a committee chair gavels once the visitor is removed from the hearing room. If the committee chair gavels twice the visitor is arrested.

I know the protocol well as in the past 18 months I have stood and respectfully and quickly aired my views in many committee hearings and then have sat down following my comments. In other committee hearings I have been removed after my comments but not arrested. Prior to March 22, I had been arrested only once at a committee hearing. In July, 2006, wearing a “Gitmo orange” jumpsuit during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on the nomination of William Haynes, Department of Defense General Counsel who was one of the architects of the Department of Defense torture policies, I loudly and strongly told the committee that Haynes should not be confirmed to the lifelong appointment as a US Circuit Court of Appeals judge as his actions in formulating the torture policy of the Bush administration had compromised the integrity and professionalism of the US military. As I spoke, Committee chair Arlen Specter gaveled about twenty times and I was arrested.

But this time, after I was detained in the hallway, Congressman Conyers’ chief of staff joined us and told the police Captain that the Congressman did not want me arrested. The Captain ignored the pleas of the chief of staff and told the officer to handcuff me and take me to the station. The Committee chair’s chief of staff protested my arrest, I protested and others in the hallway protested, but to no avail.

Handcuffed, I was driven to the Capitol Police station. As the two hours of processing at that station ended, a member of Congressman Conyers’ staff came to the station and paid the $35 fine for my “disorderly conduct.” The police officer who received the money from the Congressman’s staff member said that was the first time in her memory that a member of Congress had paid the fine of an activist.

Later I found out that other activists (Medea Benjamin and other members of Codepink Women for Peace) had been in the Judiciary Committee room earlier in the morning before the meeting began, introduced themselves to the witnesses and sat down. They were told by the hearing room staffer not to sit in particular chairs and later were told to leave the room. The police removed the activists from the room. As they were forced into the hallway, Congressman John Murtha walked by. The activists appealed to Murtha for help to let them stay in the hearing. Murtha said “This is not a police state and you should be in the hearing room,” and called the House of Representatives’ Sergeant at Arms and told him to let the activists back into the hearing room.

Less than one hour later, I went into the Committee room, eventually made my comments as I walked out of the hearing room and was ordered arrested by the Capitol Police Captain against the wishes of the Committee chair. No amount of explanation by me, the committee staffers or the police officers who observed my actions could prevent the arbitrary actions of the police captain who apparently was irritated from the earlier rebuke from Congressman Murtha via the Sergeant of Arms.

So my question is: Who runs the US Congress? The Congress or the Police? If it is the Congress then the head of the committee holding hearings should be the individual who decides if an individual should be removed from the hearing room or arrested for particular behavior in the hearing room. If removal or arrest is left to the discretion of police officers, I believe the officer’s individual political views and her views on the role of activists and protests could very easily be the basis for a decision on whether to arrest someone.

In peaceful, non-violent actions in Congressional committee rooms, the Congressional committee chairperson should decide when a person should be arrested, not the police.

Otherwise, the police will run the Congress

And here is the first comment to this screed, which is typical of the mindset:

American Democracy: 1789-2001 R.I.P

Submitted by Sam Thornton on Sat, 2007-03-24 03:39.

To answer the question, we now live in a police state, simple as that. All the laws and procedures for oppression are fully in place. The new state’s reach is limited only by the number of state operatives available at any given time and place. Obviously, there are greater concentrations of state police resources at the seat of government. I’m confident that defect will be rectified over time. Enjoy what few liberties are left to you (or not yet subject to official management). None but the new American nomenclatura will enjoy them in the future.

Of course Rep. Conyers (D-Al Qaeda) paid the fine using taxpayers’ money. (I wonder if that is even legal? Maybe we should ask Attorney General Gonzales.)

In peaceful, non-violent actions in Congressional committee rooms, the Congressional committee chairperson should decide when a person should be arrested, not the police.

Otherwise, the police will run the Congress.

You can bet Ms. Wright did not hold this opinion when the Republicans were chairing these committees. Then it was a matter of law who should be arrested and for what. Not the whim of the chair.

But sure, the business of our elected Representatives must be conducted with a group of professional America-haters ululating their slogans in the background.

That’s exactly what the Founders of our Republic had in mind.

  Update!

Of course one wonders what Ann Wright was doing on Capitol Hill in the first place, since by her own admission she was banned from Congress by a court order just last September.

Via the domestic terrorists at CommonDreams.org:

Banned in Washington – Where’s the Free Speech?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

by Ann Wright

So much for free speech in the nation’s capital and capitol. On July, 11, 2006 I was arrested for offering a citizen’s voice in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing against the nomination of one of the Bush administration’s architects of torture, William Haynes, former Department of Defense General Counsel (chief civilian lawyer) for a life-time appointment to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yesterday, September 7, I appeared in the Criminal Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on charges of “Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct on the United States Capitol Grounds on July 11, 2006.” During that appearance, I was ordered by the court to “Stay Away” from the US Capitol, all Senate and House Office Buildings and committee hearing rooms and the streets surrounding the Capitol area.

The court papers state that I must abide by this order until my case is disposed of and that “any violation of this condition (order) could result in your prosecution for Contempt of Court, the revocation of your release and/or your detention pending final disposition of this case.” I was released on my personal recognizance but instructed in writing that “a warrant for your arrest will be issued immediately upon any violation of a condition of this release. And shall subject you to revocation of the release; an order of detention and prosecution for contempt of court (a fine of not more than $1000 or imprisonment not more than 6 months or both.)

Another paragraph said that “if you are convicted of an offense committed while released, you shall be subject to the following penalties: imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than 5 years if convicted of committing a felony while released; and imprisonment of not less than 90 days and not more than one year if convicted of committing a misdemeanor while released; such to be consecutive to any other sentence of imprisonment.”

All of these prohibitions are because I stated in the US Congress that I am opposed to torture and that the Congress should not confirm a person associated with the Bush administration’s torture policy. These court orders definitely curtail my ability to voice to the US Congress my concerns and the concerns of much of the American people about important issues they are considering, like the following the Congress will consider next week…

But I like to go into the committee rooms and look our elected officials in the eyes and tell them what I think. It doesn’t take long to tell them because the Capitol police officer in the hearing room usually arrives at your side quickly when you speak out. When you speak out in a committee room, our elected officials, those who serve us, are left with a succinct statement of concerns about the issue. Hearings would probably be a lot better if the Congresspersons had the same police at their elbows demanding shorter statements!

I do understand that committees not take the time generally to hear from the public in their committee rooms; lobbying for an issue is done in the halls and offices. But, I think there is a role for a lightning comment—but it comes with the risk of being arrested for “disrupting” the hearing or at a minimum being escorted out of the hearing and later released.

Now that I am banned from the Capitol area, I hope others will come to the Congress and express their views. We the people must tell the Congress to be brave and courageous in these perilous times—now of all times, we need strong character and moral courage from our Congress. We the people must give them courage…

I am now banned from the Capitol area and from two military bases in the DC area as well as also banned for life (along with Codepink Women for Peace Medea Benjamin) from the National Press Club. In April, 2006 we dared to question to a Press Club speaker and were banned for life for our questions. The speaker was Senator Hillary Clinton and we asked why in her 50 minute energy policy speech she never mentioned the war on Iraq and Iraqi oil.

It surely seems that freedom of speech and the right to question our elected officials in our nation’s capital is a dangerously endangered right.

But that’s what its all about. If we don’t stand up for our freedoms, they will be taken away.

So in the spirit of they can’t take our country away from us, I will see you in Congress, the National Press Club and on the military bases—or in jail or detention camps!

You can’t ban speech and thought.

It is our country and they are our freedoms. Let’s take them back!

But as we know all too well. Laws and court orders are for the little people.

Not for America-hating professional professional protesters.

(Thanks to Doctor Raoul for the heads up on Ms. Wright’s banning.)

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, March 25th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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