Obama WH gave orders in 2011 not to enforce law against Occupy protestors
posted at 12:52 pm on August 8, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
In an interview published in the August edition of the magazine Black Enterprise, President Obama was asked to respond to criticism that his administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses. His answer in part was “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.”
The statement is obviously intended to recall his groundbreaking speech at the 2004 Democratic convention in which he declared that “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.”
Those words have proven hollow to those who have opposed the president’s efforts to “remake America” and especially the Tea Party, whom he accused of racial bias in early 2011, calling the movement part of a “subterranean agenda” designed to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president.
The Occupy movement, in contrast, at least at first, struck the president as all that was good and right about America and the freedom to dissent. On Oct. 6, 2011, he publicly acknowledged that the protesters’ message “expresses frustrations American people feel.” A week later, he went “all in,” formally aligning himself with the movement. Senior campaign adviser David Plouffe announced in an interview:
We intend to make [the anti-Wall Street anger] one of the central elements of the campaign next year. One of the main elements of the contrast will be that the president passed Wall Street reform and our opponent and the other party want to repeal it.
I’m pretty confident 12 months from now, as people make the decision about who to go vote for, the gut check is going to be about, ‘Who would make decisions more about helping my life than Wall Street?’
Ultimately, the Occupiers made it clear that the Obama administration was part of the problem, not the solution, and the White House withdrew its support. But not, it turns out, before the administration had ordered officials with the General Services Administration (GSA) to “stand down” and not arrest Occupy Portland protestors who may have broken the law.
Judicial Watch reports having obtained records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via a Nov. 11, 2011 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that include internal DHS correspondence. An e-mail exchange between DHS/National Protection and Programs Directorate Chief of Staff Caitlin Durkovich and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck (since fired) specifically address Occupy Portland protests taking place on federal property in Portland. On Nov. 6, Durkovich wrote:
I am sorry to be emailing you on a Sunday night, but wanted to let you know our Press Shop has received a couple of calls from Portland media outlets about a group of 11 protesters who again set up camp at Terry Shrunk Plaza in Portland last night. They have chained themselves to a large drum filled with concrete. GSA controls the permits and has asked FPS [Federal Protective Services] not to enforce the curfew at park and the prohibition on overnight encampments. Reporters have asked if we will be arresting the protestors as FPS did last week.
Our FPS Commander in Portland says they are standing down and following GSA’s request to only intervene if there is a threat to public safety.
Caitlin: yes, that is our position; it’s been vetted with our Administrator and Michael Robertson, our chief of staff, and we have communicated with the WH [White House], which has afforded us the discretion to fashion our approach to Occupy issues…The arrests last week were carried out despite our request that the protesters be allowed to remain and to camp overnight…
The Washington Examiner reports that the Obama White House denied on multiple occasions during last year’s Occupy protests that anyone in the Obama administration had given aid or encouragement to the demonstrators.
Writes Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
We now have a new GSA scandal … that involves the Obama White House. These documents clearly show that federal agencies colluded with the Obama White House to allow the Occupy Wall Street protestors to violate the law with impunity. These documents tell us that the GSA and DHS can’t be relied upon to protect federal workers or property.
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