Occupy's Public Safety Threat Ignored by DOJ
It has been less than seven months since the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement first set up camp in New York City and around the country, yet it was over one year ago that Eric Holder’s Justice Department (DOJ) ignored a Member of Congress’ warning about the coming movement that had “threatened to seriously endanger the welfare of the United States.”
This week’s “May Day” demonstrations have already threatened lives and put our law enforcement on alert for violence and aggressive attacks. There have been 6,990 arrests of Occupiers around the country prior to May 1, yet our Justice Department continues to ignore this threat to public safety.
On November 9, 2011, Cause of Action asked DOJ Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar to investigate the status of the DOJ’s response to the letter Rep. Jason Chaffetz had sent to Eric Holder in March of 2011. On December 28, 2011, the DOJ OIG declined our request, refusing to look into the request from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to Attorney General Eric Holder to clear threats to the safety of Americans presented months earlier.
Even in the midst of arrests, huge expenses for local law enforcement, and rape and violence at various OWS rallies, this Administration refuses to investigate this serious threat. Furthermore, President Obama went so far as to endorse the Occupy movement, saying that the protestors were the “reason he ran for office in the first place.”
Fast-forward to May 1, 2012. The Occupy movement touts “May Day” as a strike across the country with marches planned in numerous cities in the name of economic justice. But these plans are anything but harmless and peaceful. FBI agents are able to foil a bridge-bombing plot of five self-proclaimed anarchists with links to the Occupy Cleveland movement in Ohio. NYPD’s office issues a memo for its officers stating that the “May Day” protests “may attract militant elements from inside and outside the OWS movement that may seek to directly confront law enforcement officials using barricades, riot shields, and possibly weapons such as pipes and rocks” [emphasis added]. Not to mention the previous counts of rape and violence that occurred at Occupy sites over the past six months.
Yet silence continues from the DOJ.
Apart from the presence of violence and the unceasing threat of attacks, the Occupy movement is costing cities, and therefore taxpayers, millions of dollars. The first two months of the OWS movement alone cost $13 million “in police overtime and other municipal services,” and local governments continue to shell out more money to protect citizens. While protecting the right to peaceful protest is a matter of free speech, the First Amendment does not protect charging taxpayers to prop up an environment of terrorism.
The ripple effects of the resources that are being pulled to monitor OWS are yet another alarming reason that the DOJ should take our request and the request of Rep. Chaffetz seriously. In just two months of the OWS movement demanding police attention in Washington, DC, “violent crime [was] up 13 percent and overall crime [was] up 10 percent” in the city. When law enforcement is pulled away from their duties to subdue Occupiers, the city suffers. Crime increases. Costs go up. And threats to public safety continue to emerge from a movement whose members proudly display signs and banners with defamatory messages about police and law enforcement.
As Rep. Chaffetz defined in his letter over a year ago, the looming threats, which manifested themselves in the Occupy movement, “clearly constitute domestic terrorism and pose substantial harm to the American people and the economy.”
Are we left with an administration that has claimed victory against terrorism abroad while failing to investigate it here at home? Is the DOJ comfortable with allowing a movement to continue to escalate as public safety is threatened? Will it take the loss of life to motivate Eric Holder to act, or by then will it already be too late?