Obama Admin Blesses GSA Decision Not to Arrest Occupy Protesters
Barack Obama found himself in hot water when he told a group of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors, “Families like yours, young people like the ones here today — including the ones who were just chanting at me — you’re the reason that I ran for office in the first place.”
The President was harshly criticized for essentially giving a “shout out” to a movement plagued by accusations of criminal and violent behavior. But Judicial Watch recently uncovered evidence suggesting that Obama White House support for the OWS crowd was not limited to rhetoric.
Last week, we released records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicating that the General Services Administration (GSA), with the approval of the Obama White House, instructed law enforcement officers to “stand down” and not arrest “Occupy Portland” protestors who were in violation of the law.
You read that correctly.
The records, which we obtained pursuant to a November 11, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, include internal DHS correspondence. And one November 6, 2011, e-mail exchange between DHS/National Protection and Programs Directorate Chief of Staff Caitlin Durkovich and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck (who has since been fired) specifically related to Occupy Portland protests taking place on federal property in Portland.
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…
Given the history of the OWS movement and its “members,” the decision to ignore their crimes is incredibly irresponsible.
From its inception, the OWS movement has been beset with accusations of “crimes and dangerous behavior” during its protests. Here’s a partial list of accusations levied against OWS protestors: sexual assault, destruction of property, drug use, assaulting a police officer, and petty theft.
And it doesn’t seem to matter where these protests take place, whether it’s New York City or Portland, Oregon.
According to the Oregonian, the week before the above email exchange, on October 30, 2011:
Twenty-five Occupy Portland demonstrators were arrested…after refusing to leave Jamison Square. The arrests capped an intense hours-long standoff between police and dozens of protesters who refused to leave the Pearl District park after it was declared closed at midnight. Officers, some in riot gear and others on horses, faced off with protesters who remained in the square, despite being ordered to leave.
The protesters were reportedly arrested on accusations of “trespassing, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct for the noise complaints from neighbors.”
And what happened after the Obama administration told law enforcement to stand down?
According to Fox News:
The most serious incident [of Occupy violence] was reported in downtown Portland last night [November 8, 2011] -- cops responded to calls of a Molotov cocktail being set off near the city's World Trade Center. Authorities had received unconfirmed information a week earlier that people within the Occupy Portland encampment were constructing the crudely made bomb, which is normally fashioned from a glass bottle filled with gas and a soaked rag or cloth sticking out of the opening as a wick.
The Obama administration cannot hide behind the disclaimer that they only allowed protesters to violate curfew so long as there was no threat to public safety. First, the law is the law and it must be enforced in a consistent fashion. And, second, when you condone characters who have reportedly demonstrated a penchant for violence, you are inviting chaos. There is simply no excuse for giving OWS special treatment.
The name Robert Peck, the GSA official involved in the email exchange, may be familiar to you. Peck was at the center of a scandal involving the GSA in 2010, where the agency spent $823,000 on a lavish Las Vegas “training conference” that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception. And he got fired for it.
Peck, who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates, including Barack Obama, was also previously implicated in an unrelated GSA scandal for reportedly brokering a controversial lease deal for a Democratic donor and friend of former Vice President Al Gore. Per The Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott: “In Peck’s first go-round at GSA, controversy was sparked when it was learned that excessively high rent was being paid by the FCC to the owner of a building who also happened to be a Democratic donor. Peck was the official who made the deal possible.”
Peck was deposed by Judicial Watch on Tuesday in a separate lawsuit on behalf of Linda Shenwick, a GSA whistleblower. Ms. Shenwick was allegedly subjected to retaliation from Peck and others because of her opposition to wasteful spending, including the infamous GSA parties that have now caused so much controversy.
And now we have a new GSA scandal – one 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 protesters 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.
Incredibly, responding to the media crush of interest in this Judicial Watch find, the Obama administration is now saying that the public shouldn’t believe the Obama administration documents and that Peck’s email is “incorrect.” Despite the sad attempt to throw Peck under the bus, the documents speak for themselves and detail, in black and white, high-level communications within the Obama administration. If there are additional documents that show these Obama administration documents are false, they should be produced by the Obama administration.
While we wait for that to happen, to view the entire production of records obtained by Judicial Watch, click here.