Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried distancing herself from the Occupy movement this week after OWS protestors disrupted Capitol Hill and even assaulted a police officer.
That’s a far cry from her original comments to ABC anchor Christiane Amanpour in October in which she expressed veiled support for the movement.
But what are the former speaker’s real positions on unlawful protestors who stir up trouble on the Hill and is she alone in her demonstrator-sympathetic views?
I was not surprised last year when Pelosi came out in defense of the OWS movement because she had secretly sympathized and aligned herself with the unlawful protestors demonstrating against the war during the Bush administration–and inappropriately asked U.S. Capitol Police not to arrest unlawful protestors who invaded her office or any other area of the Hill.
During my time as a Washington, D.C. prosecutor from 2007-2009, I was charged with the task of prosecuting all unlawful protests that took place in the District especially those at the U.S. Capitol White House and national monuments.
In fact, I investigated and prosecuted so many protestors that Code Pink nicknamed me the “protestor prosecutor,” in the wake of successfully convicting Desiree Ali-Fairooz, the woman who accosted former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In another instance, I had received affidavits from U.S Capitol Police officers about illegal Code Pink activity on the Hill, but to my surprise, officers were apparently told by Pelosi’s office not to interfere with the disorderly conduct activities and unlawful assemblies they were engaging in.
Pelosi was able to keep the police out of her own Congressional offices at times, but when the chanting and protesting disrupted other offices and other members complained, the police had more latitude to disregard the Speaker’s wishes.
U.S. Capitol Police officers told me that Pelosi’s people told them: “We support what these people are saying, we want them here. They’re delivering our message.”
When I called Pelosi’s office to locate which members of her staff actually witnessed the illegal demonstration they refused to cooperate. I stressed that as a District prosecutor I had both subpoena and arrest warrant power, and Pelosi’s staff members simply told me if they received a subpoena they would comply, but not otherwise.
When I called Pelosi’s office this week and confronted them with this story they did not deny that they did not want the protestors arrested–only that from their perspective the protestors were not actually breaking the law.
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill told me, “What you are referring to pertains to peaceful demonstrations inside our office. We did not request arrests or removal when people occupied her office. They were not breaking law. They were expressing their First Amendment rights.”
Under D.C. Statute, when protestors occupy Congressional offices and cause a disturbance or incommode are unlawfully assembling. I feel confident of that fact because as a prosecutor I successfully convicted over 60 unlawful protestors for substantially similar acts.
Despite my convictions however, not a single unlawful protestor ever served a day in jail. Many of the left wing judges in the District even expressed sympathy for the unlawful protestors after they ruled against them under D.C. law.
One judge even said to a group of anti-war protestors who were arrested at the White House for protesting President Bush that she understood what the protestors were trying to accomplish by protesting the war, and that she respected them for their courage. Another judge reached out to the demonstrators in the middle of trial and sympathetically told them that she understood the intense feelings they had.
Government officials cutting slack to–and relating to leftist, unlawful protestors is not a limited occurrence in the liberal District of Columbia. Police are often frustrated over the fact the crowd control and arrests take vast resources and time, but almost never lead to any consequence.
Many of the protestors I prosecuted often returned with smiles on their faces knowing full well they could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.
Even Ali-Fairooz, the woman who assaulted Condoleeza Rice was only given probation.
The judge in that case was a judge I respected very much, but I was surprised when he told the defendant that although there were those in the judiciary that would send her to jail for what she had done, “it won’t happen in this courtroom.”
When my judge said this, I told him that if the defendant did not face a consequence such as jail time she would not learn her lesson and she could even end up trying to attack President Bush placing lives in danger–particularly her own. A few months later on July 4, 2008, she charged President Bush at the Monitcello and had to be tackled by U.S. Secret Service agents.
Apparently, the District hasn’t changed much since I left my position as the “protestor prosecutor.” Unlawful protesting is still taking place and it sounds like it’s even getting worse. Redstate reported earlier this week that someone around the Occupy DC camp threw a smoke bomb at the White House this week. U.S. Secret Service Police were unable to determine who threw the bomb, but did clear Lafayette Park as a result.
The Redstate piece ended by implying that in the District there is apparently one rule for protestors and another for everyone else, and I can’t say that based on my experiences as a Washington, D.C. prosecutor that is untrue–but it should be because justice should be blind, not politically motivated.