Trump administration proposes tough rules on protests

The Trump administration is proposing to overhaul rules for protests in front of the White House and at other iconic locations in Washington, D.C., in an effort that opponents say is aimed at shutting down free speech.

The National Park Service’s (NPS) proposal, for which public comments are due by Monday, would close much of the sidewalk north of the White House to protests, limit the ability for groups to have spontaneous protests without permits in that area and on the National Mall and open the door to potentially charging some demonstrating groups fees and costs for their events.

The plan was released in August with little fanfare. But civil rights groups have been sounding alarm bells in recent days as the comment period comes to a close.

In making the proposal, the NPS cites its mandate to protect land, saying that it wants to “provide greater clarity to the public about how and where demonstrations and special events may be conducted in a manner that protects and preserves the cultural and historic integrity of these areas.”

But opponents see a connection to President Trump’s disdain for protesters, and congressional Republicans’ denunciations of recent demonstrations against new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as “mob rule.”

They argue that the iconic places in Washington, D.C., that hosted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 and the Occupy encampments in 2012 need to remain as welcoming as possible for the First-Amendment-guaranteed right to protest, not just for D.C. locals, but for people from around the country who travel to the nation’s capital.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said that while most recent administrations have tried to crack down on protests covered by the NPS unit known as the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Trump effort is more significant.

“This administration’s come in with the most bold and consequential overhaul. The consequences are enormous,” Verheyden-Hilliard told The Hill.

“There’s never been such a large effort at rewriting these regulations,” she said. “I don’t think there can be any question that these revisions will have the intent and certainly the effect of stifling the ability of the public to protest.”

While the proposal itself wouldn’t lead directly to fees being charged for protests, it asks the public to weigh in on the possibility.

Verheyden-Hilliard was particularly critical of a proposal to reduce distinctions between demonstrations and “special events,” which include concerts and festivals. Demonstrations have previously been subject to less scrutiny in permitting and can get their permits almost automatically.

Under the proposal, those protections could change, especially if anyone sings or dances at a protest.

“Speech plus music doesn’t lose its speech character,” she said. “If the event is focused on expressing views and grievances, it is a demonstration.”

The American Civil Liberties Union’s local chapter said in a blog post that major protests like King’s speech could become too expensive for their organizers.

“Managing public lands for the benefit of the American people is what Congress funds the National Park Service to do. That includes demonstrators just as much as tourists or hikers,” wrote Arthur Spitzer, co-legal director of the ACLU of D.C.

Top Democratic lawmakers are also getting involved.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, joined with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), his counterpart for the House Judiciary Committee, and other Democrats this week in denouncing the fee idea in a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“National parks must be accessible and open to the American public for peaceful assembly,” they wrote.

“While the recuperation of costs may be an appropriate standard for special events that are celebratory or entertainment-oriented, the proposed shift could have the disastrous result of undermining the freedoms of expression and assembly — which are fundamental constitutional rights — in one of our nation’s premier public parks.”

NPS spokesman Brent Everitt said any fee changes would require a separate regulatory proposal. But he nonetheless defended potential fees, citing as an example the 2012 Occupy protests in downtown D.C.’s McPherson Square and elsewhere, which cost the agency nearly $500,000.

“At this time, we want to have a genuine conversation with the public about updating a comprehensive plan to best facilitate use and enjoyment of the National Mall while preserving and protecting its monuments and memorials. Permit fees and cost recovery considerations are just one part of that overall conversation,” Everitt said in a statement.

He said the agency wants input on whether the costs to the agency are an “appropriate expenditure of National Park Service funds, or whether we should also attempt to recover costs for supporting these kinds of events if the group seeking the permit for the event has the ability to cover those costs.”

The myriad rules and standards for events on NPS land in the nation’s capital have been shaped largely by decades of litigation. And if the agency pursues a regulation like the one proposed, the lawsuits will only continue.

“If these regulations go through in current form or a substantially similar iteration, we are prepared to have them enjoined,” Verheyden-Hilliard said. “We believe that they are unconstitutional and fundamentally unsound. And moreover, they are unjustified.”

The NPS is taking comments through Monday on its regulations.gov portal.

[The Hill]

 

Trump issues nonsensical tweet mocking ‘paid protesters’ as unpaid

President Donald Trump again lashed out at demonstrators who opposed his Supreme Court nominee by smearing them as paid protesters whose checks had not yet cleared.

The president last week baselessly accused protesters against Brett Kavanaugh as bought and paid for, but he issued a tweet Tuesday morning mocking them as unpaid by their alleged benefactors.

“The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid!” Trump tweeted. “Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!”

[Raw Story]

Trump continues to Twitter attack anti-Kavanaugh women as ‘paid protesters handed expensive signs’

President Donald Trump lashed out at women opposing his nomination of conservative jurist Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, preceeding a vote by the United States Senate.

“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capital Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE,” the commander-in-chief tweeted.

“It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs,” he argued. “Big day for America!”

The Saturday tweet continued an argument Trump made on Friday against the women protesting his nominee.

“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad,” he alleged.

“Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others,” he continued, adding the hashtag #Troublemakers.

[Raw Story]

Trump promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter

The anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that George Soros, a wealthy Hungarian-American businessman who has donated millions of dollars to progressive causes, is paying people to protest President Donald Trump is a staple of the conservative ecosystem.

Last week, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham tweeted “SOROS STRIKES AGAIN” after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was confronted in a Senate elevator by survivors of sexual assault.

Now the President of the United States is getting in on the anti-Semitic action, claiming that protests against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, were “Paid for by Soros and others” in a Friday tweet.

This was the first time Trump has mentioned Soros on Twitter, per the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale. However, The Atlantic’s David Frum noted Soros was one of the “three identifiable “faces of international finance”” featured in a 2016 Trump campaign ad that was widely criticized for its anti-Semitic overtones.

The Washington Examiner’s Dave Brown noticed that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) floated the conspiracy theory about Soros paying Kavanaugh protesters during an appearance on Fox Business less than 90 minutes before Trump’s tweet.

Ana Maria Archila, one of the sexual assault survivors who was filmed confronting Flake last week, responded to Trump’s tweet in a statement, saying, “No one can pay for someone’s lived experiences.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, “The Hungarian Jewish billionaire, Holocaust survivor and philanthropist figures prominently in anti-Semitic tweets, with claims that he directly uses his largess to fund false flag events. One noteworthy allegation claims that Soros was responsible for the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. Other tweets refer to his Jewish heritage in pejorative terms and claims that he’s trying to undermine Western civilization.”

ThinkProgress’ Casey Michel recently explained the anti-Semitism behind conservatives’ Soros conspiracy theories:

Of course, as with most conspiracies, there’s a far darker reality lurking behind the notion that Soros is responsible for all the ills facing down nationalist movements. While most of those pushing Soros-based conspiracies don’t come out and say that Soros is evil because he’s Jewish, it doesn’t take much sleuthing to discern the anti-Semitism behind the conspiracies. Between the imagery of Soros pulling strings to the fact that Soros has effectively replaced “the Rothschilds” as the go-to for any conspiracy about an international cabal thwarting the people’s will, it’s not hard to catch the bigotry lacing the rising conspiracies about Soros.

Conservatives have a history of attempting to smear survivors of traumatic events as paid “crisis actors.” Sexual assault survivors’ attempts to confront Kavanaugh’s supporters have not been received well by Republicans.

The Washington Post reported in January 2017 that people were paid to attend Trump’s campaign launch announcement.

[ThinkProgress]

Several People Behind Trump Were Removed, Replaced During Rally In Montana

President Donald Trump’s rally in Billings, Montana, on Thursday had many strange moments, including a tangent where he speculated about his potential impeachment and an instance where he seemed unable to pronounce the word “anonymous.” Perhaps oddest of all, though, was that several people standing behind Trump were replaced on camera as the evening went on.

A man in a plaid shirt was replaced seemingly after he made a series of animated facial expressions as the president spoke.

A woman, who some people on Twitter said looked like to be longtime Republican operative Zina Bash, eventually came and took the man’s place on camera. You can watch the moment below:

That man was not the only one removed from his spot behind Trump during the speech. As seen in the clip below, a man and woman in the same row were replaced by two blond women. The resulting image is Trump flanked by young women.

It’s not uncommon that Trump’s rallies feature a mix of supporters and protesters, leaving Trump staffers to handle situations quickly and quietly.

But these swaps are particularly egregious considering they were all mid-speech and directly behind the president, and the people who were swapped out didn’t appear to be doing anything wrong.

The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

New York judge says Trump ‘authorized and condoned’ his security guards to rough up protesters

Trump security punch protester

A New York State judge has shot down an effort by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit against his private security guards for allegedly roughing up demonstrators who were protesting outside of Trump Tower months after he announced his presidential run.

The New York Law Journal reports that Bronx Supreme Court Justice Fernando Tapia on Tuesday declined to dismiss the suit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up by the president’s security team back in 2015.

Specifically, Tapia said that Trump himself “authorized and condoned” his security guards to rough up the protesters, and he specifically cited the president’s statement that “maybe they deserved to be roughed up” on the grounds that “it was absolutely disgusting” what the protesters were doing.

The lawsuit was filed by five Latino activists who claim that they were roughed up by longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and two other men who were employed as part of the then-candidate’s security personnel.

[Raw Story]

Trump renews attacks on NFL players, calling for suspensions

President Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on NFL players who protest during the national anthem, claiming they “wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.”

“The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted.

“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest,” he continued. “Most of that money goes to the players anyway.”

“Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!” Trump added.

Trump’s new attack came a day after the first big slate of NFL preseason games on Thursday night, during which players from several teams protestedduring “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

[The Hill]

Protesters Escorted Out of Trump Rally in Tampa

President Donald Trump‘s rally in Tampa tonight was briefly disrupted by two protesters.

Rallygoers booed and cameras picked up the protesters being escorted out of the venue.

The President briefly riffed and said, “One person. And tomorrow the headlines will be MASSIVE PROTEST.”

[Mediaite]

Trump: Statue of Liberty protester was a ‘clown’

President Trump on Thursday went after the female demonstrator who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty to protest his administration’s immigration policies, calling her a “clown.”

“You saw that clown yesterday on the Statue of Liberty, you saw those clowns that went up there,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Montana on Thursday. “I wouldn’t have done it.”

“I would have said let’s get some nets ,we’ll wait ’til she….just get some nets,” he said.

A woman was taken into custody on Wednesday, the Fourth of July, after she scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty during a protest at the statue over Trump’s immigration policies.

Police went after the woman and brought her down in a harness.

Protesters had unveiled a banner reading “Abolish I.C.E.” at the demonstration earlier Wednesday.

Democratic lawmakers have adopted calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after backlash over Trump’s since-ended policy to separate immigrant families at the border.

“We want tough, strong, powerful borders and we want no crime. And want to protect ICE,” Trump said at the rally Thursday. “They protect us and we protect them.”

[The Hill]

Media

Trump Follows Up Promise to Impose “LAW AND ORDER” With Complaint That His Friends Are Being Prosecuted for “Old” Crimes

Today in Stupid News, the president went on a rant about the importance of “LAW AND ORDER” (capitalization his), went to sleep, then woke up and began complaining about the (Republican) law-enforcement officials who are prosecuting his friends and advisers for laundering money and lying to federal authorities. In chronological order:

Some notes:

• Activists in Portland have blockaded an ICE office, and one activist posted personal information about seven ICE employees that included at least some phone numbers and home addresses.

Robert Mueller’s alleged “Conflicts of Interest” don’t exist. It is true that some (but not all) of the prosecutors working for him are or have been registered Democrats, but he and all the other people in supervisory roles related to the special counsel investigation are Republicans. (James Comey was also a Republican until recently.)

Meanwhile, all three of the former Trump advisers/cronies (Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates) who have pleaded guilty in Mueller’s investigation pleaded guilty specifically to lying to investigators after the 2016 election˘, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is charged with crimes committed over a period that ranges from 2006 until this year.

In other words, if the oldest crime being looked at by Mueller were a person, it would be 12 years old. That’s not very old! Stupid millennial-aged crimes, with their entitlement and their Justin Bieber and their falling within the statute of limitations!

[Slate]

1 2 3 9