Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicating that the General Services Administration (GSA), with the blessing 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.
The records, obtained pursuant to a November 11, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, include internal DHS correspondence. 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...
Occupy Portland is part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been beset with accusations of "crimes and dangerous behavior" during its protests.
According to the Oregonian, the week before this 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 standoffbetween 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 protestors were reportedly arrested on accusations of "trespassing, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct for the noise complaints from neighbors."
Robert 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. Peck was fired as a result of the incident. Peck, who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates, including Barack Obama, was 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 today in a separate lawsuit on behalf of Linda Shenwick, a GSA whistleblower who Peck and others allegedly retaliated against because of Ms. Shenwick's opposition to wasteful spending, such as parties, that have now caused so much controversy.
"We now have a new GSA scandal - one that involves the Obama White House," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "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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