Protesters and aspiring politicians gathered on Friday, February 3, outside congressman Duncan Hunter’s office to protest his support of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Many have voiced concern about certain provisions of the bill, arguing that it allows for indefinite detention without charge or trial of Americans suspected of having ties to terrorism. It’s feared the act could be used improperly by the government to silence nonviolent protest.
Present at the demonstration were representatives of East County progressive group Ramona Forum (an organizer of the event), conservative Tea Party activists, and members of the Occupy movement.
Three challengers to Hunter in the upcoming race were also present: Republican Terri Linnell, Libertarian Michael Benoit, and, Democrat and relative political newcomer, David Secor. A contingent of about five counter-protesters showed up in support of Hunter.
“Hunter not only voted for this violation of 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment rights, but was on the committee that reviewed the bills,” said Secor. “It’s impossible to defend the language under scrutiny.”
“It makes the whole world a war zone,” said Linnell of the act. “It lowers the standard [of terrorism] down to ‘a belligerent act.’ And that’s what’s got me concerned.”
“Dr. [Ron] Paul, who’s running for president, has introduced legislation to repeal parts of the act that [make it] not certain as to who this act applies to,” offered Benoit. “We’ve got people from all walks of the political spectrum here in protest of this, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have more Americans in protest of this, because this is how they take our rights away.”
While some of the groups called for the resignation or recall of Hunter because of his support of the act, others stated they were seeking modifications to ensure the law would never be used to implicate U.S. citizens.
Hunter’s supporters took offense to a chant of “Hey, hey, ho-ho — Duncan Hunter’s got to go,” instead suggesting a substitution of “Barack Obama.”
“We can all agree there,” chimed in Linnell. Liberal and conservative activists traded choruses of boos in response to the exchange, but otherwise the atmosphere was calm and discussion mostly remained tied to the bill in question.