D.C.

House Resolution 347 has Occupy protesters riled up

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The remaining Occupy DC protesters in McPherson Square are crying foul over a piece of legislation that makes acts like protesting a criminal offense if it's done in certain locations.

The bill would make trespassing on the White House grounds a criminal offense. (Photo: Associated Press)

However, one of the bill's co-sponsors is cautioning that there is a lot of misinformation floating around about the measure, which is aimed at stiffening penalties for those who trespass at the home of the president or the vice president.

The bill, officially called H.R. 347, would increase the penalty for for people who set foot at the White House or the the vice president's home near the Naval Observatory. However, protesters say that they worry about the measure restricting protests at events attended by the Commander in Chief or other politicians who have Secret Service protection.

"It kind of crushes the First Amendment for people across the country," protester Kelly Canavan says. "We have the freedom to express ourselves and that's not a small thing. Now, we're looking at the possibility of that freedom being taken away."

While Canavan and other Occupiers took to Twitter to petition President Barack Obama to veto the bill, a represntative for Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who introduced the measure to Congress, says groups like Occupy are fear-mongering.

"This bill does not affect anyone's ability to protest in any way whatsoever," Rooney's spokesperson said. "This technical fix will continue to allow people to protest outside the White House."

The fix Rooney's spokesperson talks of would have allowed for increased penalties on people like the man who jumped the White House fence last August a felony. Instead, the man could only be charged with unlawful entry, which is misdemeanor under D.C. Law.

In the meantime, Canavan says that if H.R. 347 is signed, the Occupy movement is ready to take their cause to the next level.

"When do we start challenging these things in a more serious way?" she said. "That time is coming rapidly."

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