Occupy Long Island activists rallied Friday outside the Patchogue office of Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-Southampton) to protest a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the military’s indefinite detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge.
Protesters picketed in front of the building on Oak Steet, calling NDAA “one more step to tyranny.” While the demonstration occurred outside of Bishop’s office, he was not the focus of their anger. The congressman met with the group last week to discuss their concerns.
“This is not a demonstration against Mr. Bishop, it might be a demonstration against Congress more generally because we feel so unrepresented,” Carl Mirra of Occupy Long Island said. “But Mr. Bishop has been responsive to us, and we want to continue those good relations so he can pass or at least promote some legislation that will help work against the NDAA provisions.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, Democrat, it’s just despicable that this would exist,” the Adelphi University professor added.
President Barack Obama signed the bill into law with a note that his administration would not use the provision. Bishop said through a spokesman that he shares the protesters’ concerns.
“We’re evaluating legislative options to clarify that nothing in the defense authorization act jeopardizes the right of American citizens to habeas corpus protections,” spokesman Oliver Longwell said.
Protesters said that parts of the bill mirrored practices from countries under police states in the past.
“What bothers me about the act is that it makes it perfectly legal for the United States government to send American citizens, whom they deem to be terrorists, and have them disappear,” said Brookhaven resident Richard Morgan, who took the day off from work for the protest. “How is that different from what was done in the former Soviet Union?”