Detention provisions of defense bill spark New York ‘Occupy’ protest

Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City stormed Grand Central Station during rush hour Tuesday evening, rallying against the Defense Authorization Act.

The protesters were objecting to provisions in the bill, which President Obama signed into law on Saturday, that civil liberties groups say allow the United States to detain American citizens indefinitely in military custody.

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“There’s an amendment in there that basically makes our country a place where any citizen can be detained indefinitely without a trial and without due process,” Brendan Burke, an Occupy organizer, told The New York Times.

The protests at Grand Central Station, which were dubbed a “flash mob,” were the latest from the group in New York that sparked an international movement in the fall protesting Wall Street.

This time its target was legislation described by one organizing website as “The 1% ... trying to criminalize dissent.”

The protesters also went to the New York City offices of Sens. Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who both voted for the bill.

The Defense Authorization Act sparked a vigorous debate in Congress before it was passed in December, with disagreement over whether the bill actually would allow for the detention of American citizens. Civil liberties groups and many Democrats claimed the legislation would, while the bill’s supporters argued that the authority already existed.

Obama issued a signing statement on Saturday seeking to ease concerns: “I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” he wrote. “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”

Three protesters were arrested at the Grand Central Station protests, according to the Times.

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