WASHINGTON, DC (May 1, 2019) — Everyday we are able to stay in the embassy is a victory. We had an incredible win today in defense of peace and against the Trump administration’s illegal coup efforts. This struggle, however, is far from over.
The administration and U.S. intelligence agencies coordinated with the ultra-right wing supporters of Juan Guaido to attempt to seize the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. this afternoon but were completely shut down by the combination of stalwart disciplined activists who held their ground and a legal strategy that defined and asserted their rights.
The assembled pro-coup protesters expected that Juan Guaido’s “Ambassador” Carlos Vecchio would announce that the coup makers would be seizing the embassy. Instead, Vecchio was forced to make a quick exit from the scene in front of the embassy after he pathetically gave a speech out front but couldn’t enter.
A member of his entourage announced that at some point they hoped to be in the embassy as they would be initiating some undefined legal process to do so. But the plans to seize the embassy just as the other diplomatic properties have been seized — the plans to raid and arrest peace activists present at the invitation of the Venezuelan government and hand the embassy to the fake ambassador — have so far failed.
Secret Service and D.C. Police Served Notice about Unconstitutional Conduct at Venezuelan Embassy
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, representing peace activists who have been staying the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the Venezuelan government, sent the following letter to the Director of the US Secret Service and the Chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department giving both entities “formal and legal notice of unconstitutional conduct on the part of the officers deployed at the diplomatic mission of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, DC.”
The letter states: “Your officers are acting as aiders, abettors, encouragers, and joint tort-feasors in the assaultive, menacing, threatening and at times violent conduct against the lawfully present peace activists at the Embassy by a mob of right wing thugs.”
Dear Director Randolph D. Alles, Deputy Director William J. Callahan and Chief Peter Newsham
By this letter we are writing to place you on formal and legal notice of unconstitutional conduct on the part of officers deployed to the diplomatic mission of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, D.CC. Your officers are acting as aiders, abettors, encouragers, and joint tort-feasors in the assaultive, menacing, threatening and at times violent conduct against the lawfully present peace activists at the Embassy by a mob of right wing thugs.
It is incumbent upon you to cause the cessation of this conduct or it will be understood that this is an extension of police policy, practice or procedure that is endorsed organizationally. W e would anticipate formal legal action under 42 USC § 1983, Bivens, and any other applicable civil rights laws, absent immediate cessation.
As you know, the Embassy is protected by the Vienna Convention and under that binding law the “premises of the mission shall be inviolable.” Under the law the “premises of the mission” include not only the building but the “land ancillary thereto.” This without question includes the area of the front steps and landing, the back steps, and the back walkway. The host country is required to ensure that the mission and its premises are not violated.
Yesterday, instead of enforcing the law, officers present refused to take action against persons engaging in unlawful actions against the mission and against other persons who are lawfully present. The persons lawfully present inside the building are US peace activists, there as guests at the invitation of the mission staff and of the lawful owners of the premises, and have been defending and upholding the Vienna Convention and international law. Persons present, some for weeks, have also established legal tenancy rights, have been using meeting areas for educational and cultural events, and under the laws of the District of Columbia may not be evicted without due process.
Repeatedly, officers refused to uphold the law and instead facilitated the illegal violations of mission premises and physical assaults. They have provided encouragement, aiding and abetting and acting as joint tort-feasors in the violation of the embassy while the mob mounted a physical assault yesterday against the embassy premises, assaulting persons lawfully present and breaking and entering.
Persons are engaging in threatening, assaultive and menacing criminal conduct. Your officers are encouraging and facilitating this. They are as responsible here for the ensuing violence as the police who stood aside in Charlottesville or in the face of violent threats and assaults against activists during the civil rights era of Dr. Martin Luther King.
As of this morning, US government and municipal officers have continued to violate the law, including the Vienna Convention, allowing the mob to violate the premises of the mission, allowing the m ob to advance upon persons lawfully present on the front steps and portico and threatening those persons.
The officers made it clear that they would not protect the embassy premises or intervene to keep the mob from illegally advancing on the persons on the front steps and portico who were lawfully present. Indeed, the police facilitated and allowed the right – wing mob to advance on inviolable mission premises to illegally seize the area.
Both the US Secret Service and the D.CC. Metropolitan Police Department must abide by their legal obligations, including those mandated by the Constitution and by the Vienna Convention which as a ratified treaty is recognized as binding law in the United States. As above, officers of both Agencies must be directed to cease their unlawful conduct immediately or we will understand that your Agencies are ratifying and supporting this illegal conduct.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.