(NewsNation) — Former Secret Service special agent Evy Poumpouras told NewsNation that while people have the right to peacefully protest, what’s he’s been recently seeing is something more complicated people expressing their own opinion vs. people being paid to possibly harass or stalk individuals.
“But here’s the difference: They’re public figures. And this is where it becomes different. It’s the same thing when we protected the president, the vice president, chiefs of staff … wherever these people would go, they would attract individuals who had unhealthy interest toward them, or wanted to cause them harm,” Poumpouras said Monday.
Poumpouras’ statements come after Shut Down DC —a protest group in the capital — tweeted Friday that it would send people money via Venmo for any confirmed sightings of specific Supreme Court justices. The tweet named Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts — all of whom voted to overturn Roe V. Wade.
Service industry workers in the Washington, D.C. area, could get up to $250 for reporting the location of a Supreme Court justice out in public.
The tweet followed reports that a crowd of protesters gathered outside a Charlie Morton’s Steakhouse in D.C. on Wednesday as Kavanaugh ate inside. The protesters called for the restaurant’s manager to kick the justice out and not serve him.
Kavanaugh was ultimately forced to leave through a back door exit after protests grew larger outside the main door of Morton’s.
Chuck Marino is the CEO of Sentinel Security Solutions — a leading Global Security and Crisis Management firm — and a former Department of Homeland Security advisor.
He tells NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Monday that there’s a possibility where, in some cases, these bounties could be punishable by law.
“A bounty offer like this, by this group, borders on stalking and a disruption of public places —almost a disruption of law and order and public, if you will ” Marino began. “So there are local laws that can be enforced here but as I said earlier, there’s no federal statue that these protective details are traveling with,” he continued.
The targeting of SCOTUS justices isn’t entirely a surprise. In June, the House of Representatives gave final congressional approval and President Joe Biden signed a bill, extending protection to the justices’ immediate family members following the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion.
Marino calls the legislation a big step and says it “took long enough”. Additionally, he explained that, while the formal protection protocol to the justices’ residences are to ensure they’re free from intimidation and threat, he says it also takes enforcing current laws on the books.
“It would help if the Department of Justice would start enforcing the laws that are on the books and that would start with these protest groups not being right out in front of these Justices’ homes,” Marino said.
The abortion decision led to gatherings outside the homes of the conservative justices. The gatherings did not result in any violence, but early last month, police arrested a man near Kavanaugh’s house in Maryland. They said he traveled all the way from California with a gun, zip ties and pepper spray. The man later pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, but remains behind bars Monday
While biking in Delaware this weekend, the president said he had a message for protesters.
“Keep protesting. Keep making your point. It’s critically important,” Biden said. “We can do a lot of things to accommodate the rights of women in the meantime. But fundamentally, the only way we are going to change this is if we have a national law that reinstates Roe V. Wade, that’s the bottom line.”
Planned Parenthood has come out in the past saying it rejects any threats of violence during protests.
Similarly, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended the protesters against Kavanaugh who gathered outside Morton’s Steakhouse in an interview Sunday,
In response to Kavanaugh’s dining experience, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, tweeted in response to the news: “Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions.” This was meant to be an ironic comment about Kavanaugh’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
Buttigieg defended his husband’s response, saying that, “When public officials go into public life, we should expect two things: One, that you should always be free from violence, harassment and intimidation … and two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protest, people exercising their First Amendment rights.”