Did the FBI Illegally Spy on Occupy?

Search form

Did the FBI Illegally Spy on Occupy?

Did the FBI Illegally Spy on Occupy?
Fri, 7/20/2012 - by Linda Lye
This article originally appeared on ACLU of Northern California

Why is the FBI spying on Occupy protesters? The ACLU is determined to find out.

The ACLU of Northern California and San Francisco Bay Guardian on Tuesday filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI to find out whether and to what extent the Feds have been spying on members of the Occupy Movement. Although the right to protest goes to the heart of our democracy, and the FBI exists to keep us safe, the FBI has a perverse history of interpreting its mission to mean that it can spy on political activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since Occupy Wall Street began last fall, prominent Occupy chapters have sprung up all over Northern California. But the law enforcement response was swift and brutal, as police showered protesters with exploding projectiles, batons, and pepper spray. (The ACLU-NC is currently suing U.C. Davis over its pepper-spraying of peaceful student protesters, and is also partnering with the National Lawyers Guild in suing the City of Oakland over the violent crackdown on Occupy Oakland.)

Last fall's law enforcement response was also coordinated, with simultaneous crackdowns across the country in November 2011. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian and other media outlets reported that month, a non-governmental law enforcement group called "PERF," or the Police Executive Research Forum, coordinated conference calls with big city mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and the response to Occupy. More recently, documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund show that the Department of Homeland Security was engaged in nationwide monitoring and surveillance of the Occupy movement.

But we also have reason to believe that the FBI has been involved. Just days before the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protest on September 17, 2011, the FBI issued this Intelligence Bulletin, labeling the now-iconic OWS image as a "Propaganda poster." Why is the federal government spying on protesters? And just what arms of the federal government are involved?

These are just some of the questions our lawsuit hopes to answer.

Article Tabs

On Wednesday, nine Democratic senators came out in support of a resolution to make four-year public colleges in the U.S. debt-free.

One lesson of the 2014 election cycle: More money came from fewer people.

water protections, Clean Water Act, American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA

Drinking water for 117 million Americans will be protected under new rules shielding small streams, tributaries and wetlands from pollution and development.

Lawrence Lessig, Marianne Williamson, Killswitch, New Hampshire Rebellion, Move to Amend, WolfPAC, money in politics, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, Article V convention, Citizens United, campaign finance reform

On June 4, two of the nation’s leading voices against political corruption, Lawrence Lessig and Marianne Williamson, will join Occupy.com's screening of "Killswitch" in a call for sweeping citizen action to root money out of politics in 2016.

anti-austerity movement, U.K. anti-austerity protests, wealth gap, rising inequality

As election resentment gathers speed in the U.K., reinvigorated protest efforts are emerging as well.

worker-owned cooperatives, worker-owned businesses

New York City is home to the country’s largest worker-owned co-op, Co-operative Home Care Associates, which employs some 2,300 workers, mainly immigrant and minority women in the South Bronx.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago
Plains All American, Surfrider Foundation, oil spill, Santa Barbara,

New details have emerged about Plains All American's long history of generating similar disasters.

Posted 6 days 44 min ago
Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, new populism, democratic populism, wealth inequality, income inequality, Next System Project

It's time to begin the careful work of knitting together broad, pluralistic conceptions of what a transformed system might look like.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

The U.S. ranks among the most unequal countries, surpassed only by Turkey, Mexico and Chile.

Posted 6 days 54 min ago
Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, corporate trade deals, whistleblowers, fast track, Trade Promotion Authority

Letter signed by more than 250 firms demands greater transparency and says "dangerously vague" language would criminalize whistleblowers.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

Spain’s 15-M Movement made the move from city squares to the halls of power on Sunday in municipal and regional elections that saw the ruling People’s party battered at the ballot box.

March Against Monsanto, Monsanto, GMOs, genetically modified organisms, genetic seeds

Saturday marked the third annual March Against Monsanto, as thousands of people in at least 48 countries protested the American biotech giant.

Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, corporate trade deals, whistleblowers, fast track, Trade Promotion Authority

Letter signed by more than 250 firms demands greater transparency and says "dangerously vague" language would criminalize whistleblowers.

rate rigging, banking fines

Five giant banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, were fined roughly $5.7 billion, and four of them pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges over manipulation of foreign exchange rates.

Plains All American, Surfrider Foundation, oil spill, Santa Barbara,

New details have emerged about Plains All American's long history of generating similar disasters.

Sign Up