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

The Vermont Senate passed a bill to require labeling on all GMO foods sold in the state – signaling a wave of nationwide victories against the Gene Giants may be underway.

From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain.

D-CENT is creating privacy-aware tools and a social networking platform for large-scale economic empowerment, citizen collaboration and participatory decision-making.

Revolts are shaking the world, bursting in the most unexpected places, but they rarely take power. Is the big explosion still coming?

A right-wing Canadian outfit funded by the Kochs wants to privatize the Canadian health care system – and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now steering policy that way.

Anyone who has ever gone "skipping," or "dumpster diving," knows that shops regularly throw out masses of perfectly edible food.

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago

The Unis’tot’en Action Camp was first put up in 2010 after industry proposed a gas pipeline and a liquefied natural gas plant.

Posted 5 days 8 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.

Posted 5 days 8 hours ago

Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps – which are now a $426 trillion business.

Posted 5 days 8 hours ago

We have a chance to make our voices loudly heard regarding the safety hazards of opening a new dirty, metal-shredding facility in our community.

Posted 5 days 8 hours ago

People of color are disproportionately caught up in the government’s dragnet.

Shame the Press

Political cartoonist Kip Lyall often skewers the media, an institution that should be performing a public service but instead serves its corporate masters.

From the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Occupy Our Homes, these groups are galvanizing communities to action nationwide.

After 9/11, the NYPD built in effect its own CIA — and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA.

America Is perpetually at war with its own people.

Sign Up