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

Borrowers with federal student loans appear to be buckling under the weight of their debt, as more than half of Direct Loans – the most common type of federal student loan – aren't being repaid on time or as expected.

To understand Ferguson one must understand Kinloch – a once vibrant middle-class community in north St. Louis County and the first incorporated black community in the state – which today lies vacant and decayed.

We are in a global battle of the people versus the plutocrats and this battle has a ticking timer called the climate crisis.

As state-of-the-art buildings belonging to some of the world's biggest, richest tech firms contrast with the child poverty and unemployment outside, it may not be long before London's less privileged residents take action.

How four decades of lobbying and legislation gave corporations dominion over our economy—and eroded the American middle class.

With a shift in media underway, there's an opportunity for alternative online news sources to turn youth apathy into engagement and cynicism into a demand for social and political change.

Posted 5 days 12 hours ago

New but little-known Pentagon directives authorize the use of armed drones against American citizens in the homeland in the context of domestic emergencies.

Posted 6 days 5 hours ago

Thousands of climate activists from across Europe are expected to join local protesters on the German-Polish border for a mass demonstration against a huge coal mining project.

Posted 5 days 12 hours ago

Charlie Hardy, the 75-year-old former Catholic priest now running for Senate, wants to halt NSA spying on ordinary citizens and overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment.

Posted 1 day 14 hours ago

A lot has changed since we last published this report during the Occupy movement in 2011. With major protests in the news again, we decided it's time to update our cell phone guide for protestors.

Posted 5 days 12 hours ago

The glut of underwater mortgages needs to be written down to match underlying assets, not just to help homeowners but to revive the economy.

Could opening state-owned banks across America get us out of the financial crisis?

Solidarity singers in Madison haven’t missed a day of music since the 2011 Wisconsin uprising, when the movement for workers’ rights and against crony capitalism took the state by storm.

Can peacefully exercising First Amendment rights create lasting change if police have weaponry and, apparently, legal authority to immediately and violently disperse crowds?

With stores near military bases across the country, the retailer USA Discounters offers easy credit to service members. But when those loans go bad, the company uses the local courts near its Virginia headquarters to file suits by the thousands.

Sign Up