DC cops caught infiltrating peaceful, lawful protest groups

Organizers of the United Students Against Sweatshops in DC had wondered about "Missy," an activist who always seemed to be on the scene, though no one seemed to know anything more about her. One thing they did know, however, was that Missy's appearances were correlated with DC cops showing up at the stores where they were planning (lawful, peaceful) protest actions, preventing them from taking place.

A couple of lucky coincidences and some online sleuthing revealed that Missy was an undercover DC police officer named Nicole Rizzi, who had inflitrated a law-abiding, peaceful group whose purpose was to pressure clothing retailers to buy from suppliers in Bangladesh that met minimum standards on pay and working conditions. The group has filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, and they've asked the judge for an injunction prohibiting the police from further infiltration and spying of their group.

Light flagged down USAS organizer Garrett Shishido Strain and alerted him to Missy’s presence. Shishido Strain knew just how “Missy” had wound up at the protest: He had met her four days earlier at a USAS protest outside of a Gap. Rizzi identified herself as “Missy Thompson,” gave Shishido Strain her email and phone number, and asked to be informed of future actions so that she could attend. On May 14, Shishido Strain emailed her about a last-minute protest at the Children’s Place in Columbia Heights the next day.

Having been alerted by Light, Shishido Strain and other activists filmed Rizzi handing out flyers at the May 15 like a normal protester. Later, Shishido Strain would spot Rizzi once more, at a June 29 protest against the Gap.

In retrospect, Shishido Strain believes that Rizzi had notified DC police about the group’s plans. “One of the steps we usually take at our protest is to deliver a letter detailing the human rights abuses in their supply chain to the store/business being protested,” says Shishido Strain. “We do not break any laws and if we are asked to leave the store after delivering the letter, we do. After ‘Missy’ began participating in our events, we were twice blocked from delivering letters by the Metropolitan Police Department, who presumably had been tipped off about the time and location of our events. This occurred at the May 15 Children’s Place demonstration and the June 29 demonstration.”

EXCLUSIVE: Activists Identify DC Cop Who Infiltrated Bangladesh Sweatshop Protests