Update: I missed this NYT front-section story on the PCJF's document trove, published on Christmas Eve. The tl;dr: The FBI used counterterrorism agents to investigate Occupy Wall Street, "including its communications and planning," according to newly disclosed (and highly redacted) agency records. It's the best analysis I've seen, and mea culpa for having not seen it before this post was published.
Violent crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street in cities around the US may have been coordinated between local law enforcement, the federal government, and banks, even before protests began, according to a trove of documents requested by The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the PCJF, the 112 pages of documents show the government communicated throughout the crackdown effort with financial institutions through the Domestic Security Alliance Council, an entity created by the FBI in 2005 that "enhances communications and promotes the timely and bidirectional effective exchange of information keeping the nation's critical infrastructure safe, secure and resilient."
The documents add to an increasing pile of evidence that the government treated OWS as a kind of domestic terrorist threat, and engaged in widespread surveillance and counter-intelligence gathering in an attempt to quell the popular movement.
According to the PCJF's analysis of the documents, they reveal "that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did 'not condone the use of violence' at occupy protests."
"FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country."
Arrested. Twittering from police van— mollycrabapple (@mollycrabapple) September 17, 2012
Earlier today, artist Molly Crabapple was one of a number of people arrested at events marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. By various estimates, more than a hundred people have been arrested there today. Crabapple tweeted from the police van. Over the past year, she has produced a wide array of work related to #OWS, including portraits, street-art templates, and illustrations for coverage in The Nation and other publications.
UPDATE, 4pm PT: Reports from Chicago of police attacking protesters and journalists, chemical weapons being readied for use, and possibile imminent "weaponized" use of LRAD.
NATO protests in Chicago: Police van drives into protesters, web video reporters detained, held at gunpoint (photos+video)
"Occupy" movement participants and an array of protest groups are among those gathering in Chicago this wekeend to demonstrate outside the NATO summit. Sunday, protesters are ramping up for the largest demonstration of the weekend. So are police and Homeland Security agents. Today, thousands of demonstrators are marching to the convention center where President Obama and other world leaders are meeting. Four men have been arrested on terror charges. Lawyers for the men now referred to by some protesters as the "NATO 4" claim undercover agents set up a bomb plot, and entrapped the suspects.
Saturday night, at about 10:40PM local time, a Chicago Police van "drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River," according to this video report and testimony from people who were present.
Read the rest
Josh Stearns, a reporter who has covered the Occupy movement extensively, asks, "Why is this children's book teaching my kid about SWAT vehicles and Riot Control practices?" From his blog post:
Visiting the local library yesterday my son picked out a book all about police. I was stunned when, after pages and pages of info about police cars and police offices, there were these two pages about Riot Control Trucks and SWAT Vans.
Even after months of tracking conflicts between police and the press I still have a profound respect for much of law enforcement and the jobs they do in our communities. However, the descriptions of water cannons being turned on protesters and the taunting opening on the SWAT page, “Someone’s causing a lot of trouble…,” all seemed out of place. Given the increasingly militarized response we have seen to citizen protests, seeing Riot and SWAT teams portrayed this way in a children’s book was troubling.
German riot police carry a demonstrator fully covered in paint as police clears the camp of occupy protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, May 16, 2012.
I'm digging the look of this Occupy Wall Street khaki street jacket by EGOLOGICS on Etsy. (thanks, foslforever)
A large crowd of protesters, between 2,000 and 5,000 by various estimates, are marching through the streets of New York right now to draw attention to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The Florida teen was shot to death last month, in a case that has generated widespread outrage online.
Tim Pool has been running a live video stream of the march.
Here's a quick link to the relevant Twitter hashtag (#millionhoodiemarch), to follow tweets from people who are there. Seems like a lot of youth are present at this one, perhaps more so than at recent Occupy marches in New York. People are wearing hoodies, carrying bottles of iced tea and throwing Skittles in the air: Trayvon was wearing one, and holding that candy and beverage when he was shot. So far, police presence is high, but interactions are peaceful, and the crowd is doing its thing without much NYPD aggression. That could change before the night is through.
The parents of the slain teen are present, and addressed the crowd earlier.
Heard that a local news outlet claimed that there were dozens of people out here. There are thousands. #millionhoodies— EBONY Magazine (@EBONYMag) March 21, 2012
"[W]hat's been pretty seriously under-covered is this past weekend's amazing outburst of out-of-control NYPD tactics on Occupy Wall Street," writes Choire Sicha at the Awl, along with a roundup of links and videos illustrating just how out-of-control those NYPD tactics are.
Just one month ago, the Manhattan District Attorney's office subpoenaed the Twitter account of Occupy Wall Street participant Malcolm Harris, aka @destructuremal. Today, Jeff Rae received word of the same. He has published a copy of a notice he received from Twitter, which was accompanied by a copy of the DA's subpoena. A cover letter from the DA's office indicates that Rae was one of five total accounts subpoenaed. Who are the other four? And why?
Massive and effective street protest' was a global oxymoron until-suddenly, shockingly-starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester, once again, became a maker of history....The stakes are very different in different places. In North America and Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don't get tortured. Any day that Tunisians, Egyptians or Syrians occupy streets and squares, they know that some of them might be beaten or shot, not just pepper-sprayed or flex-cuffed. The protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are literally dying to get political systems that roughly resemble the ones that seem intolerably undemocratic to protesters in Madrid, Athens, London and New York City.
"Protester" is an interesting choice of language. "Activist," or "Occupier" if the focus is on America, would have also been apt.
The related "Runner-up" interview with Ai Weiwei is a great read, too. I was surprised not to see Julian Assange or Steve Jobs mentioned in this annual foo-fah; their lives and work certainly had an impact (though neither is a simple hero in my book). The former Apple CEO, who died this year after a long battle with cancer, isn't mentioned at all.
What do you think?
Occupy Oakland demonstrators sit on top of a trailer truck outside the Port of Oakland during the Occupy movements' attempts to shut down West Coast ports in Oakland, California on Monday, December 12, 2011. OWS activists trying to shut down West Coast ports on Monday managed to close several terminals and encountered forceful responses from police, but fell short of mounting the full-scale cargo blockade they planned. Below, an Occupy Oakland demonstrator wears a tent and an "Anonymous" mask during the action. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)