The lawsuit brought by seven activists in 2010 challenges a sweeping surveillance and infiltration apparatus involving the Army and other divisions of the military, and local and state law enforcement. The apparatus relied largely, but not exclusively, on Army intelligence analyst John J. Towery (under the alias "John Jacob").
With much less fanfare than it received before the Democratic National Convention, the insurance policy protecting Philadelphia police from liability against a host of rights violations perpetrated against protesters was finally obtained last month by journalist Dustin Slaughter.
The $1.2 million insurance policy underwritten by Landmark American Insurance Company covered the Philadelphia Police Department for $5 million in case they were sued over excessive use of force or other rights violations.
Last week, the Municipal Archive of New York City found over one million "lost" pages—more than 520 boxes—documenting the New York Police Department's (NYPD) surveillance and infiltration of political groups during the 1960s and 70s.
Notably, the discovery comes just days after the federal court closed a rare comment period linked to a decades-old class-action lawsuit challenging the spying operations of the NYPD.
Federal Judge Charles S. Haight heard oral comments Tuesday in what was referred to as a “Fairness Hearing.” The hearing, which was open to any New York City resident or organization concerned about NYPD spying, stemmed from two class-action lawsuits, Raza v. City of New York and Handschu v. Special Services Division.
Wednesday, the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) allegedly unveiled its Republican convention security "plans" to the city's Safety Committee, but it left the public with a lot more questions than it answered.
In addition to "increased greater-than-normal protection in the neighborhoods" (which could be awkwardly read as heavier-than-normal patrolling of Black neighborhoods) and 12-hour work days for police officers, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba told NBC affiliate WKYC that, "We're not purchasing nerve gas" and "We're not purchasing tanks."
There’s little dispute today that we live in a National Security State. Unlawful police surveillance and infiltration of religious and political groups has become so common that it barely evokes outrage. Perhaps the most notorious perpetrators of unwarranted spying on Americans is the New York Police Department (NYPD), which continues to establish questionable counter-terrorism and counterintelligence units to spy on New Yorkers despite being repeatedly sued over it.
However, there’s a rare opportunity this month and next to voice opposition to NYPD spying practices. U.S. District Court Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. recently issued a Notice of Fairness Hearing for which the federal court is seeking comment from the public.
Politically motivated surveillance is a prominent feature of today’s National Security State and is part of a playbook of tactics aggressively used by police against Muslims, dissidents, social change movements, and other targeted groups and individuals. Less known, but no less offensive or threatening is the government’s ongoing attacks against the sanctity of attorney-client privilege.
Efforts by government to monitor communications between attorneys and their clients – a violation of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – is unfortunately nothing new. State-sanctioned surveillance of lawyers and legal groups like the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has been going on for decades. And, recent disclosures by The Intercept of meta-data and recorded communication between prisoners and their attorneys indicate that such Constitutional violations are still being carried out today, literally as we speak.
Police infiltration of political dissidents—one indicator of society’s failure to adhere to basic democratic principles—is on the rise in the twenty-first century and shows no signs of letting up.
Infiltration of political movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street illustrates the extent to which law enforcement will go in their efforts not just to seek information, but also to aggressively disrupt political organizing.
Last week, a Cleveland.com article asked if Tampa’s approach to policing the RNC 2012 protests would “provide a blueprint for Cleveland as it prepares to host the next Republican National Convention a year from now?”
However, that may be the wrong question to ask.
Activists who take their message to the streets should be pleased with an historic settlement agreement reached last week between the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) and the federal government with national implications. After nearly 13 years of litigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior agreed to “significantly change the handling of mass protests in the United States,” according to PCJF.