It’s taken a number of efforts through the Freedom of Information Act to get to the information which shows what was expected, and in some cases, known at the time when the Occupy Movement, or OWS, was highly visible and active. Along with local undercover and overt law enforcement surveillance of Occupy groups across the nation, the FBI and DHS were actively involved. Add to that the knowledge at the time that mayors of at least some of the “Occupied” cities were coordinating efforts, along with, among other things, the negative spins of much of mainstream media and the short-attention span and patience of much of We the People, and the incredible challenges facing OWS are once again quite obvious.
The various Occupy groups made their share of mistakes — every advocacy group does. But one very important thing that happened, and continues, are the multiple off-shoots and re-envisioned Occupy groups that are focused on everything from debt relief to housing to food to Keystone XL.
About the latest Freedom of Information Act details, Steven Hsieh, AlterNet writes: (emphasis added throughout)
Government Waste: DHS Documents Reveal Widespread Surveillance of Occupy Movement
Federal documents reveal the Department of Homeland Security conducted daily monitoring of peaceful Occupy protests and encampments in 2011.
The memos, obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through FOIA, show that the DHS routinely observed ‘Occupy-type’ protests, including those deemed ‘peaceful’ by federal agents. In 252 pages of department exchanges, agents overwhelmingly report ‘uneventful,’ ‘peaceful’ and ‘orderly’ demonstrations.
According to PCJF’s legal director, Carl Messineo, the released documents “underwent a heavy redaction process,” and represent only a “fraction of what the government possesses.”
DHS surveillance included Occupy actions in “Asheville, NC; Tampa; Ft. Lauderdale; Jacksonville; Lansing, MI; Denver; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Boston; Dallas; Houston; Minneapolis; Miami; Jersey City; Phoenix; Lincoln, Nebraska; Chicago; Salt Lake City; Detroit and others.”
Justice Online makes the point that such DHS, and FBI, activity continues, noting that DHS,
… an agency created after the September 11 attacks under the rubric of combating terrorism, conducts daily monitoring of peaceful, lawful protests as a matter of policy.
The coordination of government efforts was obvious at the time, but the released information provides an official confirmation. From the Justice Online article:
As the federal and local governments and law enforcement agencies engaged in a concerted, coordinated crackdown to evict Occupy protests from public spaces in the last months of 2011, DHS officials shared and coordinated strategies.
The recent FOIA data from DHS was preceded by the December 2012 release of information from the FBI. From Justice Online:
FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring
FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands 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.
The information about coordinated efforts was also confirmed in the FBI release, with the explicit inclusion of “corporate security community.”
Documents released show coordination between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and corporate America. They include a report by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), described by the federal government as ‘a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,’ discussing the OWS protests at the West Coast ports … . The DSAC report shows the nature of secret collaboration between American intelligence agencies and their corporate clients – the document contains a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’
At the time of the late December release there was some coverage, including at The Guardian, “Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy”; at HuffPo, “The FBI vs. Occupy? Secret Docs Reveal ‘Counterterrorism’ Monitoring of OWS From Its Earliest Days”; and at NY Times, “F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show.”
That the government would monitor protests isn’t surprising or unusual. It’s still important, though, to pay attention to when, how and to what extent federal, state and local governments — along with the “corporate security community” — pay attention to us.