Below is a story about the huge amounts of surveillance that going on during the Oscar Grant protests.Some might say we shouldn’t be surprised about the strong presence of FBI, Homeland Security etc at Oscar Grant protests over the past couple of years.. That’s being a bit dismissive. The word is not surprised, but we should be concerned and be asking alot of questions. We should also note all this surveillance is connected to something much larger. Is this part of the ongoing efforts to monitor any sort of political protestor. On many levels the US in terms of suppression has become like some of the very countries we often criticize and have even fought in an effort to bring Democracy and openness.
Many of us were well aware there were police informants and undercover officers who were embedding themselves in the Oscar Grant Movement. The very first rallies had folks who were riding for the police. Most folks who have long organized knew to expect that and on many levels worked hard to find various ways to counter and eventually a couple of the informants were identified and publicly outed.
However, with the Feds doing all this surveillance says something else. Why monitor protestors vs investigating the police who killed Oscar Grant?
There was no denying with the thousands who showed up at marches, rallies townhalls that police brutality had struck a chord in various communities. Black, Asian, Latino, whites.. When you have that many people come together and express outrage, one would think this should set of alarm bells and lead the Feds to ask themselves; ‘What’s going on with police in the Bay Area that so many people are out protesting’? Are there any discernible patterns of police wrong doing? ‘Is there any sort of coverup or collusion going on?’ For starters we can look at all the potentially damaging material that convicted officer Johannes Mehserle was allowed to keep covered up thanks to the police man’s bill of rights.
People seemed to forget that an unarmed man was shot in front of hundreds of people while he lay face down on a subway platform restrained. Moments before being shot he was called a ‘bitch ass nigger‘ by an officer who was later fired when it was discovered that he and his partner had lied and covered parts of the incident.. Were the Feds investigating and monitoring that? How widespread was the coverup.. We do know that there was a police agency NOBLE that investigated and concluded there was negligence on the way BART handled things and recommended sweeping changes.. Shouldn’t the FEDS have been concerned about that verses protestors?
It’s also interesting to note that the focus seemed to be concerns about property damage. Not to justify broken windows, but all of us have been to Big Game events where Cal plays Stanford and stores have been ransacked and windows busted damn near every other year.. Have the feds been investigating that?
The conduct of Judge Robert Perry who is now the subject of a recall needs to be investigated. Here’s a judge who has a long history of covering for the police. Here’s a judge that told the family during sentencing that they should be happy the Barack Obama is in office. He intimated that Obama was an indication we progressed beyond race..
Again the feds are investigating things on our behalf and with our tax dollars. Most of us would like to see those tax dollars used to investigate the reason our justice system is broken and whats it gonna take to fix it.
Police files reveal Federal interest in Oscar Grant protests, “Anarchists”
December 15, 2010 | 9:29 AM | By Ali Winston
Documents recently obtained by The Informant reveal the significant involvement of state and federal law enforcement in monitoring the various Oscar Grant protests in Oakland over the past two years.
According to internal Oakland Police Department documents about the July 8th protests that followed Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter conviction, agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, United States Secret Service, and the California Department of Justice were assigned to monitor crowd activities.
Thirty-three federal, state and local officers were assigned to video details posted in buildings surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza and throughout the crowd of several hundred demonstrators. Among them were personnel from the Secret Service, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation who took video of the protest. Some DEA and Oakland Police officers recorded the protest, while others dressed in plainclothes provided intelligence from within the crowd to OPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center at 1605 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The documents indicate FBI involvement in monitoring the Oscar Grant protests as early as January 2009. A police report included in the case file of Holly Noll, a 24-year-old activist who plead no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer, shows the FBI was providing intelligence to OPD on the movements of “black bloc” anarchists in Downtown Oakland on the night of January 14, 2009, when the latest of several protests agitating for Johannes Mehserle’s arrest erupted into property destruction and clashes with police.
Oakland Police Officer Scott Seder’s report from that night indicates specific FBI interest in “anarchists.” The report reads as follows:
“OPD [Oakland Police Department] radio announced a communications order stating the FBI advised groups of anarchists, described as MW [male, white], 17-25 years old, wearing black and red clothing, were en route to the protest and planned to commit acts of violence and vandalism adjacent to the main demonstration.”
Jose Luis Fuentes, an attorney at Siegel & Yee, the law firm that is defending those arrested in the July 8th protests, believes the involvement of state and federal agencies in intelligence-gathering is part of a larger effort to scrutinize political protest. “They’re trying to build a case against ‘black blocs’ or anarchists as domestic terrorism,” said Fuentes. “The federal government wants to know who’s protesting. They’re documenting who the agitators are — This is all COINTELPRO resurfacing.”
The Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, was an extensive federal operation that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s that monitored political activists, sometime using law enforcement to harass and discredit everyone from the National Association of Colored People to the Ku Klux Klan, who federal authorities considered dangerous.
But law enforcement personnel who worked the Oscar Grant protests say federal involvement had nothing to do with a political ideology and everything to do with keeping civilians and critical infrastructure sites safe and preventing disorder.
Oakland Police Captain David Downing, who was in charge of “Operation Verdict,” the police response to the July 8th post-verdict protests, says the handful of federal agents were nothing more than extra eyes among the several hundred law enforcement officers working on July 8th.
“Their only job was to be out there and videotape, be observers and feed information,” said Downing, who was in charge of Operation Verdict. The DEA, California DOJ and Secret Services agents were a fraction of the several hundreds of law enforcement agents from across Northern California who took part in Operation Verdict.
Much like several police departments provided officers to assist with crowd control, the state and federal agencies brought their investigative capacities to the table, as well as equipment. The FBI and DEA both offered helicopters for air support.
Documents indicate that anarchists were on everyone’s mind.
In a running police log from the July 8 protests and in emails exchanged between OPD command staff in the days prior, there is extensive mention of potential acts of property destruction and violence by “anarchists.” The log was later forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center. “They were interested in the event,” said Captain Downing.
“They’re a concern,” said Captain Downing of the Oakland Police. “They don’t really care about the cause other than using the mask of a large mob to engage in property damage.”
Defense attorney Jose Luis Fuentes remains convinced the intelligence gathered during Operation Verdict was part of a broader effort to intimidate political protest. The subtext is that, “If you’re going to protest and violate any law, we might prosecute you federally,” Fuentes said.
A November 16th primer on “Anarchist Extremism” on the FBI’s website describes the Bureau’s general policy on anarchists:
“Currently, much of the criminal activities of anarchist extremists fall under local jurisdiction, so they’re investigated by local police. If asked by police, the Bureau can assist. But we have a heavy presence at a major national or international events generating significant media coverage—that’s when the threat from anarchist extremists, as well as others who are up to no good, dramatically increases.”
According to an OPD investigative log, the FBI explored the possibility of charging some of the July Oscar Grant protesters federally.
FBI Special Agent Russell Romero contacted OPD on July 21 to set up a meeting about the July 8th incident. On July 27, Agents Russell Romero and Kari McInturf met with OPD investigators “to see if Federal charges can be brought.” Romero and McInturf obtained a list of all the July 8th arrestees and their charges from OPD. To date, no federal charges have been filed.