The Department of Homeland Security monitored Occupy Wall Street movement-related protests daily as a matter of policy, according to recently published government documents.
Documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request also reveaeld “coordination and intelligence monitoring by the DHS, the FBI, the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies of ‘Occupy-type’ protests.”
“In preparation for planned protests in New York City on October 15, 2011, the DHS documents show coordination between federal and local authorities to use New York City’s permitting scheme to frustrate, obstruct or stop free speech activities,” said PCJF in a post on its website.
DHS also monitored media coverage of the movement as part of its open-source intelligence collection efforts.
PCJF reported that it obtained thousands of documents pertaining to DHS surveillance of the Occupy movement. As of right now, PJCF has published 252 of those documents.
PCJF also published a separate set of documents in December 2012, obtained from the FBI, which revealed that the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and FBI closely monitored the activities of the movement in 2011.
“Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systematic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF, in a statement accompanying the release.
“The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a ‘terrorist threat’ or a ‘criminal threat,’ but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo,” she said.
OWS served as an umbrella for multiple and varied interests, which allowed for more destructive personalities to infiltrate the movement, along with more civilized and non-violent personalities.
Fearing that more aggressive acts of civil disobedience were drawing attention away from the movement’s efforts to expose corporate influence in politics, protesters adopted a stance of being “peaceful protesters” in an attempt to deescalate tensions with businesses and law enforcement as the movement evolved over the course of 2012.
During the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions in Tampa and Charlotte, DHS units were also noticeably stationed near the festivities, augmenting local law enforcement capabilities.
DHS surveillance of the protests also took place in other cities across the country, including: Boston, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and many others.
“The documents are heavily redacted and represent, we believe, a fraction of what the government possesses,” said Carl Messineo, legal director of the PCJF, in a statement.
“But these documents show that federal and local law enforcement agencies, in concert with the biggest banks on Wall Street and elsewhere in the country, conducted a massive spying program and a large-scale disruption operation against the Occupy movement,” he said.