FBI OWS documents released thanks to an FOIA
FBI Investigated 'Occupy' As Possible 'Terrorism' Threat
According to internal documents newly released by the FBI, the agency spearheaded a nationwide law enforcement effort to investigate and monitor the Occupy Wall Street movement. In certain documents, divisions of the FBI refer to the Occupy Wall Street protests as a "criminal activity" or even "domestic terrorism."
The internal papers were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice fund via a Freedom of Information Act Request. The fund, a legal nonprofit that focuses on civil rights, says it believes the 112 pages of documents, available for public viewing on its website, are only "the tip of the iceberg."
"This production ... is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement," wrote Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the fund's executive director, in a press release Saturday.
According to the documents, the FBI coordinated extensively with private companies, including banks, that feared they could be affected by Occupy protests. Occupy, which took root in New York City's Zuccotti Park in September 2011 and spread to cities across the country, targeted corporations and other forces it believed to perpetuate social inequality. The FBI's investigation included the movement's manifestations in New York; Milwaukee; Indianapolis; Anchorage, Alaska; Jacksonville, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; and Memphis, Tenn., among others.
The FBI did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post's requests for comment Sunday.
In September, the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union obtained documents that detailed the FBI's surveillance of the Occupy movement in that region. At the time, the FBI told the San Francisco Chronicle that its investigations were being performed in a way that "respects liberty and privacy and avoids unnecessary intrusions into the lives of law-abiding people."
According to the new documents, the FBI began meeting with representatives of the New York Stock Exchange and other businesses as early as August 2011, a month before the Zuccotti Park protests.
In Jackson, Miss., the local FBI office attended a meeting with private banks and the police to discuss a "National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day" protest in December 2011.
The documents are heavily redacted, a point that the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund considers to be evidence of the FBI's attempt to withhold relevant information. The fund is filing an appeal to obtain further details of the FBI's investigation, according to the release.
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 PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that 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.
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.
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