National Lawyers Guild Files FOIA Requests Seeking Evidence of Federal Role in Occupy Crackdown

Dave Lindorff
Published: Monday 21 November 2011
“The Guild and other observers strongly suspect that the 72 so-called Fusion Centers created buy the Homeland Security Department around the country, and the many Joint Terror Task Forces operated by the FBI in conjunction with local police in many cities, are serving as coordination points for the increasingly systematic attacks on the Occupy Movement.”
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With Congress no longer performing its sworn role of defending the US Constitution, the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice today filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and the National Parks Service to release "all their information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks."

According to a statement by the NLG, each of the FOIA requests states, "This request specifically encompasses disclosure of any documents or information pertaining to federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments."

National Lawyers Guild leaders, including Executive Director Heidi Beghosian and NLG Mass Defense Committee co-chair and PCJ Executive Director Mara Veheyden-Hilliard both told TCBH! earlier this week that the rapid-fire assaults on occupation encampments in cities from Oakland to New York and Portland, Seattle and Atlanta, all within days of each other, the similar approach taken by police, which included overwhelming force in night-time attacks, mass arrests, use of such weaponry as pepper spray, sound cannons, tear gas, clubs and in some cases "non-lethal" projectiles like bean bags and rubber bullets, the removal and even arrest of reporters and camera-persons, and the justifications offered by municipal officials, who all cited "health" and "safety" concerns, all pointed to central direction and guidance.

As we reported, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admitted publicly in an interview on a San Francisco radio program earlier this week that prior to her first order to police to clear Oscar Grant Plaza of occupiers on Oct. 25, she had participated in a "conference call" with 17 other urban mayors to discuss strategy for dealing with the movement. At the time of that call, her mayor's office legal advisor, who subsequently resigned over the harsh police tactics used against demonstrators, says Quan was, significantly, in Washington, DC.

The NLG says the Occupy Movement, which is now in over 170 cities around the U.S., "has been confronted by a nearly simultaneous effort by local governments and local police agencies to evict and break up encampments in cities and towns throughout the country."

Veheyden-Hilliard says, "The severe crackdown on the occupation movement appears to be part of a national strategy," which she said is designed to "crush the movement," an action she describes as "supremely political."

She adds, "The Occupy demonstrations are not criminal activities and police should not be treating them as such."

The police conducting these coordinated raids look more like Imperial Storm Troopers than cops in their riot gear get-ups. The attacks show how the nation's local police are becoming more of a national paramilitary force, curiously akin to the widely despised and feared Armed Police or Wu Jing who do the heavy riot-control and repression duty in China. Equipped with federally-supplied body armor and military-style weapons like stun grenades, sound canons and of course assault rifles, domestic US police forces responding to even garden variety, peaceful protest actions often look more like an occupying army than police. Meanwhile their actions have even been condemned by the Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who are increasingly coming to and supporting the occupation movement. These vets say the police are employing tactics that they themselves were not even permitted to use in dealing with unrest in occupied or war-torn lands.

The Guild and other observers strongly suspect that the 72 so-called Fusion Centers created buy the Homeland Security Department around the country, and the many Joint Terror Task Forces operated by the FBI in conjunction with local police in many cities, are serving as coordination points for the increasingly systematic attacks on the Occupy Movement.

It will be instructive to see how the Obama administration and the targeted agencies respond to the Guild's FOIA requests, and even more interesting to see what kinds of documents--if any--are forthcoming.

“We’re calling for expedited processing, because this is an urgent effort, and if we don’t get that, we can go to court over that issue,” says Verheyden-Hilliard. “Government delays in responding defeat the purpose of an open government law, with people in the streets and under attack by police now.” Normally, she says, government agencies have 20 days to respond to a FOIA request, but with an expedited request the agencies should have to respond even faster.

National Security and privacy are the only grounds for federal agencies to withhold information sought in a FOIA request, and clearly there is no national security issue involved in this protest movement, at least not in a strictly legal sense of the term. The Occupy Movement is protesting economic inequality, and the political corruption that allows the wealthiest people who run the nation's biggest banks and companies to run the country in their own interest and to run rough-shod over the broader public interest. Of course, from the perspective of the ruling elite, and from the perspective of their political lackeys in the White House and Congress, any protest movement calling for a reordering of the political system to make it more responsive to the public interest would be seen as a national security threat.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Movement is continuing to grow.

Ousted from their base in Zuccotti Park, where a New York state court judge has ruled that they can stay, but cannot sleep or bring in sleeping gear or protection from the weather, movement activists are switching to a decentralized strategy. Some 30,000 people rallied around New York City on Thursday (the two-month anniversary of the start of the Zuccotti occupation), to protest the police action two days earlier. Some hardy souls still keep Zuccotti occupied round the clock, and a General Assembly has been held there several times despite police efforts to limit access. Rallies in support of and solidarity with the New York Occupy Movement were held simultaneously in 30 other cities yesterday.

Kenny Clark, 32, dressed in military fatigues he said dated from his Army service (he was stationed in Korea) stood in Zuccotti Park in the pouring rain on Wednesday, more than a day after police had cleared away the tarps, the 5500-book library, and the free kitchen, and said, with a determined smile, "We're not going away!" A meat counter worker at A&P, where he has worked for 20 years, Clark said he and his co-workers were being asked to take a 20-percent pay cut by the firm, which is using a bankruptcy filing to try and break out of its union contracts. "We'll vote down their offer, and then we'll strike, and then they'll probably fire our asses," he laughed, "but with help from all these occupiers, we'll be marching in front of their stores and organizing a boycott like they've never seen! Nobody's going to shop there!"

Clark noted that the Occupy Movement is developing plans for a national occupation of the National Mall, the big park that runs between the Capitol and the Lincoln Monument that has been the scene of many historic rallies and occupations in decades past. A national General Assembly is being planned for April 1, which will focus on " the failure of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress to represent the views of the majority of people, the Supreme Court for allowing the Constitution to be perverted and for ignoring the rule of law and the Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists on K St for dominating the political process in favor of the 1% at the expense of the 99%."

This thing ain't over. It's just getting going.



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ABOUT Dave Lindorff

Dave Lindorff is an investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. He received a Project Censored award in 2004. Dave is also a founding member of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening! at www.thiscantbehappening.net

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28 comments on "National Lawyers Guild Files FOIA Requests Seeking Evidence of Federal Role in Occupy Crackdown"

Sara Goyer

December 03, 2011 2:58pm

I agree Margaret! Can't even imagine what would happen if guns were brought to an Occupy Wall Street Protest like they were duing the teabagger protests. These people were expressing their first amendment rights to speak out on the injustices that are occuring in our political processes. It has been a long time coming....the people are fed up and aren't taking it anymore. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

Meech Lynn

November 22, 2011 2:06pm

It still baffles me that people continue to engage in the knee-jerk response of looking to the Government. The United States government as we know it is over. This is a corporatocracy. So if there is a coordinated effort nationwide, it's not the government isn't orchestrating it. The government orchestrates nothing anymore. It's the corporatocracy. Amazing that even those actively and dedicatedly involved in the OWS still don't see what lies at the very heart of this matter.

Smallbear

November 23, 2011 7:26pm

Reply to Meech Lynn:

You stupid fool!

This is OUR country, bequeathed to us by the founding fathers. It has been our complacency and inaction that has allowed this to happen, and you want to RUN AWAY!!!! WE are the government! WE THE PEOPLE, and it's damn time we stood up and took it back from the corporatocracy. The people of the Occupy movement see VERY CLEARLY what is at the root of the problem, and they are DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, instead of whining on a blog about being powerless.

ButterflyStorms

November 22, 2011 11:10am

.

Mekhong Kurt

November 22, 2011 12:55am

BS.

ButterflyStorms

November 22, 2011 10:51am

Mekong - Yes! Another soldier proud of killing?

thidebrand

November 21, 2011 11:34pm

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was planning a march and lengthy encampment on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 1968 - like the one being contemplated now - to protest the war in Vietnam and the government's neglect of the needs of its people, especially poor people. Dr. King never got the opportunity to lead that Poor People's March because he was assassinated by our own government! (If you don't believe me, see William Pepper's book, An Act of State or The 13th Juror, the transcript of the 1999 civil trial brought by Dr. King's family against Loyd Jowers, et al, meaning various government agencies, including the FBI and Memphis Police.) Inform yourselves about the long history of our government's political police activities and crimes by reading Brian Glick's book, War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We can Do About It.I recommend that the organizers of the occupation of the National Mall invoke the name and martyrdom of Dr. King. It is time to call out the profound corruption and subversion of the US government for what it is and make clear that revolutionary change is needed to dislodge the control of our government by the 1 percenters.

ButterflyStorms

November 22, 2011 11:02am

It seems that there is near absolute corruption by the powers that be. When the police feel free to act with unnecessary violence against a mostly pacifist bunch of people there just has to e an OK from the top.

They began with some chicken-shit police picking on women with pepper spray and moved on to a roundhouse punch knocking a women out. Then we have the batons used to hurt people and some quite badly. We have a man hurt badly by an exploding tear gas canister. We have an 84 year old women pepper sprayed and we have young people sitting with entwined arms pepper sprayed with a huge cannister of spray.

We have anarchism in the police forces nation wide and they must be getting guarantees from their superiors.

We need the courts involved - but that raises the question - Can we trust the courts? Perhaps we'll have to take this criminal behaviour to the International Human rights commission.

Matthew Jacobs

November 22, 2011 1:04pm

We need the courts involved - but that raises the question - Can we trust the courts? Perhaps we'll have to take this criminal behaviour to the International Human rights commission.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
.What a world you live in. There are only two people you can trust Me and You. And I don't know about someone named butterflystorms

Gregg Mcphedrain

November 21, 2011 4:42pm

he used the OWS to cover his crappy presidency - so he's hiding...

Mekhong Kurt

November 22, 2011 1:08am

Good luck to the NLG on THIS one. President Obama, to my grave disappointment, has continued the stonewalling policies regarding the FOIA that Co-Presidents Bush and Cheney followed.

And to think idiots call Obama "socialist," when in fact he has turned out to stand somewhere right of where moderate Republicans used to stand -- in the old days, before they shifted to Atilla's modern acolytes, a group to whom even President Reagan would seem to be a flaming socialist liberal -- despite the current crop of hypocrites' constant invocation of his name.

The only thing worse than a right-wing Obama is a fascist Republican.

Mekhong Kurt

November 22, 2011 1:03am

BS. Obama has done some things he shouldn't have, and failed to do some other things he should have. But that statement isn't true -- period.

fatwillie

November 21, 2011 3:59pm

when law enforcement uses these tactics against people who are exercising their constitutional rights then law enforcement is the criminal and are also traitors. you as a private citizen have the right to not only defend yourself, but the right to drag them off to jail and they be charged with the appropriate crimes. they have taken an oath to uphold the constitution and the bill of rights, and to protect and serve the public that pays them. if they turn themselves into a paid bunch of thugs to work against the people they are no longer representing you and the rule of law ,and you have every right to protect yourself, in any manner necessary to stop the assault. the forefathers put the 2nd amendment into the bill of rights for the very thing we are witness to today, with these actions all across the land at the OWS sights. while again I may or may not agree with the OWS they have every right to exercise their first amendment rights and we should all be willing to back them even until death. may I suggest anyone that does not agree with this especially those police men who are selling out the public, and their souls, go to any national cemetery, alone, stand in the middle of all those graves of those who have sacrificed and think. may the Lord God almighty be with all of us for what is about to come.

bionicknight

November 21, 2011 2:37pm

WHERE

THE

HELLLLLLLLLLLLL....

IS

OBAMA ?!?!?!?

Gregg Mcphedrain

November 21, 2011 4:43pm

hiding cause he almost single handidly brought down america -
he's the worst of the worst - there is OBAMA THE DEVIL AND NEWT

"you LIE!!!" the now iconic words of the infamous obstructionist, i.e. republican, big mouth of the south "you lie!!!" Gee DUHHH Byah and his policies brought this nation to it's knees over his 8 year reign as the gomer king. and the tea-bagging obstructionist republican extremists has continued his legacy by blocking ALL efforts to control these out of control elitists from robbing what remains of our futures.

Matthew Jacobs

November 21, 2011 6:28pm

Gregg I have to disagree with you....I'm sure he had help

marcadrian

November 21, 2011 3:23pm

As the impulse to globalize and open markets moves forward, so does the ability to communicate between individuals, the more we interconnect, the more the world governments obscure their actions and motives, but it won't work, the world knows that the emperor wears no clothes, and we are now taking pictures of him with our little gadgets, these were designed to make us spend more money, but we got fleeced by the banksters, so now we use them to communicate with each other and to learn who the hell fleeced us and why the hell did the government cover it up.

As Marley said: You can fool the people sometime, but you can't fool all the people all the time. And now we stand for our right to know, and we stand for our right to speak, and we stand for our right to assemble, and we stand for our right to a government of the people and by the people.

The message is clear to all: The game is over. No more corporate rule, no more government corruption. We can see the emperor and he is naked.

marcadrian

November 21, 2011 3:14pm

Looking for his testicles, but he can't find them.

bionicknight

November 21, 2011 2:36pm

WHAT IS THIS?!! 1936 GERMANY?!!? OWS / 99%, FIGHT BACK !!

THE OWS / 99% “BLACK FRIDAY BOYCOTT.”

OWS and the 99% have the Power! “BUYING POWER.” It’s about time we used it. WE CAN INSTANTLY STOP THE FLOW OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Here’s how.

WE’RE NOT BUYING ON BLACK FRIDAY.

STRANGLE THE COMPANIES THAT ARE STRANGLING US!

Companies want our money, but they don’t want to help America get back on its feet?
We are being starved, now let’s starve those greedy corporations who took our money.
We want companies to hire us, politicians to vote for us, and this is how to force it.
We have an incredible mobile army of millions and millions and millions of people!
Let’s combine the power that we all have. VOTE, by NOT spending.

Stop buying as much as you can. Stop buying from ALL of the big corporations, retailers and banks; Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears, Lowe’s, Supervalu, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Georgia Pacific, RJR, Brown & Williamson, Kraft Global, Sara Lee, Tyson, BP, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobile, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Disney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, The Gap, Penny’s, Colgate, Nike, Staples, Office Depot, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Dean Foods, General Mills, eBay, etc., All of them!
Add your own companies to our list and pass it on.

Don’t use global banks. Move your money from a big bank to a neighborhood bank.
Don’t use your credit cards or ATM’s…at all.
Don’t shop any retail chain stores. Shop local, or mom and pop shops.
Don’t buy gasoline. Walk, take a bus, car pool, or ride a bike.
Don’t buy any extras like music, movies, electronics, or toys…nothing.

BUY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
STOP SPENDING OUR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

Greedy global companies will be shocked and not know what to do.
Wall Street, the oil barons, corporate fat cats, stockholders, executives, marketers, retailers, politicians, and President Obama, will be asking us, the 99%, what we want!

“WE” WILL FORCE WALL STREET AND CORPORATIONS TO HELP AMERICA!

We have already started.
V

Tsh M E Aigo

November 21, 2011 1:31pm

In the case you are wondering why there seems to exsist a level of bias in regards to how Government and all of its enities, especially Law Enforcements including the Judicial Courts, Wonder no more, there is, Knowing Why isnt very important at this point. In fact knowing why these things are happening is some what of an Abyss, which might pull one into a world where no clear meanings are available. Dont waste your time with the attempt of understanding why in its fullest sense, it took centuries for these events to manifestate into the melt down that you are witnessing. What one can do is to understand these few perceptions and base their individual plans around them. The first is there is a problem and that problem isnt going to go away by itself.
Second is that if your looking for fairness dont.
Third, is as you always have suspected that Government in nearly all of its forms in a free enterprise systems doesnt work very well, its best to except that quickly.
And Fourth, People or groups of people that are in a position of power will not readily conseed this power no matter how much evidence exsists as to their inability to wield this power equally.
In fact when it is become obvious that the person or persons in power are incapable of excersising this power fairly.Whether that be by intentional manipulation or by inept and careless leadership that has no real abilities. The consideration is to hide both of these and continue in a manner that reflects that person or persons of being of sound charactor and is working in a manner that represents all individuals. In other words they are lieing their ass off to you no matter which way they tell it.
What is really going on here is that we are soon to be at war. War as in civil War unless you really wish to pick up the tab for trillions of dollars pissed away on every whim and dictate the Energy Corporation have demanded of your Government Which you ,Thats right, You and your childrens children will pay for.

tgs10

November 21, 2011 12:33pm

Recently the sheriff of Lee County, FL wrote an opinion complaining about a free speech ruling in favor of the Occupy movement. The biggest complaint in his article was about “trampled grass”. What the sheriff and those who gave him his orders might not understand is that the “trampled grass” is what is known as collateral damage in an attempt to be heard, and that the judge, like it or not, had no other choice. What wasn’t mentioned were the reasons for the state of the grass and what the occupiers were trying to say. So in the spirit of playing the Devils Advocate, let us see why the grass has suffered.

Maybe you live in a gerrymandered congressional district and your vote doesn't count; or you or someone you know has a home that's "under water" (corporate malfeasance); if you are forced to insure your home for 3 to 5 times it's market value, and have a percentage deductible that won't pay for a roof (isn't that what wind and hale is supposed to do?)(Mandatory almost useless insurance); if you’ve seen your 401k shrink to the point where your retirement is questionable; if you know someone who has been killed or injured in un-funded wars of choice; if you've been denied health insurance or had it canceled or been denied a claim or just can't afford it; if your credit score has been hurt by false entries and it takes you months to correct it; if you don't like living in a plutocracy where 0.1% of the population receive half the capital gains, where (in 2007) the top 1% controlled 42.7% of American wealth and the next 19% controlled 50.3%, leaving 7.0% for the bottom 80% of the population (which doesn’t bode well for a strong middle class), and the 1% controls the government and they govern for themselves (see useless insurance and gerrymandering above); if you have gotten sick from food poisoning or contaminated water (for the sake of shareholder dividends); or you’ve been sprayed in the face with pepper spray while sitting peacefully, or hit on the head with a baton or tear gas canister; if you are disgusted with the “super committee's” pathetic failure; if you’ve lost a job or know someone who has...then...you might understand the occupy movement. These are grievances that government (the 1%) has allowed or caused, and that the grass has suffered for. If our wise politicians would get the message, then trampled grass is a small price to pay. AND...if there is a concerted effort to suppress the movement, that's another reason for the OWS.

suegie

November 21, 2011 4:33pm

It just boggles my mind how these politicians cannot do simple math. They think they are part of the 1%...when they are really just pawns. Remember in 2008 when John McCain was asked what he considered "rich" and he said "people with more than $500,000,000." How many of those politicians have that much money. Sure, they have millions, but five HUNDRED million? I don't know. And if they don't, then the 1% (billionaires) don't care about them, other than to have them do their bidding and get laws passed so they can gain more. Like Herman Cain is a Koch (not pronounced Coke) "brother from another mother"!! yeah, right. Did you ever see Trading Places???? The 1% are laughing at him... and HE thinks he's one of them. We need to support the 99% because we are them. And the politicians who don't support us need to be replaced ASAP.

suegie

November 21, 2011 4:20pm

RIGHT ON!!!

Margaret Boardman

November 21, 2011 10:27am

They brought assault rifles to anti-Obama rallies and presidential speeches, YES the teabaggers, and yet no police action. Imagine if this happened in an Occupy protest, no doubt there would be an overwhelming assault on the protestors. I know who is behind this, bad mouthing the hell out of US citizens donning their right to peacefully protest, the Party of NO, The party that could care less about the American people if they are not very, very rich. They should be arrested right out of their seats in the Whitehouse and tried for treason against the people and Govt of the US.

Mekhong Kurt

November 22, 2011 1:01am

The Tea Party adherents who insisted on carrying guns to various rallies will live to rue the day they insisted on everyone's Second Amendment right to go armed -- anywhere, anyplace, and anytime.

Before some NRA or Tea Party nut barges in on the attack, I fully support the right of citizens to own certain kinds of firearms. Registered ones, with gun permits -- and thorough background checks FIRST. And that includes at gun shows, now a yawning loophole.

The Constitution does NOT call for a always-gun-toting citizenry, and I don't give a flying hoot how nutcases try to spin it.

Fascism on the march. Thanks one helluva lot, Tea Party and NRA.

Heidi Noperi

November 21, 2011 1:07pm

I totally agree with Margaret Boardman. WHY is this group - which is peacefully demonstrating - being assaulted by the police? The very people they are fighting for? The difference is that Teabaggers with their assault rifles, spitting on black people, are protected by the Republican party and the 1%. The OWS needs to be protected by the Democratic party and all of us 99ers. We can't just take this laying down. Where is the ACLU? Where are the lawyers??

the democratic party is not really interested in the 99%