by Dave Lindorff   Published: Sunday 20 November 2011    Nation of Change

“The National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice today filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).”

Article image

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.”

You may subscribe to WAMMToday from this blog website.  WAMMToday is now on Facebook!   Check the WAMMToday page for posts from this blog and more! “Like” our page today.

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 co­or­di­nated as­sault by riot-gear-clad po­lice look­ing more like Im­pe­r­ial Storm Troop­ers than cops in cities across the na­tion shows how the po­lice are be­com­ing more of a na­tional para­mil­i­tary force, cu­ri­ously akin to the widely de­spised and feared Armed Po­lice or Wu Jing who han­dle the heavy riot-con­trol and re­pres­sion duty in China. Equipped with fed­er­ally-sup­plied body armor and weapons like stun grenades, sound canons and of course as­sault ri­fles, do­mes­tic US po­lice forces re­spond­ing to even gar­den va­ri­ety 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 and are using weapons that they them­selves were not even per­mit­ted to use in deal­ing with civil 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.


One Comment

  1. […] Federal Government.  It’s all of a piece. That is why the National Lawyers Guild has filed a Freedom of Information request to agencies in the Federal Government, including Homeland Security, the CIA, and the FBI, in regard […]

Comments are closed.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Subscribe via email
Enter your email address to follow Rise Up Times and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,899 other followers


VIDEO: Militarism, Climate Chaos, and the Environment