Forget about the Militias. The feds are now targeting the Anarchists.
For most of the last decade, the domestic paramilitary forces of the National Security state have been battling far-right political dissidents. Especially since the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI, the BATF and numerous state and local police agencies have targeted the anti-government Patriot Movement. Law enforcement agents infiltrated militias, Christian Identity churches, anti-abortion groups and suspected terrorist cells.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a well-respected civil rights watchdog organization, coordinated law enforcement efforts broke the back of the radical right by the end of the century. "Where the FBI typically worked about 100 domestic terrorism cases at a time in the early 1990s, it was investigating close to 1,000 as the millennium came to a close," the SPLC reported recently. "Hundreds, if not thousands, were sent to jail as authorities cracked down on the far right - many in revolutionary conspiracies that included planned mass murders."
Now the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have apparently shifted their focus to left-wing political dissidents. The shift began in early Summer 1999. That was when a coalition of labor, environmental, human rights and other liberal organizations began planning a series of massive demonstrations for the World Trade Organization meeting set for late November in Seattle.
The protesters shut down the WTO meeting and fought the police in the streets of Seattle. The size and fury of the demonstrations seemed to catch the authorities by surprise. But, as the Seattle Weekly reported on December 2, law enforcement officials had been spying on the activists for months before the demonstrations. According to the Weekly, "Sources say ... that police and 30 other local, state, and federal agencies have been aggressively gathering intelligence on violent and nonviolent protest groups since early summer (FBI agents even paid personal visits to some activists' homes to inquire about their plans). In past weeks, undercover officers have tailed several groups as they moved about the city in cars and vans, and were doing so after the WTO meetings began."
The Weekly also discovered that members of the Pentagon's top secret Delta Force were deployed in Seattle during the demonstrations. This is the same unit which was secretly sent to the Waco stand-off. As the paper reported in its December 23 issue, the elite troops set up a command headquarters in a downtown hotel and operated undercover dressed as protesters. "Some Deltas wore lapel cameras, continuously transmitting pictures of rioters and other demonstrators to a master video unit in the motel command center, which could be used by law enforcement agencies to identify and track suspects," the paper reported. "'These guys are the Army hot shots, the cowboys,' says [a] former Ranger who shared a few beers with the unit in Seattle."
Hundreds of protesters occupied an abandoned office building in downtown Seattle during the protests. Numerous press reports quoted police as saying the squatters were being monitored by infiltrators.
Four months after the protests, the Seattle Police Department called for the repeal of a city ordinance prohibiting political spying. The ordinance, passed in the wake of the Watergate Scandal, prohibits the police from gathering any information on anyone solely because of their political or religious beliefs. "The SPD Criminal Intelligence Section contributed little hard intelligence because of our inability to investigate any of the individuals or groups that ultimately did the most damage," the report said.
But by then the government had already increased its spying on the anti-globalization movement which crystallized in Seattle. Many of the same groups were planning to protest meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in mid-April in Washington DC. Operating under the umbrella organization Mobilization for Global Justice, they scheduled mass demonstrations for April 16, 17 and 18. But as these activists began planning their demonstrations, they were targeted by federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The activists found their meetings infiltrated, their public gatherings disrupted, their phones tapped, and police posted outside their homes and offices.
On April 7, veteran political commentator Sam Smith reported that police were visiting activists all over Washington DC. Writing in his Progressive Review newsletter (www.provrev.com), Smith said, "While the use of informers and agents provocateurs by the police, military, and intelligence agencies is not unknown in the capital, open efforts to intimidate participants prior to an event is virtually unknown."
Smith also reported that police were watching student activists at Washington's America University, which was scheduled to hold a series of public forums on the IMF and World Bank in the days leading up to the mass protests. As Smith discovered, university officials were cracking down on the activists at the urging of the police. Here's what UA one student said: "To our wonderful surprise we found out the metro police have been tapping our phones and emails and have been sending spies to our meetings. They found out about two students leafleting against Marriott and sent 30 plain-clothed policemen to spy."
And Smith also discovered that the police were checking up on area high schools. He found that school authorities in suburban Montgomery County were circulated a flyer urging people to be on the look out for mobilization materials in the schools, and to report them to the school safety office. The memo, from the schools' Department of School Safety reads as follows:
"This office has received the following information from the Montgomery County Department of Police, Special Investigations Divisions. Detective Thomas Cauffiel asked Mr. Douglas Steel, field security coordinator, to notify school based staff to be observant for any material referring to the upcoming International Monetary Fund rallies which are scheduled for April 9-17, 2000 in Washington, DC Police are concerned that a group named "Mobilization for Global Justice" might attempt to recruit high school students to join in a planned rally. The police reported the following: "Splinter groups, possibly associated with this group, took part in the recent demonstration in Seattle that turned violent." If you see any materials on your campus which refer to these rallies, please contact the Department of School Safety and Security at 301/279-3066."
Some of the best reporting on the police harassment was done by Jason Vest, a former Business Week editor and Village Voice reporter who now works for the SpeakOut.com website. Among other things, Vest discovered that activists at George Washington University were under surveillance. "We know they're reading our emails, and I'm fairly convinced my phone is tapped too," GW student Dan Calamuci told Vest over a phone line replete with loud, regular clicking noises. "Last week, we did a speakout - just seven of us with a bullhorn - at the corner of 21st and H. Within a few minutes, five cops showed up, three of whom were undercover, or trying to be - talking into cell phones saying, "We have three guys and four girls on the corner and this is what they're saying.'"
Vest also reported that the authorities were harassing people providing housing to the demonstrators gathering in Washington. "Last Tuesday [April 11], Bettie Hoover, the head of the DC chapter of the American Friends Service Committee and a veteran social justice activist, was surprised to learn that two Howard Country police detectives were casing her Maryland farm," Vest wrote. "'One of my family found these detectives walking around my property,' says Hoover, who had listed her farm on the a16 [April 16] organizing Web site as a camping haven for protesters. 'I said, "Excuse me, who told you to come by," but they never really did tell me. But they did threaten me with zoning violations if I let people camp. 'This guy didn't know diddly - he didn't know what the regulations were and I did - and I said to him, "I don't appreciate this harassment." He said, "Oh, no, ma'am, we're not harassing you, we're just here to help.""
Vest also discovered the city tried to shut down a homeless shelter when protesters were staying."In all the years he's run the homeless shelter at 11th and M streets in Northwest Washington, Harold Moss has never had the fire marshal show up demanding to inspect the premises," Vest wrote. "Never, that is, until last week. Moss opened his doors to the Midnight Special Legal Collective, a handful of progressive activist lawyers from Seattle in town for the massive protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Suddenly, the fire marshal was interested in going over the place with a fine-tooth comb. 'I couldn't prove it one way or another, but in all probability, he showed up because of [the protesters] being here,' said Moss, who has managed to stave off the inspector inspection."
Even the establishment media reported the government was harassing activists in the days leading up to the mass protest. "Some protesters think they are being watched. They are correct." the Washington Post reported on April 1O.
Executive Assistant Washington Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer confirmed the police were infiltrating the protest groups. "If it's an open meeting and it says, 'Come on over,' then anybody's welcome," Gainer told the paper.
And the Post printed this account of an encounter between police and activist. After Detective Neil Trugman of the intelligence unit got word that an organizer named Adam Eidinger was planning to lead six crews to hang protest posters around town, he and his partner stopped by for a talk. "Eidinger said the detectives identified themselves and said he didn't have to speak to them," the paper reported. "Eidinger agreed anyway, and they talked on the stoop. The detectives, Eidinger recalled, said they hoped there wouldn't be any violence, and Eidinger said he hoped so, too. Then the detectives warned him against hanging posters, saying protesters could be arrested. 'I felt intimidated,' Eidinger said."
A few days later, on April 13, USA Today reported government agents were going undercover online to thwart the protesters. "[T]hey have been monitoring 73 internet sites where the groups have been exchanging messages to learn more about their plans. Sometimes, officers have even gone online posing as protesters," the paper said.
According to USA Today, law enforcement agents were physically following suspected anarchists throughout the capitol city. "They have been monitoring the movements of nearly two dozen self-proclaimed anarchists who have arrived in Washington,"the paper reported, adding that police had been reviewing "dozens of videotapes" from the Seattle protests, identifying suspected leaders and plotting riot-control strategies.
What did the law enforcement agencies learn? That's a secret - but they reacted like it was a prophesy for the end of the world. Police agencies all around the Washington area were mobilized. All 3,500 DC police officers were put on alert, along with unknown number of law enforcement agents from 12 federal and state agencies, including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The authorities spent over $1 million on new body armor and bullet-proof shields. They set up three mass detention centers where arrested protesters would be taken. They removed 69 mailboxes where bombs could be hidden.
"They ain't burning our city like they did in Seattle," Police Chief Charles Ramsey told USA Today. "I'm not going to let it happen. I guarantee it."
The authorities started cracking down on the activists the weekend before the IMF/World Bank meetings were scheduled to begin. On April 9, administrators at American University abruptly cancelled the town hall meeting on globalization set for Wednesday. As Vest reported, "Carrie Ferrence, an AU student activist, says she asked David Taylor, chief of staff to AU's president, for the rationale behind the cancellation. According to Ferrence, Taylor replied that Washington's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) told him that 'they had information from both on and off campus sources that this event would be targeted for some kind of disruption,' but that 'they said they wouldn't provide any security for the event.'"
On April 13, three days before the protests were scheduled to begin, seven activists driving to a planning meeting were pulled over by the police. According to a Washington Post account of the incident, the Secret Service frisked one passenger, showing him a photo that had been taken of him earlier.
The activists were charged with possession of the implements of a crime. The National Lawyers Guild protested the arrests. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, NLG President Karen Jo Koonan said the "implements of a crime" were materials and tools for building signs and banners. According to the Post, the police seized 256 PCV pipes, 45 smaller pipes, 2 rolls of chicken wire, 50 rolls of duct tape, gas masks, bolt cutters, chains, an electrical saw, and lock boxes. "These activists construct signs, puppets, sound stages, and other tools for expressing their political views," Koonan wrote. "They were in fact arrested for possession of implements of First Amendment activity. We have been told by an MPD officer that the FBI directed them to make this arrest."
Koonan also complained that the authorities had turned Washington DC into an armed camp: "The Foggy Bottom neighborhood resembles an occupied city. Streets are closed, and public sidewalks are open only to people with acceptable identification. An officer with a video camera sands on the roof of the PEPCO building at all times, and other officers wander the area taking still photographs and video of people in the area, even if they are not attempting to enter the restricted zone. Anyone wearing buttons or carrying signs is given especially close scrutiny. The result is a chill on the expression of political views."
Said Denis Moynihan of the Mobilization for Global Justice, "Despite assurances to the contrary, we are beginning to see an escalation of police tactics similar to the gross violations witnessed in Seattle."
A short time later, Vest reported a follow-up to his original stories. "Since then, a number of other activists and organizers (as well as a few journalists) have also been subjected to measures ranging from surveillance, implicit threats and bureaucratic intransigence apparently designed to marginalize the effectiveness of their mission," he wrote. "What makes the situation all the more maddening is that such actions are apparently being taken based on the ridiculous view that every protester or activist is an anarchist time bomb waiting to go off - a view apparently buttressed by unspecified police 'intelligence' that may or may not be true."
On the morning of April 15, law enforcement authorities unexpectedly raided a warehouse that served as the demonstrators' headquarters. According to eyewitness accounts, the agencies involved in the raid included the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and the Washington Fire Department. Claiming the warehouse violated fire codes, the authorities threw all the activists out and closed the building. Police claimed they found a Molotov cocktail in the building, a charge denied by the activists. "They found a plastic bottle that had rags in it that were being used to get paint off of people's hands," organizer Eidinger said.
A short time later, the Troy Skeels of the Independent media Center reported that the authorities were preventing them from printing and distribution their publications. "As we are attempting to go to press with the 'Blind Spot,' IMC's print publication due to hit the streets tomorrow, we are confronting a serious technical difficulty: Citing 'riot activity' the Kinkos print shops in the area are either closed already or thinking about it." Skeels wrote. "I learned about this turn of events this afternoon as I and some people I was trading literature with were asked to leave a Kinkos near the White House. The employee at the Kinkos we were at was polite as he asked us to leave, but explained that our presence was putting his shop in danger of being closed. Continuing our discussion on the sidewalk, I learned that other Kinkos had already been closed at police direction."
Continued Skeet, "Philip, from Oberlin College, Ohio, sporting a box of freshly printed pamphlets told me that he had left one Kinkos (24th and K street) that closed after police came in and harassed people printing up pro-demonstration, or simply anti-IMF literature. There was of course, no riot activity in sight. At least three Kinkos have already closed. It remains unclear how long the other popular '24 hour' printing outlets will remain open."
Reviewing the events unfolding in the Capitol, Smith wrote, "Illegal sweep arrests. Print shops intimidated into closing by police. Universities canceling public forums under pressure from officials. Homes of opposition leader' broken into and ransacked. Headquarters of the opposition raided and closed by police. These were the sort of things by which we defined the evil of the old Soviet Union. These were some of the reasons we said we had to bomb Yugoslavia. And now they have become characteristics of the federal government's handling of the current protests.
By the morning of Saturday the 16th, the police had blocked off 50 blocks around the headquarters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The first mass arrests happened that afternoon when thousands of protesters marched toward the headquarters of the two financial institutions. The police blocked their way, then isolated and arrested approximately 635 activists - far more than the 525 protesters arrested during a full week of demonstrations in Seattle - declaring their march illegal.
The authorities quickly revealed that they were obsessed with identifying the protesters. As the Associated Press reported, those who provided identification were fined $50. Those who didn't were fined $300. Of course, all of the names provided to the police were quickly entered into the vast web of computer databases used by law enforcement organizations across the country.
Demonstrators clashed with police all Sunday. The activists were not able to prevent the international finance ministers from meeting, but the protests were still the most direct challenge to global capitalism ever seen. Even the police admitted the activists had gotten their message out. "The media is here, and that's how I gauge success," a uniformed captain told the NBC Evening News.
By Monday it was apparent that these global financial institutions are more important than the U.S. government itself. Because of the protests, most downtown federal workers were given the day off. At the recommendation of federal and local law enforcement officials, nonessential workers at the State, Treasury, Commerce and Interior departments, and other key agencies in the area around the World Bank/IMF headquarters, were told to stay home. "This is obviously a decision that we don't take lightly. It's very unusual and very rare," a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management said.
As a result, the anti-globalization protesters forced a partial shut-down of the federal government - something the Patriot Movement has not achieved after nearly a decade of bombings, shoot-outs, armed confrontations and rallies.
Organizers declared victory even before the protests ended. "A few days ago most Americans didn't know the first thing about the World Bank or the IMF," Patrick Rensborough, a spokesman for Mobilization for Global Justice, told the New York Times on Sunday. "These institutions can't survive public scrutiny. This is the first step toward shutting them down."
Beca Economopoulos of Mobilization for Global Justice agreed. "In Seattle on November 29th, nobody had heard of the World Trade Organization and the impact that it had on the degradation of the environment and people's lives on the planet," she told reporters early Monday. Now folks can tell you about the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, its violations of human rights, its degradation of the environment and lowering of labor standards."
Even the IMF released a communique which acknowledged the protesters had made its policies a matter "of growing public debate." As the ABC Evening News reported on Monday, "The demonstrators outside the building did their best to be heard. The delegates inside the building said they got the message."
The day after the demonstrations ended, organizers announced plans to keep their growing movement alive by staging large protests at this summer's Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. The Republican convention, set to run from July 31 to August 3 in Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, could draw the largest protests since 50,000 demonstrators shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. The Democratic convention is scheduled for August in Los Angeles. Police officials from both cities were in Washington DC to watch the IMF/World Bank demonstration - and to gather intelligence on the organizers and their followers.
"Unlike the Seattle and IMF protests, which dealt mainly with world trade issues, the Republican and Democratic conventions are expected to draw activists on a range of issues involving women, gays, minorities, and health care access," the Reuters news agency reported on April 18. "Both cities are likely to see disruptive civil disobedience protests, especially Philadelphia where convention organizers have given the Republican National Committee first call on most areas big enough to stage protests, including areas around the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
"'One of the things we're trying to do is create a progressive, unified movement coming out of the election cycle that will be able to work on a lot of things,' said Mike Morrill, who heads the Unity 2000 coalition of more than 100 activist organizations. 'As more groups come on board, it's going to be something significantly different.'"
And that's why the anti-globalization activists are the new Public Enemy Number One.
Kirby The Konspiracy Boy Says, "I NEED 2 KONFORM!!!"