In November 2011, shortly after the violent government crackdown on the two-month old Occupy Wall Street movement, I blogged here, “It is not surprising that OWS became intolerable to the authorities the movement refused to recognize. Such public naming of capitalism as Public Enemy Number One could not be countenanced. Beatings, tear-gassing, property destruction and thousands of arrests were inevitable, despite the protesters’ heroic non-violence.”
Last week we gained definitive proof that the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local police forces and a set of cooperating governmental and private authorities too long to list here instituted a coordinated plan of repression designed to destroy a lawful protest movement. We have the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund’s (PCJF) Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to thank for forcing the release of heavily redacted FBI documents that reveal this conspiracy. I doubt that many of my readers will be startled by this information. Perhaps it is more surprising that PCJF was able to ferret out this much of the truth so quickly.
Fewer people may realize, however, the scope of these repressive machinations. It involves something called the Domestic Security Alliance Council. This “Council” includes not only an array of federal, state and local policing authorities, but also private security organizations working for the big banks and the New York Stock Exchange. In the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF: “These documents also show these federal agencies function as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
What justifies bringing the full force of our nation’s private and public control mechanisms to bear against a legal protest movement? The documents reveal that from August 2011 onward the FBI, while acknowledging Occupy Wall Street’s commitment to non-violence, treated the movement as a “potential terrorist threat.”
It has been apparent for several years that the post-September 11th, 2001 “counter terrorism” laws ultimately would be used against domestic dissenters. In the name of combating terrorism the “National Surveillance State” has grown exponentially, police tactics have evolved into those of an occupying army, and the courts increasingly look the other way at governmental disregard for civil liberties. The transformation is close to complete. As far as the FBI and its fellows are concerned even those protesting peacefully against the powerful are potential terrorist threats and should be dealt with accordingly.
While this news is not surprising, it is alarming. At the RFC we enter 2013, as we do every year, wishing the need for our aid would abate. But alas, the forces of repression appear even more determined to preserve the rule of the 1% and squash all who engage in organized protest. The agencies involved in this massive plot don’t care about the children of those they brutalize. But we do, and we’ll keep serving their needs for as long as it takes.
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