Did the Feds Coordinate the Recent Occupy Crackdowns?

This isn’t confirmed by any other sources so far, but Rick Ellis at The Examiner claims to have spoken to a Homeland Security official “on background,” and received confirmation that federal agencies coordinated the recent crackdowns on Occupy groups in multiple cities.

Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

This morning RalphB linked to a post at FDL about the Mayor Quan of Oakland admitting to taking part in a conference call with officials in 18 other cities.

And here’s an AP story that confirms cooperation among local officials, but not with the feds.

Don’t set a midnight deadline to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters _ it will only give a crowd of demonstrators time to form. Don’t set ultimatums because it will encourage violent protesters to break it. Fence off the parks after an eviction so protesters can’t reoccupy it.

As concerns over safety and sanitation grew at the encampments over the last month, officials from nearly 40 cities turned to each other on conference calls, sharing what worked and what hasn’t as they grappled with the leaderless movement.

In one case, the calls became group therapy sessions.

While riot police sweeping through tent cities in Portland, Ore., Oakland, Calif. and New York City over the last several days may suggest a coordinated effort, authorities and a group that organized the calls say they were a coincidence.

“It was completely spontaneous,” said Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a national police group that organized calls on Oct. 11 and Nov. 4. Among the issues discussed: safety, traffic and the fierceness of demonstrations in each city.

“This was an attempt to get insight on what other departments were doing,” he said.

Oh sure. It was all a coincidence. These people must think we’re really stupid.

David Dayen has a post on the “disturbing silencing of the press in last night’s OWS raid.” He links to this NYT article:

As New York City police cleared the Occupy Wall Street campsite in Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning, many journalists were blocked from observing and interviewing protesters. Some called it a “media blackout” and said in interviews that they believed that the police efforts were a deliberate attempt to tamp down coverage of the operation….

As a result, much of the early video of the police operation was from the vantage point of the protesters. Videos that were live-streamed on the Web and uploaded to YouTube were picked up by television networks and broadcast on Tuesday morning.

At a news conference after the park was cleared Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the police behavior, saying that the media was kept away “to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press.”

Yeah, right.

Some members of the media said they were shoved by the police. As the police approached the park they did not distinguish between protesters and members of the press, said Lindsey Christ, a reporter for NY1, a local cable news channel. “Those 20 minutes were some of the scariest of my life,” she said.

Ms. Christ said that police officers took a New York Post reporter standing near her and “threw him in a choke-hold.”

This is from Dayen’s post:

I’ll go one better than shoves and choke holds. Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones was forcibly dragged out of the ecampment, after sneaking in to witness the proceedings. He was one of the lucky few journalists to witness the batons and pepper spray that characterized the eviction of Zuccotti Park.

Other journalists were arrested in the exercise of doing their job. And by the way, there was violence coming from the police…

Please go read the rest at the FDL link. There also a lengthy article at the WSJ speculating on what could happen if the NYPD keeps the protesters from gathering in one place and instead they spread out over the city.

Protesters have aired plans to occupy subway stations and to march on the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, and several people in contact with the movement say organizers expect them to be their biggest events yet.

Christopher Dunn, executive legal associate of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said a truce has been in place between police and protesters over the last few weeks, easing tensions that arose after a pepper-spraying incident in September. Also sparking outrage was a threat by city officials last month to clear the park, but they reversed course.

“Since then,” Mr. Dunn said, “the police had not really been a big issue with the Zuccotti Park protesters. But now they are the issue.”

He said Tuesday’s eviction “is going to make police officers’ jobs much more difficult…Whatever benevolent attitude the protesters had about the police is gone.”

Wow, so much is happening! Please share links to anything you read or hear about this.


45 Comments on “Did the Feds Coordinate the Recent Occupy Crackdowns?”

  1. Beata says:

    Excellent round-up, BB. I’m impressed that you could put this together so quickly. Maybe these revelations will put an end to the “OWS is a pro-Obama movement” meme.

    OWS is calling for an “International Day Of Action” on November 17th:

    http://occupywallst.org/action/november-17th/

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Beata. I just wanted to put some of this stuff up for people to talk about. Actually I’d be really surprised if the FBI isn’t involved in this crackdown. The Feds have been helping militarize police forces for years now.

  2. Peggy Sue says:

    As I mentioned in the last thread, BB, the protestors reoccupied the park this evening and held their general assembly before a crowd of 3-4 thousand people. They’ve called for a Spokes Council meeting tomorrow and a national march on Thursday in all Occupy cities to commemorate the 2-month anniversary.

    I watched a live feed over at Zero Hedge. It was really powerful and moving. What the 1% fail to understand is you cannot bulldoze an idea or get people to go back to sleep once awakened. The speakers using the open mic technique–where the words repeated and rippled out three times because of the crowd’s size–called on all residents, small business owners, citizens at large to come to the street on Thursday. They asked each marcher to carry a homemade sign to tell their story as simply as possible. Think of it. A thousand, five thousand, ten thousand people marching in nonviolent unity, each with a sign, each with a story, each refusing to back down.

    This has only just begun.

    • Beata says:

      See the link I posted above, Peggy Sue, to the Thursday, Nov. 17th plans for action.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        Thanks, Beata. I really wish I still lived in the area. I’d be there.

        I have to say, watching the live stream this evening? I was damn proud of these kids [I know they’re not ‘all’ kids, but the vast majority tonight were]. They’ve held fast, put up with all kinds of ridicule and insult, braved the elements, slept on concrete beds and survived rough treatment by the police and a mayor who would just like them to go away. But even against all those strong winds and against the odds, they’re still leaning forward. For everyone. For us.

        The march on Thursday will be in broad daylight. The world ‘will’ be watching. Good to read the unions will participate. I hope the action is absolutely massive. Their voice, our voice.

        Not too bad for a bunch of slackers.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree Peggy Sue. These kids are alright!

      • foxyladi14 says:

        shut it down 🙄

    • ralphb says:

      Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO has called on union members to join occupiers all over the country in their actions. Once something like this wakes people up, it’s not easy to just put them back to sleep again,

      • Beata says:

        That’s great news, Ralph. I was just talking to my brother this evening about the need for more union support in OWS. Among other things, the unions have the organizing skills this movement requires. I will be interested to see how the old factory towns in the northern part of Indiana respond – places like Elkhart and Kokomo.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yeah, I’m on their mailing list. There will be a backlash against this. The police always overreach. It will only fire more people up.

  3. ralphb says:

    Don’t know if I posted this in an earlier comment or not but some in the media are pissed now. James Downie writing in the Washington Post.

    Bloomberg’s disgraceful eviction of Occupy Wall Street

    The offered reasoning for the eviction? The same canard as the last time Bloomberg wanted to sweep away protesters: “public health and safety.” Never mind that Occupy Wall Street has continually cleaned the park itself, or that health experts who have visited the park have pronounced it sanitary, or that even Bloomberg could cite only one incident that threatened public safety in his statement about the eviction. No, such “facts” were turned away, just as the police sought to turn the media’s cameras elsewhere. All this while, as Matt Taibbi put it last week, “in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.” Nobody arrested the bankers for pushing fraudulent loans and subprime mortgage investments, or the ratings agencies and government regulators that neglected their duties and helped Wall Street crash the global economy. But putting tents in a public park? Time to bring out the batons and pepper spray.

    As hard as the NYPD and New York City’s government might try to obscure the truth though, one truth remains: At 1 a.m. this morning, in the heart of New York City, protesters exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly were swept away by the state, while that state also did all it could to prevent media coverage. No matter what one may think of the occupiers or their cause, nothing they’ve done justifies blockading the press or ignoring court orders. Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and other New York leaders who ordered the eviction should take a long, hard look at their handling of the occupation. This morning’s action may not be what a police state looks like, but it’s certainly how one begins.

    Thanks for the post BB. Great as always!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks! It never pays to get the media riled up either. Bloomberg is a fascist, and his true colors are really showing.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        Good that the media is pissed. Maybe they’ll arouse from their own ‘Great Slumber.’ This is what you get for all that ‘face time’ that became more important than actually questioning and pushing back against power. The so-called media might actually have a mini-revelation: that access isn’t all it’s cracked up to be because in the final examination? The Machine considers you dogmeat, too.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Okay, I am appalled but not shocked:

    Newt Gingrich made $1.6 to $1.8 million “not lobbying” for Freddie Mac

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-16/gingrich-said-to-be-paid-at-least-1-6-million-by-freddie-mac.html

    “What he did was provide counsel on public policy issues,” Delk said in an interview. “There was no expectation that he would do any lobbying, and he did not do any lobbying.”

    While campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Gingrich was asked about his relationship with Freddie Mac. “I did no lobbying of any kind,” he said.

    Gingrich’s second contract with Freddie Mac was a two-year retainer for which he was paid a total of $600,000, said two people familiar with the agreement.

    What he did for the money is a subject of disagreement. Gingrich said during the CNBC debate that he advised the troubled firm as a “historian.” Gingrich said he warned that the company’s business model was a “bubble” and its lending practices were “insane.”

    None of the former Freddie Mac officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Gingrich raised the issue of the housing bubble or was critical of Freddie Mac’s business model.

    tar and feathers any one?

  5. ralphb says:

    From PoliticalWire Majority Say Walker Should Be Recalled

    A new Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College poll in Wisconsin finds 58% think Gov. Scott Walker (R) should be recalled from office.

    That compares to just 47% who said in April that he should be recalled.

    Key findings: “The growth in support for a recall came, surprisingly, from Republicans. In the spring, only 7% of Republicans supported recalling Walker but that grew to 24% in the fall. Support among Democrats held mainly steady at 88% in the spring and 92% in the fall.”

    I find the key findings to be surprisingly uplifting. Would appear to suggest that a good many Republicans are rebelling against their parties policies. If that happens on a wider basis, it will be very good news for the country.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think the elites can put the genie back in the bottle now. It will be 1968 all over again, if they don’t watch out.

  6. Susan says:

    Why are the protesters trying to make life difficult for the 99%? Millionaires don’t ride the subway and very few live in Brooklyn.

    The conversation is no longer about political and economic injustice but about tents. That’s beyond sad.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Well then you haven’t been paying attention. The conversation has never been about tents. It also hasn’t been about deficits or Paris Hilton.

      Btw, life is already difficult for the 99%. Or haven’t you noticed? You stop transportation, you stop the machinery. Think of it as a big ole stick wedged in the gears.

      • Susan says:

        Peggy Sue,

        All of the conversation, now, is about tents and the police. OWS has taken it’s eye off the ball which is the corrupt political and economic systems.

        If I were wealthy, I’d be traveling in Europe, not posting on this blog. As a member of the 99%, I don’t expect to be treated disrespectfully by people who claim to be protesting on my behalf. Destroying their property or interfering with their ability to move about freely is stupid and will do nothing but annoy the people that the protesters need to achieve success.

        So, what’s your problem? Is no one allowed to criticize any part of the OWS movement without being subjected to insults?

    • Barbara says:

      One of the things that taking over the subway does is let that portion of the 99% who have not participated because they’re scared or feel helpless know that the 99% do, in fact, have power.

      I think one of the fault lines in a society where people seek to become established (“live a better life”, “be successful”), is that we want to play nice, we want to cooperate.

      In Europe, the working class have always known who they were and where they stood with the powers that be. They are used to things like general strikes, shut downs.

      In 1966, my husband and I arrived in Salonika, the major northern city in Greece, to farmers tying the city in knots by riding their tractors into the city and barricading the streets. On any given day in Greece, there are shut downs – taxis and busses one day, bank workers another.

      They never forget who they are.

      • Susan says:

        I’m a union member and I’ve participated in two strikes. Those strikes were successful because 1) we had well-thought out, achievable, defined demands 2) the demands were clearly communicated to everyone and 3) we directed out energies against the people who were in the position to immediately meet our demands.

        I don’t see how taking over a subway station meets any of those criteria. How is creating another situation where the police are going to use force, if necesssary, to regain control of the subway station going to reassure or motivate the scared or those who feel powerless. The protesters are going to lose the confrontation and some people will surely get hurt. They’re also going to lose the support of many of the people who are their natural allies, imo.

      • Susan says:

        I’m a union member and I’ve participated in two strikes. They were successful because 1) there were defined and achievable demands 2) everyone knew and understood what the demands were and 3) we directed our time and energy toward the people who had the power to make immedicate changes. I don’t see that OWS taking over a subway station meets any of those criteria.

        As for those who may be scared and feel powerless, how are they going to be reassured when the police take back the subway station and people get hurt in the process?

        I believe in peaceful protest and the power of numbers. The Washington Post cited a poll yesterday that showed that nationwide support for the OWS movement is declining. I suspect that most of the 99% are like me and just don’t want to be associated with violence.

        Pursuading people to move their money from the Big Banks to local banks and credit unions makes sense. Fighting over tents and stopping people from getting to work does not make sense.

        I’d rather be remembered as part of a movement that made a difference

  7. Woman Voter says:

    Surprise, Homeland Security Coordinates #OWS Crackdowns

    Remember when people were freaking out over the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and all this other conveniently ready-to-go post-9/11 police state stuff, because it would obviously be just a matter of time before the whole apparatus was turned against non-Muslim Americans when they started getting complain-y about the social injustice and economic injustice and income inequality and endless recession and permanent unemployment?
    http://wonkette.com/456282/surprise-homeland-security-coordinates-ows-crackdowns-nationwide

    In Portland there was an audio that was played then stopped after activists started sharing it.
    In it the police warned about using ‘Chemical Agents and Impact Weapons’ and I quickly released we had given up our Civil Liberties by the Fear Mongers Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden were just the same just under a Dem label.

  8. Alibe says:

    I think it is apparent that thhe Justice Dept and Homeland Security have CONSPIRED to thwart freedom of e press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Allthis underthe aeis of the Obama Administration!!!!!!!! There can be no doubt of the collaberation, the conspiracy,the illegal way used to undermine the US Constitution by the Obama Administration. Shocking!!!!! They didn’t just coordinate as much as it is a conspriracy to deprive the people of this country of their rights. The right to demonstrate is sacred. Shame!!!!!!

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    I agree. Let her rip! 🙂

  10. dakinikat says:

    Pregnant woman pepper sprayed at Occupy Seattle

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57325688/pregnant-woman-pepper-sprayed-at-occupy-seattle/

    A downtown march and rally in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement turned briefly chaotic as police scattered a crowd of rowdy protesters — including a pregnant 19-year-old and an 84-year-old activist — with blasts of pepper spray.

    Protest organizers denounced the use of force, saying that police indiscriminately sprayed the chemical irritant at peaceful protesters.

    The Occupy Seattle movement released a written statement late Tuesday expressing support for “a 4-foot 10-inch, 84-year-old woman, a priest and a pregnant woman who as of this writing is still in the hospital.”