Sunday, 25 March 2007

NYP Suspend Civil Liberties

The treatment of protesters in New York during the Republican National Convention in 2004 has been well documented. What has been less well known was the length to which the NYPD were prepared to spy on individuals, however peaceful their intentions. No-one has a problem with intelligence gathering on potentially violent protesters but this went way beyond - it almost seemed to be an offense to demonstrate any anti-Bush sentiment.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.

“Activists are showing a well-organized network made up of anti-Bush sentiment; the mixing of music and political rhetoric indicates sophisticated organizing skills with a specific agenda,” said the report, dated Oct. 9, 2003. “Police departments in above listed areas have been contacted regarding this event.”

Not a report that would have raised eyebrows coming out of a 1960's East Germany perhaps but not what you would expect in the land of freedom.

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