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Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Undercover Officers Spying on Grassroots Santa Cruz New Year's Parade Meetings
Santa Cruz, CA, December 31st, 2005: As the nation reels from fresh revelations about domestic spying, local law enforcement agencies are caught infiltrating local groups. Undercover officers from the Santa Cruz Police Department have been spying on peaceful parade organizers since September of this year. Two plainclothes officers attended small organizing meetings held in private homes, giving false names, phone numbers, and email addresses to hide their identity while they monitored meetings and profiled organizers.

The officers participated in meetings, asked questions and even made suggestions. "In no way did they indicate that they were police. They came off as just a couple of local surfer dudes," said Rico Thunder, one of the people who came together to help plan the parade.

Organizers had their suspicions confirmed by a concerned source within the police department.

Parade organizers arranged to surreptitiously photograph the undercover officers at a planning meeting. Santa Cruz Indymedia photographers used long telephoto lens to obtain counter-surveillance photos of the officers.

The infiltrated group was organizing the Last Night Santa Cruz Parade and Celebration, a people’s parade, a do-it-yourself celebration that goes beyond the city-sponsored First Night event, canceled this year due to money problems. The Last Night website (lastnightdiy.org) states: “Last Night is a completely organic event, organized and put on at a grassroots-level. No city-sponsorship. No corporate donors. It’s a do-it-yourself parade and celebration. We make it happen together.?

“Apparently, lack of city-sponsorship makes some people nervous,? said Thunder. “We chose to go the no-permit route because city regulations impose an impossible barrier to creating a spontaneous event.? The city requires a one million dollar insurance bond be posted, as well as special consideration for extra police, fire, security, and sanitation for any special event. “That may be fine for the Pepsi Fun Run, or the Coors Surf Competition, but that is way beyond the means of anyone wanting to do a grassroots event,? said Thunder.

"If you think you have to be doing something wrong to be the target of police surveillance, you are naive," said Thunder. "All we are doing is organizing an event for the entire community."

"Since 9/11, we've created a culture in which security is more important than liberty." said Thunder. "The NSA is tapping your phone calls and email. The Pentagon is infiltrating your peace march. Actions at the federal level have a trickle down effect that has emboldened local law enforcement. When the president says 'Safety at any cost,' local cops take that to heart."

The group has contacted the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild about possible violations of their constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and assembly. Additionally, the group may challenge barriers to free speech such as the arduous special event process.
 
 


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Counter-surveillance Photos

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undercover-1a-750.jpg
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undercover-2a-750.jpg
"Parade organizers arranged to surreptitiously photograph the undercover officers at a planning meeting. Santa Cruz Indymedia photographers used long telephoto lens to obtain counter-surveillance photos of the officers"
 

Sentinel: Undercover officers rile New Year's Eve parade planners

"If it's a public meeting about a public event on a public thoroughfare, we'll be there." -Lt. Rudy Escalanate
SANTA CRUZ — Planners of a downtown New Year's Eve parade say two undercover Santa Cruz police officers "infiltrated" public planning meetings for the grass-roots event.

On Friday, Santa Cruz police Lt. Rudy Escalanate admitted that the plainclothes officers attended the meetings, but he had a much different take on their attendance.

Santa Cruz canceled First Night celebrations this year, but the alternative "Last Night Santa Cruz DIY Parade" was created to take its place. It begins at 6 p.m. today at Laurel Street and Pacific Avenue.

In planning meetings in a Santa Cruz home, which were announced on the group's Web site lastnightdiy.org, two men attended three meetings and did not let on they were police officers, giving false names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, said Wes Modes of Felton, an artist and carpenter who helped plan the parade.

Modes said that was an infiltration and said the officers were "profiling" people at the meeting.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN SC-IMC's OTHERPRESS
santacruz.indymedia.org/mod/otherpress/display/679/index.php
 

crop the cops

Click on image for a larger version

undercovers-lastnight.jpg
Counter-surveillance photos of undercover police at a Last Night Santa Cruz meeting
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

and the proof they are cops is what? the cheap haircuts?
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Infiltration" of a public gathering? Amazing. Public is public. Did the organizer(s)require proof of identification from thoes that attended and specifically state that government employees were not invited? Help me out, how is it that constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and assembly were violated? Nothing has been said suggesting they interfered.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"and the proof they are cops is what? the cheap haircuts?"

People have found their own proof.

"Organizers had their suspicions confirmed by a concerned source within the police department."

And, "On Friday, Santa Cruz police Lt. Rudy Escalanate admitted that the plainclothes officers attended the meetings"
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

If it's public, it's public...fine. But these cops are not just attending and profiling people, they "even made suggestions"...one would think to hamper the efforts of the real organizers. THAT is why we are alarmed.

To any infiltrators reading: when you infiltrate a group, show utmost respect and for the most part, keep your mouths shut and listen. You might learn something. You're in no position to "suggest" anything.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Suggestions" hardly sounds like reason to be alarmed. Appears they probably provided some positive input. What's wrong with that?
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

The basic rule of thumb for police visiting public events is that they come in uniform and are clear about who they are and what they are representing.

Those cops weren't there to contribute to the event, but spy on the organizers - that's a problem.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

This is basically the police saying, "Unless you tell us everything before hand, we're going to spy on you to get the information ourselves"

who wants that sort of police state?
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

what policy states that they have to be in uniform even during off duty hours? If you guys feel it was ordered that they be there where is that proof? The police have civilian lives so it not unreasonable for them to show up to a public event.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"what policy states that they have to be in uniform even during off duty hours?"

The cops were not off duty. They were there on duty and undercover.

"If you guys feel it was ordered that they be there where is that proof?"

Lt. Rudy Escalante of the Santa Cruz Police Department was quoted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on 12/31/05 defending SCPD infiltration of public meetings. Escalante states, "If it's a public meeting about a public event on a public thoroughfare, we'll be there."

"The police have civilian lives so it not unreasonable for them to show up to a public event."

They were at the meetings as undercover police officers and they were getting paid for it.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

no all he did was confirm they were present at the meeting not working undercover. There is a big difference there. the organization pretty much asked for law enforement types to attend.

5) We need two experienced people to serve as police liaison. 6) We need an experienced group for safety and security.

santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/19208/index.php

who is more experieced in the area of safety and security than the cops? Notice in the announcement that cops are not requested to stay away. The organizers are at fault since they did not specify who could not attend.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"This is basically the police saying, "Unless you tell us everything before hand, we're going to spy on you to get the information ourselves"

who wants that sort of police state?"

Tell us everything about us? If someone is planning a large gathering in public, and not involving local government, then I think the police could make a fairly rational argument justifying their unannounced presence.

Put in context your argument is lacking.
 

Without a Doubt

We were told by a concerned source within the police department that they were there working undercover to take notes on the meetings. However, they did not merely observe, but participated, asked questions, made suggestions, slagged the cops, and otherwise pretended to be a couple of unaffiliated surfer dudes.
 

Put The City Council's Feet To The Fire

An anonymous person says, "[The undercover cops making] "suggestions" [about how to organize the event] hardly sounds like reason to be alarmed. Appears they probably provided some positive input. What's wrong with that?"

The police were a hostile presence and their suggestions were not meant to be helpful.

Undercover police agents have a long history of this kind of disruption of political movements in this country. One of the most common forms of disruption is attempting to get the movement to do something stupid or illegal that can then be used to discredit the movement or arrest movement members or both. Another common strategy of police agents is to work to divide and disrupt the movement in ways that hurt the ability of the movement to organize.

In addition the FBI has used information gathered through infiltrations to get people fired from their jobs, burglarize and assault activists in their homes and offices, and even to murder targeted activists.

The infiltration of legal political activities by government agencies is an intolerable violation of the law under the First Amendment of the Constitution and will not be tolerated by the people of Santa Cruz.

The City Council is directly responsible for these acts by allowing years of violations of civil liberties by the police department and the City Manager. Some of these council members have been on the City Council for decades and have been the chief spokespeople in white washing and attempting to justify political repression and other police abuses.

Likewise the newer council members have refused to take the basic steps necessary against the Chief of Police and the City Manager to correct an ongoing problem.

While we demand that the City Council take the steps necessary, including firing City Manager Dick Wilson and Chief Vogel we must also hold the feet of City Council members to the fire. As the boss of the Santa Cruz police and city bureaucracy they are responsible for a police department, city manager, and city law office that are all immersed in a culture of anti-leftist repression.

How City Council members deal with this will be up to them. To the extent members of the City Council make moves to correct this problem they may be seen as heroes to the public. On the other hand they can choose to do nothing and then this will be just another repeat of the past. A repeat where the City Council either justifies and defends police misconduct, pretends it didn't happen, or does too little to correct it, once more encouraging more abuses to take place in the future.

Keep your eyes on Cynthia Mathews, Tony Madrigal, Mike Rotkin, Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, Ryan Coonerty, and Emily Reilly and hold them responsible for what they do or don’t do. Hold their feet to the fire, it is the only way to either get them hopping towards justice or getting rid of them.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Where I wrote "Chief Vogel" should read "Deputy Chief Vogel".
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

I wasn't there for the meeting or two where the cops infiltrated the meeting. So I don't know how disruptive they were. I'm also not clear if they would need a warrant to be at the meeting, uninvited, at someone's house either undercover or not. If there was a warrant required, does anyone have access to a copy of it? They certainly do not need a warrant to be at the meeting when it was held at Lulu Carpenters or at the Wired Wash.

My own experience with having cops at meetings is limited to the following incident:

On the night of Tookie Williams' execution, at about 11:30PM-12:45AM there were about 8 people in the www.pagesincolor.com/chat.html chat room. One of these freely admitted to being a Philadelphia Police Officer. That was fine, though one person expressed privately that they wished he would leave. I believe it was useful to have the officer there, in plain view, because he let on about his own attitude about what I would call police brutality. After the execution he stated that he would "celebrate" by going out and arresting someone. That to me says a lot about his attitude on the job. He said this even though there was a lurker in the room with the handle "abc". If abc were looking for juicy comments to broadcast they were not dissapointed. To be fair, there were other people with different points of view too. One person was a family member of a murder victim who was against the death penalty. Other people were all over the political spectrum and from all over the country.

It was nice that the cops generally left us alone at the actual event, for Last Night. I only saw a couple of cop cars the whole time, and one of them was busy chasing down someone else. Traffic on Pacific Avenue was mysteriously absent, even though there was no official street closure that I could see. That was handy actually since we had a couple of motor vehicles in the parade.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

copy of email sent to Santa Cruz City Council
Subject: Undercover Police Surveillance

Dear Mayor and Council Members:

I imagine this is not the only letter you will receive on this topic, and I hope you will take the matter very seriously.

In a city feeling ever poorer, using our precious tax dollars for undercover police surveillance of groups dedicated to peace and a joyful, spontaneous celebration of the community of Santa Cruz seems a rather sad and appalling fact. Even in the best of economic times, it would be a sad and appalling fact.

I believe this is not the first time SCPD has engaged in undercover surveillance of local groups. Just prior to the invasion of Iraq, I witnessed regular photo surveillance being conducted from unmarked cars, by men in plainclothes, driving through the intersection of Ocean and Water Streets during the weekly Friday Peace Vigils there. I am almost certain that I recognized at least one of those men as an officer of the SCPD.

As Council Members, I hope you will insist immediately on the following three actions:

1) an open discussion of this matter, during an evening session, with staff present to answer questions, at the next Council meeting

2) a full investigation into and disclosure of any undercover efforts that have been conducted by SCPD in the past three years and focused on peace and social justice groups, antiwar groups, free speech groups, or groups dedicated to community based and controlled events

3) a letter of apology from the SCPD to be sent to the organizers of the Last Night DIY event, an event which drew hundreds of participants, hundreds of onlookers, and was one of the most peaceful, creative, and joyful events I have ever been a part of in my 28 years in Santa Cruz

This buck cannot be passed - whatever the structure of city government, and no matter who answers to whom, we have elected you to represent us and to run this city according to principles of democracy, transparency, and the highest regard for constitutional and civil rights - please exercise your oath and your duty of office vigorously and speedily!

Sincerely, and Peace Now!

Sherry Conable
a thankful participant in the Peace Walk that was the silent vanguard of the Last Night DIY Parade!
and a member of WILPF of SC, Women in Black of SC, Code Pink SC, the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, and the Coalition for Impeachment Now! (COIN!)

cc: Last Night organizers, activist groups, the press
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"The police were a hostile presence"

1. it was a PUBLIC meeting so anyone can show up, including the cops.

2. The photos in this thread show them sitting down, you must be paranoid if you find that hositile.

3. Its a parade meeting not an a.s.w.e.r. meeting.

4. security/law types were invited in the posting for the meeting.

get over yourselves not everything is about politics.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"1. it was a PUBLIC meeting so anyone can show up, including the cops.
2. The photos in this thread show them sitting down, you must be paranoid if you find that hositile.
3. Its a parade meeting not an a.s.w.e.r. meeting.
4. security/law types were invited in the posting for the meeting."

It was an open meeting (at a private residence) for those organizing the parade. If the police had come in uniform, we would have politely asked them to leave and address any questions they had to our PR people. The parade organizers sought citizens (not cops) who might help with security and safety and possibly search as liaison to the police. Unequivocally, police were not welcome. They resorted to subterfuse to get the information they wanted.

Imagine if the police suspected you of a crime, instead of obtaining search warrents of your premises, they crashed one of your parties undercover. Or as a stranded motorist who needed to use a phone. Using undercover officers to gain information from groups engaged in protected first amendment expression and assembly is unconstitutional.

Additionally, our sourced in the department said that the police were concerned that parade organizers were anarchists. So yes, it is political.

Open your mind and stop baiting.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Imagine if the police suspected you of a crime, instead of obtaining search warrents of your premises, they crashed one of your parties undercover. Or as a stranded motorist who needed to use a phone. Using undercover officers to gain information from groups engaged in protected first amendment expression and assembly is unconstitutional."

It is?..
 

Political Surveillance Supposedly Banned Unless Criminal Activity Under Investigation

As I undertstand it, the use of undercover police to surveille political gatherings doesn't violate the Fourth Amendment (unlawful searches and seizures). It does however violate the First Amendment. It has a chilling effect (as FBI infilatration of the CPUSA did during the 40s and 50s) and was specifically banned after the Church Committee investigations into police abuses in the 60s and 70s.

If there is reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior, police have the right to surveille. I don't think this was the case here (unless you view Last Night's lack of a permit as a "criminal action"--which isn't very persuasive).

I urge organizers and interested parties to file Public Records Act requests asking for all email and hardcopy of communications between City Council, City Manager, City Attorney, and Police Chief on political surveillance in Santa Cruz over the last three years.

The City has been regularly taking Homeland Security grants.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

John Thielking says "My own experience with having cops at meetings is limited to the following incident..."

I mean no offense John, but you have been present at many different political planning meetings for many different leftist organizations and I have no doubt that the police in some form or another have been present, unannounced, at more than one of those.

This time they got caught and we can't let them get away with it.

In another thread John Thielking raised this other point about a warrant to which I will repost the response I posted there:

John Thielking says, "I still maintain that you probably have some legal protection against such covert surveillance in a private home, but not in a public place such as the Wired Wash."

On what legal advice do you maintain this opinion?

Perhaps whether or not the cops had a warrant can be used against them, since I'm sure they did not.

But why do you try to let the cops off the hook on the biggest issue? The SCPD have violated the First Amendment Constitutional rights of the people of Santa Cruz through an illegal covert operation at taxpayers’ expense.

These kinds of covert operations are illegal. They were banned by the Senate in the 1970s due to public outrage about COINTELPRO and Watergate. In the 1980s the Socialist Workers Party sued the FBI for millions of dollars for their covert activities against the SWP.

The Patriot Act, however, does subvert these freedoms from government spying and harassment. It would be interesting if the City Government tried to use the Patriot Act to defend their activities subverting democratic rights here in Santa Cruz since the City Council has also passed a resolution saying they are opposed to that same act.

Politically the City Government will have a hard time using the Patriot Act to defend their actions. In addition I think that a very good legal and political argument can be made that the Patriot Act itself is illegal in that it violates various constitutional rights including the First Amendment.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

There still seems to be a delay on posts.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Steve: On what basis? It's called uninformed speculation. That's why we should investigate and call the ACLU, if they will even bother to help us, given the record of the local ACLU and the fact that Mike Rotkin is a local ACLU spokesperson.

Thanks for clarifying the other point about the First Amendment. I was vaugely aware of this point too, but not the specifics. I don't think my lack of awareness should be interpreted as letting the cops off the hook. If I wanted to let the cops off the hook, I would return to my Star Trek addiction on TV instead of posting here, and instead of reposting links to this story on www.pagesincolor.com, which gets read by about 250 people per week.

As for cops showing up at other organizing meetings, most of the meetings I have had have had less than 10 people in attendance and most of those were familliar faces. I think the SC Coalition to Free Mumia had about 5 well known members for about a year or more, when it had meetings. There was no room for any cops to sneak in there unobserved. Ditto for the HRO, which still has meetings. Who knows, mabe the cops do mimic someone who is homeless or metally ill, just to infiltrate the HRO meetings with all of three people there! What a waste of everyone's time.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Oops! That last post was by me. Also, there is no "delay" in posting if you read messages using mozilla instead of IE.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Personally, I'd like more info from Last Night organizers about this "concerned source within the police department" who supposedly confirmed they were being infiltrated by cops. This person needs to come forward.
 

John Thielking Is A Good Activist

John, I'm sorry if you felt that your political activism was under attack. I respect your work and I am thankful for it. Your insistence on certain points made me feel a need to respond, but I hope you don't see this as any kind of deeper attack against you or your work.

It is also with continued respect that I ask/respond to the following.

John responded to me saying, "It's called uninformed speculation".

What is uninformed?

Is it the fact that various government agencies have a history of routinely infiltrating left, even of small organizations?

You think the fact that a face is familiar means they can't be an agent? I suggest you study COINTELPRO. FBI agents pretended to function as regular members for long periods of time.

Is it uninformed speculation when I point to the fact that a very good legal and political argument can be made that the Patriot Act itself is illegal in that it violates various constitutional rights including the First Amendment?

This is not uninformed. This is based on how we won these rights in the first place, before the Patriot Act was passed.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"@ctivist" asks, "Personally, I'd like more info from Last Night organizers about this "concerned source within the police department" who supposedly confirmed they were being infiltrated by cops. This person needs to come forward."

SCPD Lt Rudy Escalante has already confimed the entire operation. No other source needs to come forward.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

What is uninformed? My speculations are vaugely informed, not yours Steve. I wish I had more info on 4th amendment violations so I could be more certain of my speculations (see the other thread). Thanks for the plug.
 

ACLU Interest

We talked with the ACLU Northern California branch in late December and to ACLU lawyers who called us today.

We hope to file FOIA requests to compel the Santa Cruz Police Department and the city administrators to

1. turn over any files, notes, or photographs they compiled during their undercover infiltration of parade organizers
2. turn over any files relating to individuals involved in this or related investigation
3. turn over any investigation of suspected local anarchist groups or events
4. reveal any collaboration, understandings, or sharing of information with federal or state law enforcement agencies regarding local political groups
5. immediately cease undercover investigations of political groups or events in which there is no concrete evidence of a crime

And no, I don't think the concerned source within the police department is going to come forward and jeapordize their job and working relationships. Police have already publically confirmed everything we were told privately.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

This whole thing got off on a confrontational foot when statements like this are made. "We're not asking for permits or permission. We're just gonna do it."
Makes it sound like this organization is really interested in 'playing by the rules'...
Sounds a little hypocritical to me.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

This whole thing got off on a confrontational foot when statements like this are made. "We're not asking for permits or permission. We're just gonna do it."
Makes it sound like this organization is really interested in 'playing by the rules'...
Sounds a little hypocritical to me.

Technically, under Santa Cruz City Law, they did not need a permit until about 5:30PM on the 31st when more than 100 people showed up. Also, as I pointed out in the other thread
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/19261/index.php
there is a school of thought, supported by a 1977 Supreme Court decision, that says the City's requirement to post a million dollar insurance policy before holding a permitted parade is an unconstitutional restriction of freedom of speech.
 

Get Those Public Records!

Hats off to Rico for his plan to file FOIA requests to obtain

--any files, notes, or photographs they compiled during their undercover infiltration of parade organizers
--any files relating to individuals involved in this or related investigation
any investigation of suspected local anarchist groups or events
--any collaboration, understandings, or sharing of information with federal or state law enforcement agencies regarding local political groups

and to immediately cease undercover investigations of political groups or events in which there is no concrete evidence of a crime

It would also be helpful to obtain any correspondence between city council members, the city manager, and the police chief on the surveillance issue, as I suggested earlier.

Did Rotkin's local ACLU offer any help here?
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

You can't expect to threaten downtown with a free-for-all, "unorganized" event and then expect the SCPD to just let it happen. They are concerned with public safety, not your political bent. I know many cops, and all of them are Democrats. This type of over-reaction isn't helping. Grow up!
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Just because someone is a Democrat doesn't make them a person we can trust. Joe Lieberman is a Democrat and one of the biggest supporters of the war.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Um, actually. If we plan an unorganized free-for-all, I do expect the police to let it happen. Unless they have evidence that there is an intention to commit a crime more serious than jaywalking, I expect them to stay the fuck out of our way. It is not too little to ask, and I am frankly surprised at people's willingness to roll over to authority. We certainly should not allow ourselves to be trained to expect confrontation from authority everytime we do anything slightly outside the box.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Let us hear your repeat that when during the crowded affair, you get stabbed in the leg by who knows. That's how it happens. You'll require medical services and I suspect you'll want justice...maybe not.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Using undercover officers to gain information from groups engaged in protected first amendment expression and assembly is unconstitutional."

How? Did they stop the event? Did they prevent the meeting from happening?

After Halloween, I'm glad the cops made every effort to make sure I was safe downtown. Even if that means they attend a meeting.

Besides, who did more damage, the cops or those who photographed them and placed their images on the Web? Hard for an undercover cop to be undercover if everyone knows he's a cop.
 

The SCPD Have Violated First Amendment Constitutional Rights

The Anonymous Poster asks, "How [does this violate protected First Amendment expression]?"

As I've already explained:

The SCPD have violated the First Amendment Constitutional rights of the people of Santa Cruz through an illegal covert operation at taxpayers’ expense.

These kinds of covert operations are illegal. They were banned by the Senate in the 1970s due to public outrage about COINTELPRO and Watergate. In the 1980s the Socialist Workers Party sued the FBI for millions of dollars for their covert activities against the SWP.

The Patriot Act, however, does subvert these freedoms from government spying and harassment. It would be interesting if the City Government tried to use the Patriot Act to defend their activities subverting democratic rights here in Santa Cruz since the City Council has also passed a resolution saying they are opposed to that same act.

Politically the City Government will have a hard time using the Patriot Act to defend their actions. In addition I think that a very good legal and political argument can be made that the Patriot Act itself is illegal in that it violates various constitutional rights including the First Amendment.

At this meeting the police were a hostile presence and their suggestions were not meant to be helpful.

Undercover police agents have a long history of this kind of disruption of political movements in this country. One of the most common forms of disruption is attempting to get the movement to do something stupid or illegal that can then be used to discredit the movement or arrest movement members or both. Another common strategy of police agents is to work to divide and disrupt the movement in ways that hurt the ability of the movement to organize.

In addition the FBI has used information gathered through infiltrations to get people fired from their jobs, burglarize and assault activists in their homes and offices, and even to murder targeted activists.

The infiltration of legal political activities by government agencies is an intolerable violation of the law under the First Amendment of the Constitution and will not be tolerated by the people of Santa Cruz.

The City Council is directly responsible for these acts by allowing years of violations of civil liberties by the police department and the City Manager. Some of these council members have been on the City Council for decades and have been the chief spokespeople in white washing and attempting to justify political repression and other police abuses.

Likewise the newer council members have refused to take the basic steps necessary against the Chief of Police and the City Manager to correct an ongoing problem.

While we demand that the City Council take the steps necessary, including firing City Manager Dick Wilson and Deputy Chief Vogel we must also hold the feet of City Council members to the fire. As the boss of the Santa Cruz police and city bureaucracy they are responsible for a police department, city manager, and city law office that are all immersed in a culture of anti-leftist repression.

How City Council members deal with this will be up to them. To the extent members of the City Council make moves to correct this problem they may be seen as heroes to the public. On the other hand they can choose to do nothing and then this will be just another repeat of the past. A repeat where the City Council either justifies and defends police misconduct, pretends it didn't happen, or does too little to correct it, once more encouraging more abuses to take place in the future.

Keep your eyes on Cynthia Mathews, Tony Madrigal, Mike Rotkin, Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, Ryan Coonerty, and Emily Reilly and hold them responsible for what they do or don’t do. Hold their feet to the fire, it is the only way to either get them hopping towards justice or getting rid of them.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Steve,

Just a hunch but I think that you're answering an Anonymous Po-Po-Poster.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Just a hunch but I think that you're answering an Anonymous Po-Po-Poster."

Nope, just someone who is very happy that my tax dollars are being used to try to protect me. I still don't see how their presence was hostile at the meeting. I guess we just see the same thing differently.

"Keep your eyes on Cynthia Mathews, Tony Madrigal, Mike Rotkin, Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, Ryan Coonerty, and Emily Reilly and hold them responsible for what they do or don’t do."

I plan too, but probably not the way you would like.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Seems to me they were enforcing the First Amendment, making sure the assembly would be peaceful.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

The anonymous friend to SCPD unconstitutional activities says: "Seems to me they [the SCPD] were enforcing the First Amendment, making sure the assembly would be peaceful."

This is the dumbest, most off the wall interpretation of the First Amendment I’ve ever seen. Since the First Amendment guarantees the people’s right to free speech against government intervention, and not the right of the government to interfere with and pacify the population, on its face this interpretation inappropriate.

It was no more the government’s constitutional right to interfere with this activity than it was their right to gun down unarmed protesters with bullet holes in the back at Kent State.

Keeping the peace is another question and the SCPD are the last force on earth to keep anything peaceful or protect the First Amendment. From the cold blooded murder of activist John Dine with the false claim that he was holding a fake gun (a claim that contradicted by all independent witnesses), to my arrest and beating for distributing literature, to this illegal infiltration of a legal political activity, to many other attacks on activists and free speech in Santa Cruz, it is the SCPD that commits violence and violates the First Amendment, not the people.

Perhaps if the SCPD started infiltrating the military, the FBI, and Halliburton you could make the argument that what they are doing is trying to keep things peaceful and make sure that the First Amendment of the Constitution is upheld, but without that your argument is just as much a lie as the names that the SCPD cops gave when they illegally barged into free speech activities uninvited.
 

Re: Police Infiltrate Peaceful Parade Organizers

Never forget John Dine
 

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