Mar 172006

Unbelievable, and yet true: The explicit goal of the police is to prevent law-abiding citizens from protesting. If this isn’t a totalitarian state, I don’t know what is.

Welcome to Republican AMERIKA…where your son can be sent off to die in Iraq for “freedom” while you could be jailed, harassed, and spied upon here at home while trying to exercise those very same “freedoms”. Bush and Republicans…the scoundrels who use patriotism as a weapon.

In five internal reports made public yesterday as part of a lawsuit, New York City police commanders candidly discuss how they had successfully used “proactive arrests,” covert surveillance and psychological tactics at political demonstrations in 2002, and recommend that those approaches be employed at future gatherings. Among the most effective strategies, one police captain wrote, was the seizure of demonstrators on Fifth Avenue who were described as “obviously potential rioters.”

Other tactics revealed by the memoranda are equally repulsive:

The reports also made clear what the police have yet to discuss publicly: that the department uses undercover officers to infiltrate political gatherings and monitor behavior.

Indeed, one of the documents — a draft report from the department’s Disorder Control Unit — proposed in blunt terms the resumption of a covert tactic that had been disavowed by the city and the federal government 30 years earlier. Under the heading of recommendations, the draft suggested, “Utilize undercover officers to distribute misinformation within the crowds.”

Once again, it’s a crime for you to lie to the police, but just fine for the police to lie to you. It seems NYPD didn’t learn from its mistakes:

The power of the police to secretly monitor political gatherings was tightly controlled by a federal court between 1985 and early 2003, the result of a lawsuit by political activists from the 1960’s who charged that police undercover officers had disrupted their ability to express their opinions. Many of the restrictions from that case, known as Handschu, were eased at the request of the city in 2003.

The proposal to use undercover officers to spread misinformation — which the Police Department says was not adopted — recalled the origins of the Handschu lawsuit, which was based in part on the actions of undercover agents and officers who instigated trouble and spread lies among a group of military veterans who opposed the Vietnam War.

NYPD also thought it would be cool to intimidate protestors with a massive police presence:

Capt. Timothy Hardiman also took note of what he saw as the helpful presence of city corrections buses, which are used to transport prisoners and have reinforced windows, protected by metal grids. “It was useful to have buses with corrections officers on hand,” Captain Hardiman wrote. “They also had a powerful psychological effect.”

In other words, the police hoped to have a chilling effect on protest. Don’t you wish we could depend on law enforcement to be honest, not deceptive? Don’t you wish NYPD cared about constitutional niceties like probable cause and freedom of assembly?

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