Documents released on April 2, 2013 reveal that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) produced daily briefings on peaceful Occupy protesters during the height of the movement last year. The 252 pages of documents were released on March 14 to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through a Freedom of Information Act request (the original documents can be viewed online).
We reported last January about the ways in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) worked with the New York Exchange and other corporate entities to share information about Occupy events as “potential terrorist threats.” Another report from October 2012 described how the federal government has been using anti-terrorism techniques to spy on peaceful activists. Police brutality has been a common issue during Occupy protests.
The latest documents show the Department of Homeland Security, created to counter terrorist activity, was also involved with the surveillance. The new information also shows that the surveillance was not limited to the New York City Occupy movement but also happened in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami Minneapolis, and other cities. Information was gathered from news reports, in social media sites, and in online chat rooms and shared in illegal “fusion centers” between the DHS, FBI, local police, and other government agencies who collaborated to spy on and stifle “occupy-type” protests. The briefings included a specific section for “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations,” even though those same events are clearly protected by the Bill of Rights.