Is US Homeland Security behind the Nationwide OWS Crackdowns?
November 18, 2011
Anti-War.com & Examiner & DHS & Capitoilette & Associated Press
The following collection of news reports is deeply disturbing -- especially in light of the well-publicized "first-ever nationwide test" of the Emergency Broadcast System. Floods, quakes and hurricanes are regional events. What would justify a "national emergency"? One possibility would be a declaration of martial law. If DHS and FPS agents were on-the-ground, coordinating the recent "local" OWS crackdowns, we could be seeing the dawn of a police state.
Did Feds Coordinate Occupy
Wall Street Crackdowns?
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
(November 15, 2011) -- Heavily armed police, many of them in riot gear, marched on the Zuccotti Park in New York City today, arresting 200 people and clearing the park of Occupy Wall Street protesters. New York's mayor Bloomberg defended the attack as a question of improving "health and safety conditions."
It was the latest in a number of increasingly violent crackdowns nationwide, with a particularly ugly incident in Oakland leaving a former US Marine seriously wounded. From Atlantic to Pacific, aggressive crackdowns are becoming the rule, rather than the exception.
Is this simply a coincidence, with local officials reaching the same conclusion about the need to violently silence dissent at about the same time? Perhaps not, as indications are growing, fueled by comments from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, that the crackdowns came in a consultation with other mayors. This fueled speculation that the federal government might have been involved, which grew after a report that an unnamed federal official confirmed the Department of Homeland Security's involvement. The Justice Dept has said the Oakland call only included mayors.
The Department of Homeland Security has been at the center of a series of policies since its creation that have left local police departments the nation over armed to the teeth and trained to adopt military tactics. The reaction to the Occupy protests sees these new military-style police forces taking their heavy-handed approach in response to rallies.
The DHS consultation and potentially its coordination of violent crackdowns is an alarming new policy, one which is liable to escalate as next year's national elections draw close, with the hope of clearing at least the most visible reminders of a dissatisfied populace.
Report: Department of Homeland Security
Forces Spotted at 'Occupy' Crackdowns
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
(November 16, 2011) -- Questions about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) potential involvement in the violent crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street protests nationwide continue to grow today, with new reports that not only were they sighted at several of the crackdowns but in one case photographic evidence of DHS forces arresting a photographer at a Portland rally.
The photograph apparently is authentic, as the Federal Protective Service (FPS), a wing of the DHS, issued a statement in the wake of the Portland crackdown confirming that they were "working with the Portland Police Bureau to enforce the prohibition of overnight encampments."
That crackdown was comparatively minor compared to the increasing level of violence used in recent days, an apparent result of what Oakland Mayor Jean Quan called a "conference call" with other mayors.
There has been speculation and even one unconfirmed report that the "conference call" was organized by the DHS, as were the crackdowns in their wake. So far, however, there has been no formal confirmation that this was the case.
The FPS is supposed to be responsible for the physical security of certain federal buildings, and does so mostly with a massive team of 15,000 security contractors. They have recently hyped a program of "proactive" moves against potential future threats against facilities, which may suggest why they are being used against domestic unrest, even if on a small scale basis.
DHS's Federal Protective Services
Seen at Portland 'Occupy' Arrests
Rick Ellis / Examiner.com
MINNEAPOLIS (November 16, 2011) -- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a huge organization, with lots of smaller services lumped together in one big mis-matched umbrella. So when someone mentions "Homeland Security," they can be talking about anything from nuclear security to immigration agents.
One lesser-known part of DHS is the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is tasked with providing "integrated security and law enforcement services to federally owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other assets."
That mission might be one of the reasons that officers from the FPS have been spotted at several of the "Occupy" crackdowns, including the October 31 arrests in Portland.
An OccupyPortland photographer was arrested by what appear to be officers from the Federal Protective Service, based on these photos, which include officers and vehicles bearing FPS logos.
Proactive Security Measures
Meet Dynamic Threat Environments
Department of Homeland Security
As representative symbols of US strength and leadership, federal facilities have always been labeled as attractive and strategically important targets for terrorists. A potential attack on these facilities can result in substantial consequences. Due to the high profile and necessary access of these facilities, they operate within a very dynamic environment, requiring a constant flow and monitoring of reliable information regarding active threats to facilities and associated assets, systems, networks, and functions.
In an effort to avert or obstruct potential insider threats as part of terrorist operations and criminal activity in and around federal facilities, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) employs Operation Shield. Operation Shield systematically measures the effectiveness of FPS countermeasures. This includes the effectiveness of FPS' Protective Security Officers in detecting the presence of unauthorized persons and potentially disruptive or dangerous activities.
Operation Shield is a comprehensive operation that combines physical security expertise and law enforcement authority into an enhanced security team to provide a visual deterrent at FPS-protected facilities. The goal of Operation Shield is to demonstrate the preparedness and agility of FPS' response to the current threat environment within our federal community. Operation Shield includes the following objectives:
• Provide a highly visible law enforcement presence through patrol operations and increased coverage
• Enhance security posture intended to disrupt terrorist/criminal activity
• Maintain a friendly, productive, and helpful customer service-oriented relationship
• Target deployment based on current threat assessment or intelligence
• Reduce social and physical disorder
• Enhance the quality of life for employees, visitors, and community members
Homeland Security Coordinated
18-City Police Crackdown on Occupy Protest
National Coordination Goes Against Protection of Local Accountability
(November 16, 2011) -- According to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, 18 cities coordinated police crack downs on Occupy protests. (See story below.)
Wonkette reports that Homeland Security likely organized the crack downs:
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?
That day is now, and has been for some time. But it's also now confirmed that it's now, as some Justice Department official screwed up and admitted that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated the riot-cop raids on a dozen major #Occupy Wall Street demonstration camps nationwide yesterday and today. (Oh, and tonight, too: Seattle is being busted up by the riot cops right now, so be careful out there.)
Rick Ellis of the Minneapolis edition of Examiner.com has this, based on a "background conversation" he had with a Justice Department official on Monday night:
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….
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.
And for those who are understandably doubtful about Examiner.com as a news source, here's an AP story [see story below] that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination)
Yves Smith notes:
The 18 police action was a national, coordinated effort. This is a more serious development that one might imagine. Reader Richard Kline has pointed out that one of the de facto protections of American freedoms is that policing is local -- accountable to elected officials at a level of government where voters matter. National coordination vitiates the notion that policing is responsive to and accountable to the governed.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan
Admits Cities Coordinated Crackdown
On Occupy Movement
OAKLAND (November 15, 2011) -- Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking in an interview with the BBC (excerpted on The Takeaway radio program. Audio of Quan starts at the 5:30 mark), casually mentioned that she was on a conference call with leaders of 18 US cities shortly before a wave of raids broke up Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country. "I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation…."
Mayor Quan then rambles about how she "spoke with protestors in my city" who professed an interest in "separating from anarchists," implying that her police action was helping this somehow. Interestingly, Quan then essentially advocates that occupiers move to private spaces, and specifically cites Zuccotti Park as an example:
In New York City, it's interesting that the Wall Street movement is actually on a private park, so they're not, again, in the public domain, and they're not infringing on the public's right to use a public park.
Many witnesses to the wave of government crackdowns on numerous #occupy encampments have been wondering aloud if the rapid succession was more than a coincidence; Jean Quan's casual remark seems to clearly imply that it was. Might it also be more than a coincidence that this succession of police raids started after President Obama left the US for an extended tour of the Pacific Rim?
Mayors, Police Chiefs
Talk Strategy on Protests
The Associated Press
(November 15, 2011) -- 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.
From Atlanta to Washington, D.C., officials talked about how authorities could make camps safe for protesters and the community. Officials also learned about the kinds of problems they could expect from cities with larger and more established protest encampments.
In Portland, for example, protests were initially peaceful gatherings. Then the city's large number of homeless people moved in, transforming the camp into an open-air treatment center for drug addiction and mental illness.
On Oct. 11, just five days after protesters set up camp, police chiefs who had been dealing with the encampments for weeks warned that the homeless will be attracted to the food, shelter and medical care the camps offered. There were more tidbits, including the midnight deadline.
City police did exactly that when they evicted protesters during the day from two downtown parks over the weekend. Officers came armed with pepper-spray, bean-bag rounds and stun guns, but didn't need to deploy them. One protester says he was injured when he fell and police dragged him from the scene.
Going in at midnight "would have been a confrontation that really wasn't necessary," police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said. It was advice that came after the Oakland, Calif., protest was shut down Oct. 25 in a confrontation that turned violent. One protester, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, was badly injured.
In that city, where protesters' encampment was peacefully removed on Monday, city officials took part in strategy sessions with other big cities dealing with similar demonstrations. Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said he participated in a call organized by Wexler's group and has talked with officials in the New York police department's civil disturbance unit and high-ranking police officials in San Francisco.
He said a theme was how the atmosphere at the camps had shifted from a haven for peaceful protest to one for criminal behavior. "Some chiefs had been tolerant of the progressive movement, but that all changed when the criminal element showed up," Jordan said. "As police, you can't allow anything that foster criminal activities in any city."
Jordan said that he and other police brass and city officials began planning last week for officers to remove the camp outside City Hall for a second time after collecting enough evidence that gang activity and an open-air drug market had emerged at the park.
The camp's removal became an urgent issue after a 25-year-old man was fatally gunned down on Thursday. "We don't need any more evidence than that," Jordan said. "We had to step it up."
Mayors of mid-sized and large cities held similar calls twice last week, one of which was organized by the US Conference of Mayors.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams said the primary issue among the mayors was how to get a message to a movement that didn't have any clear leadership. "A lot of time was spent on how do you effectively communicate with a group that doesn't have a leader?" Adams said.
Some departments didn't have to rely on the conference calls. Like most police agencies, they are constantly exchanging information. Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said his department gets updates as much as several times a day from various sources, including other law enforcement agencies and media outlets that are monitoring the Occupy protests.
Some of the information shared among law enforcement officials included how many people are involved in the protests, if there have been any arrests and if demonstrators are planning any events. Smith said he was unaware of other agencies' plans to evict protesters.
In New York, where police cleared out a tent camp in a park near Wall Street that had become the center of the movement when it sprang up several months ago, authorities declined to discuss details of their talks with other agencies.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the department had been in touch with police departments elsewhere, but that what works in one city may not necessarily work in another. "We're sort of unique. I don't think you can look at one city. We have the ability to mass a large number of police officers," he said. "Some of these other cities quite frankly don't.
In Seattle, protesters initially gathered at a downtown park near one of the city's main shopping districts. After warnings that overnight camping wouldn't be allowed, several people were arrested when they wouldn't leave.
"Our response has been localized," police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said. "We're aware that other cities are going through other circumstances. Of course, we monitor the news. "Ultimately we're acting on information that we have here, not with what's going in Boston or New York or Los Angeles," he added.
Associated Press writers Samantha Gross in New York, Terry Collins in Oakland, Calif., Greg Risling in Los Angeles, Jessica Gresko in Washington, D.C., Errin Haines in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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