The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
(PCJF) has obtained FBI documents under a Freedom of Information Act request that reveal a secret nationwide monitoring and investigation program targeting the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to the documents, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as potential criminals and "domestic terrorists" despite the fact that Occupy demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful and the Bureau admits that protest organizers did "not condone the use of violence."
"This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI's surveillance, monitoring and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement," PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard wrote. "These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America."
Indeed, the heavily redacted documents prove that the FBI consulted with the New York Stock Exchange and private banks both before and during the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011-2012. Agents from the Jackson, Mississippi FBI division attended a meeting of the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, Mississippi with private banks and the Biloxi Police to discuss the upcoming December 7, 2011 "National Bad Bank Sit-In Day" protests.
The documents also prove that the FBI worked in concert with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and private corporations to combat the perceived threat from the nascent Occupy movement. A report from the Domestic Security Alliance Council
(DSAC), which describes itself as "a strategic partnership between the FBI, DHS and the private sector," labeled last December's West Coast port protests
as "criminal activity." The DSAC report also contains a "handling notice" that acknowledges the information contained in the report is "meant for use primarily within the corporate security community."
The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) also reported to the DSAC regarding cooperation between labor unions and the Occupy movement in staging the port protests.
Perhaps most alarmingly, numerous FBI divisions referred to Occupy protesters as "domestic terrorists." Among these divisions were: Anchorage, Alaska; Jacksonville, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee. The Jackson, Mississippi Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a "Counterterrorism Preparedness" alert, in which the Occupy movement is named. The FBI's Memphis Joint Terrorism Task Force includes Occupy along with the Aryan Nation and Anonymous as potential terrorist threats.
FBI divisions and other interested parties in various cities also monitored and infiltrated local Occupy groups. In Richmond, Virginia, the Federal Reserve spied on Occupy "to pass on [to the FBI] information regarding the movement" and to "pass on updates of the events and decisions made" during Occupy rallies and planning sessions. Documents also revealed spying abuses committed by the FBI "Campus Liaison Program," under which agents from the Bureau's Syracuse, New York division coordinated with campus police from the State University of New York, Oswego to monitor the Occupy encampment there.
"The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material," PCJF staff attorney Heather Benno wrote. "We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation."