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Chicago Police Sought Assistance From DHS On Occupy Chicago

By aaroncynic in News on May 4, 2012 2:00PM

Photo Credit: Chicagoist/Aaroncynic

Less than a month after Occupy Chicago faced two rounds of arrests for attempting to create its own encampment in Grant Park last year, Chicago Police sent a request for information to the Department of Homeland Security to see how other cities dealt with the movement. Documents released via a Freedom of Information Act request to Truthout show on Nov. 9, CPD was interested in contacting law enforcement in New York, Oakland, Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle, Boston and Denver to obtain information on Occupy movements. Specifically, Chicago Police were interested in knowing:

  • If the city allowed Occupy to set up a camp.
  • If they were allowed to camp out, where the location was.
  • If the encampment was at a specific building or location.
  • What arrest charges were filed.

The request went to the DHS National Operations Center Fusion Desk, which is “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational-awareness” that pertains to the “prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.” It was quickly recalled by the Intelligence Coordination Branch Chief of DHS, under the grounds that personnel:

“(M)ay NOT be engaged in any efforts to gather information on First Amendment-protected activities that have no direct nexus to violence, or that are otherwise outside the scope of DHS and I&A authorities.”

According to the documents, the Boston Police Department had already responded to the CPD's Counter Terrorism Section before the recall was issued.

Truthout's FOIA request netted 335 pages of documents pertaining to surveillance and other potential coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement in regards to Occupy movements nationwide. Among many other items, the documents also show:

  • An Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent was dispatched to assist law enforcement during a meeting between Occupy Buffalo and Occupy Toronto.
  • The United States Northern Command, tasked with providing military support for civilian authorities and coordinating other military operations in the United States, was kept informed on the November 2nd Occupy Oakland port shutdown.
  • A “watch officer” issued an email to DHS and FEMA employees alerting them to an Occupy DC event called “occupy the evening commute,” where protesters were supposed to canvass commuters on the DC subway.
  • Confusion among local law enforcement on who is giving orders and who handles arrests on a federal level regarding demonstrations which occur on federal property.