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News :: Human Rights
POLICE SPYING OPERATION EXPOSED
18 Dec 2003
POLICE SPYING OPERATION EXPOSED
POLICE SPYING OPERATION EXPOSED

The lead editorial in the December 17 Washington Post, commenting on a public D.C. City Council investigation into police spying, brutality and pre-emptive arrests against demonstrators, is evidence that the national campaign to defend the First Amendment is effectively striking back at the war waged today by various law enforcement agencies against dissent in the United States.

Citing the litigation brought by the Washington D.C.-based Partnership for Civil Justice (International Action Center, et al., v. The United States, et al.) the Post Editorial opens with an excerpt from July 10, 2003, ruling
by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler:

"The District of Colombia, through [assistant police chief Alfred Broadbent] seems to be admitting that it maintains widespread, extensive spying operations on the activities
and operations of political advocacy organizations, such as Plaintiffs [International Action Center, et al.], on the basis of their political philosophies and conduct protected under the First Amendment. Moreover, Chief Broadbent admitted in his testimony that such operations are carried on even in the absence of allegations of criminal activities by the organizations being spied upon." The Post editorial goes on to cite three other major protest cases being handled by the Partnership for Civil Justice.

The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), along with the FBI, Secret Service and National Park Police, have been the subject of a broad-based legal and political action campaign to win justice for those who have been the victims of police misconduct.

The Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ) has filed four major lawsuits in Washington DC in the past three years that have uncovered a body of evidence showing that law enforcement agencies have been engaged in systematic and
coordinated efforts to spy on and disrupt political organizations engaged in First Amendment protected activities. Evidence obtained in the discovery phase of litigation also includes police undercover operatives
engaged in violent assaults against peaceful demonstrators protesting against George W. Bush during the January 20, 2001 Inaugural Parade. (For more information on the lawsuits go to http://www.justiceonline.org)

In the last few weeks more than 20,000 organizations and individuals have signed on to a petition opposing the FBI's illegal spying operation against the U.S. antiwar movement. The FBI operation was revealed in an internal
FBI memorandum, written ten days before the October 25 demonstration in Washington DC that demanded Bring the Troops Home Now, End the Occupation of Iraq, that was the subject of a New York Times story on November 23. To see
the petition go http://www.votenowar.org or
http://www.internationalanswer.org

As the spotlight on police and law enforcement misconduct gets brighter as a result of the litigation and political action campaigns, elected officials in Washington D.C. have scheduled two days of hearings to scrutinize the
police department in the District of Columbia.

The following is the statement of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, given on behalf of the Partnership for Civil Justice and National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee on December 17, 2003, at the Public Oversight Hearing on Current Policies and Practices of the MPD Related to Demonstrations, Committee on the Judiciary, District of Columbia Council.

* * * * * * * * * *

STATEMENT OF MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD
On Behalf of the Partnership for Civil Justice and National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee
December 17, 2003
Public Oversight Hearing
On Current Policies and Practices of the MPD Related to Demonstrations
Committee on the Judiciary
District of Columbia Council

Litigation by the Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ) over more than a three year stretch has uncovered systematic police abuse of demonstrators and revealed that the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
is engaged in an ongoing illegal domestic spying operation on political activists and that it has used undercover agent provocateurs to commit felonious assaults against peaceful demonstrators.

Today's hearing will include dramatic video footage of MPD undercover police officers carrying out violent assaults against protestors at the Inauguration of George Bush. This footage was obtained by and is in the possession of
the Partnership for Civil Justice, which is litigating on behalf of activists who were assaulted.

The illegal conduct carried out by the MPD - which was exposed in the litigation filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild - is just the tip of the iceberg regarding law enforcement's illegal violation of the First and Fourth Amendments. It is not
only the MPD but the U.S. Secret Service, FBI and National Park Police, in cooperation and coordination with the MPD, that have waged a war against dissent in Washington, D.C.

We salute Councilmember Kathy Patterson for holding these hearings. It is evidence that elected leaders can be responsive to the rising people's movement in the United States that is using both street demonstrations and legal
action to push back the government to a constitutional line and to defend free speech rights.

The purpose of the lawsuits is to win justice for those whose rights have been violated, and it is also to ensure accountability by police and law enforcement officials. MPD Chief Charles Ramsey, Mayor Anthony Williams and other
officials have made the avoidance of accountability a primary focus of their conduct after the egregious violations of demonstrators' rights in episode after episode in the District of Columbia. This is evidenced in their public conduct as well as when the Chief testified
under oath in a recent deposition conducted by the Partnership for Civil Justice.

The police department and Mayor of Washington have ratified the shocking and illegal conduct of law enforcement both by word and by deed. They have repeated their illegal tactics time and time again. It has only been through the litigation by activists that the truth of
these unconstitutional actions has been brought to light. As we fight for justice in the Courts, we again thank the Council for providing public forum and for using its authority to oversee the police department to also seek accountability and change on behalf of the people of
Washington, D.C. and the people of the United States who come to Washington, D.C. to exercise their First Amendment rights.

The Partnership for Civil Justice's First Amendment litigation on behalf of demonstrators in Washington DC includes:

Alliance for Global Justice, et al v. District of Columbia, et al
- IMF/World Bank Demonstrations in April 2000
- Includes class action claim for mass arrest of over 700 lawful protestors in advance of days of protests, calculated as a preemptive political sweep to take activists off the streets; the illegal raid, seizure and closure of the convergence center; confiscation of political literature; brutal beatings of peaceful
activists.

International Action Center, et al v. United States of America, et al
- Counter Inaugural Protests against George W. Bush in January 2001
- Violent assaults by MPD agents provocateurs; detention of protestors and splintering of groups and assemblies by the Civil Disturbance Units (CDUs); infiltration and domestic spying by the MPD posing as activists; joint
unconstitutional action with the Bush-Cheney Inaugural Committee and federal government to deny access to the parade route.

Bolger, et al v. Ramsey, et al
- Antiwar demonstrations in April 2002
- Arrest based on political ideology, targeting
anarchists, or persons perceived by their manner of dress to be or to associate with anarchists in the absence of any criminal activity.

Barham, et al v. Ramsey, et al
- Anti-war and IMF/World Bank Demonstrations in September 2002
- Class action certification. Rounding up and jailing over 400 people, including activists, legal observers and passers-by, in advance of weekend of planned protests against corporate globalization and war against Iraq that
was calculated to take political activists off the streets and disrupt their ability to assemble and advocate for change in U.S. policy.

upcoming litigation:
April 12, 2003
- police beating of peaceful demonstrators at anti-war march including the filmed beating of a protester while held down by police officers.

Partnership for Civil Justice
http://www.justiceonline.org

------------------
See also:
http://www.answerboston.org

This work is in the public domain
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