In the Wake of Occupy Crackdown, NLG Taps Feds for Information

November 16, 2011
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Co-Chair, NLG Mass Defense Committee
(202) 232-1180 ext. 202

The National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests Wednesday with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Park Service (NPS).

The requests ask that the agencies release all information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments that played out in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks.

Each FOIA request states: “This request specifically encompasses disclosure of any documents or information pertaining to federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments.”

The Occupy Movement has been confronted by a nearly simultaneous effort by local governments and local police agencies to evict and break up encampments in cities and towns throughout the country. It is now known that mayors and police officials took part in conference calls in recent weeks to develop a coordinated strategy for breaking up the encampments. This strategizing produced common talking points that established a pretextual rationale to justify police action.

“The severe crackdown on the occupation movement appears to be part of a national strategy to crush the movement,” said Mara Veheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice and the co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Mass Defense Committee. “This multi-jurisdictional coordination shows that the crackdown is supremely political."

“The FOIA requests seek critical information regarding the role of federal law enforcement agencies,” Verheyden-Hilliard explained. “The Occupy demonstrations are not criminal activities, and police should not be treating them as such. This protest movement for social and economic justice has captured the imagination of the country. The coordinated effort of law enforcement to suppress it is a reflection of its political challenge to the status-quo.”

“We see the scapegoating of these movements, the attacks at night, and in general, tactics designed to terrorize and to scare protesters away," said Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild. "This request is critical to the transparency that is required in order for the people of the United States to be informed as to the U.S. government's action in regard to free speech activities."

Read the Freedom of Information Act request here.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) is a not-for-profit constitutional rights legal and educational organization which seeks to ensure government transparency and constitutional accountability within police practices. For more information go to: www.JusticeOnline.org.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has members in every state.

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