National Lawyers Guild Files FOIA Requests Seeking Evidence of Federal Role in Occupy Crackdown
With Congress no longer performing its sworn role of defending the US Constitution, the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice today filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and the National Parks Service to release "all their information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks."
According to a statement by the NLG, each of the FOIA requests 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."
National Lawyers Guild leaders, including Executive Director Heidi Beghosian and NLG Mass Defense Committee co-chair and PCJ Executive Director Mara Veheyden-Hilliard both told TCBH! earlier this week that the rapid-fire assaults on occupation encampments in cities from Oakland to New York and Portland, Seattle and Atlanta, all within days of each other, the similar approach taken by police, which included overwhelming force in night-time attacks, mass arrests, use of such weaponry as pepper spray, sound cannons, tear gas, clubs and in some cases "non-lethal" projectiles like bean bags and rubber bullets, the removal and even arrest of reporters and camera-persons, and the justifications offered by municipal officials, who all cited "health" and "safety" concerns, all pointed to central direction and guidance.
As we reported, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admitted publicly in an interview on a San Francisco radio program earlier this week that prior to her first order to police to clear Oscar Grant Plaza of occupiers on Oct. 25, she had participated in a "conference call" with 17 other urban mayors to discuss strategy for dealing with the movement. At the time of that call, her mayor's office legal advisor, who subsequently resigned over the harsh police tactics used against demonstrators, says Quan was, significantly, in Washington, DC.
The NLG says the Occupy Movement, which is now in over 170 cities around the U.S., "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."
Veheyden-Hilliard says, "The severe crackdown on the occupation movement appears to be part of a national strategy," which she said is designed to "crush the movement," an action she describes as "supremely political."
She adds, "The Occupy demonstrations are not criminal activities and police should not be treating them as such."