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National Lawyers Guild Files FOIA Requests Seeking Evidence of Federal Role in Occupy Crackdown

The police conducting these coordinated raids look more like Imperial Storm Troopers than cops in their riot gear get-ups. The attacks show how the nation's local police are becoming more of a national paramilitary force, curiously akin to the widely despised and feared Armed Police or Wu Jing who do the heavy riot-control and repression duty in China. Equipped with federally-supplied body armor and military-style weapons like stun grenades, sound canons and of course assault rifles, domestic US police forces responding to even garden variety, peaceful protest actions often look more like an occupying army than police. Meanwhile their actions have even been condemned by the Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who are increasingly coming to and supporting the occupation movement. These vets say the police are employing tactics that they themselves were not even permitted to use in dealing with unrest in occupied or war-torn lands.

The Guild and other observers strongly suspect that the 72 so-called Fusion Centers created buy the Homeland Security Department around the country, and the many Joint Terror Task Forces operated by the FBI in conjunction with local police in many cities, are serving as coordination points for the increasingly systematic attacks on the Occupy Movement.

It will be instructive to see how the Obama administration and the targeted agencies respond to the Guild's FOIA requests, and even more interesting to see what kinds of documents--if any--are forthcoming.

“We’re calling for expedited processing, because this is an urgent effort, and if we don’t get that, we can go to court over that issue,” says Verheyden-Hilliard. “Government delays in responding defeat the purpose of an open government law, with people in the streets and under attack by police now.” Normally, she says, government agencies have 20 days to respond to a FOIA request, but with an expedited request the agencies should have to respond even faster.

National Security and privacy are the only grounds for federal agencies to withhold information sought in a FOIA request, and clearly there is no national security issue involved in this protest movement, at least not in a strictly legal sense of the term. The Occupy Movement is protesting economic inequality, and the political corruption that allows the wealthiest people who run the nation's biggest banks and companies to run the country in their own interest and to run rough-shod over the broader public interest. Of course, from the perspective of the ruling elite, and from the perspective of their political lackeys in the White House and Congress, any protest movement calling for a reordering of the political system to make it more responsive to the public interest would be seen as a national security threat.

There are other avenues for learning about any federal role in the crackdowns on the Occupy Movement. In Sacramento, where police arrested dozens of local occupation activists, lawyers for the movement have included in their discovery motion information about any contacts the city or the city’s police have had with other organizations or authorities. This is an approach that should be taken by lawyers in all jurisdictions where occupation actions are attacked by police. The information derived from these legal actions could help to keep federal authorities honest in their responses to the NLG FOIA filings.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Movement is continuing to grow.

story | by Dr. Radut