ACLU reveals mass of surveillance data on First Amendment activities
Boston police have been caught red-handed spying on citizens engaged in lawful, protest activities. Documents and surveillance videos show local law enforcement routinely monitoring demonstrations and "internal dynamics" of activists groups, even if there is no indication of criminal activity.
The ACLU cites a specific report detailing an anti-war rally at a congregational church featuring the late Boston University Professor Howard Zinn, former city councilor Felix D. Arroyo and war activist Cindy Sheehan. The document was categorized under the label: "Criminal Act: Groups-Extremist."According to a press release from the ACLU:
The documents reveal that officers assigned to the Boston Police Department's regional domestic spying center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), file so-called "intelligence reports" mischaracterizing peaceful groups such as Veterans for Peace, United for Justice with Peace and CodePink as "extremists," and peaceful protests as domestic "homeland security" threats and civil disturbances."The collection of information by BPD contributes to Homeland Security fusion centers storing of details on constitutionally-protected activities being engaged in by citizens", writes Kevin Gosztola for Firedoglake. The officers are said to monitor activities such as "protestors plans to 'pass out fliers promoting their cause,'" and document communication "between officers from BRIC and the Metro DC Intelligence Section during which the officials discuss how many activists from the Northeast attended a Washington, DC peace rally."