This coming Monday basically marks the one-year anniversay of the first Occupy encampment on Wall Street in New York City. Shortly thereafter, Occupy Oakland grew into one of the most active encampments in the country.The ACLU now says it has received documents that basically confirm what a lot of people have suspected, that the federal government has been keeping a watchful eye on Occupy.
Newly-laid sod outside Oakland City Hall is being carefully tended to as part of the efforts to repair Frank Ogawa Plaza since Occupy Oakland demonstrators were evicted. On the sidewalk, a group of artists has filled in a chalk illustration commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement.
Since the demonstrations began, the ACLU of Northern California has been concerned with how the FBI monitored Occupy. "So, the FBI produced an initial set of documents that gave us a whopping 13 pages which were relatively unexceptional," ACLU staff attorney Linda Lye told ABC7 News. According to the pages that were released, the FBI was mostly concerned with mass demonstrations that targeted the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport.
"Iit's understandable that law enforcement agencies want to be aware of planned civil disobedience, the response has to be commensurate and appropriate," Lye said. However, the FBI is not releasing 24 other pages about monitoring Occupy Oakland. The agency cites the safety of confidential informants and national security reasons. "We're very curious about the information that the FBI has withheld and we're very troubled by the justification that it's a national security issue," Lye said.
The FBI issued a brief statement that reads in part, "The FBI abides by strict guidelines set forth by the U.S. attorney general." Also, a spokesperson referred ABC7 News to a field guide that spells out the agency's ability to monitor any effort aimed at shutting down a shipping port or airport.
One member of Occupy said she was not surprised to hear their group has been monitored by federal agents. "There is always government surveillance of movements and historically that's what's going on. There's a constant repression of people trying to push back against the status quo, against the way things are," CiCi said.
According to the documents, the FBI would not engage with the Occupy Oakland group. Instead, they dispatch information to local police agencies and security details at the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport.