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Nov. 16, 2011

President Obama's "position" regarding the NYPD's raid of Zuccotti Park, is that "every municipality has to make its own decision about how to handle" the issues of free speech and the concerns of the community. But according to Rick Ellis at the Examiner, a Justice Department official says that the recent evictions of Occupy movement across the country including Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland, Oakland, and New York City were "coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies."

Ellis reports that his source says though the decision to evict protesters ultimately rested with each individual jurisdiction, the local police departments "had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies" from the feds.

Oakland's mayor Jean Quan told the BBC yesterday that she had participated in a conference call with the leaders of 18 other cities to discuss their shared "situation where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment no longer in control by the people who started them."

Mother Jones reports that the US Conferences of Mayors has stated that two conference calls, one on October 13, the morning before the aborted raid on Zuccotti Park, and the second on November 10, were held with "mayors and police top brass." They discussed "issues of concern" and how to "maintain public health and safety" during the occupations. The USCM official "denied that there was any coordination or planning between mayors and police officials about breaking up Occupy protests or tearing down encampments." Mayor Bloomberg denies participating in these conference calls.

The AP reports that another set of conference calls on October 11 and November 14 were organized by the Police Executive Research Forum and included representatives from 40 different cities. A spokesman for the group said that the timing of the calls were "completely spontaneous" and had nothing to do with the recent raids. "This was an attempt to get insight on what other departments were doing." Including the maxim: "Don't set a midnight deadline to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters, it will only give a crowd of demonstrators time to form."

In our recent interview with Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights attorney and current Salon columnist, we asked him a question regarding the expanding powers of the federal government.

Typically, new powers are often applied in ways that people will feel comfortable with. So if the government wants to restrict speech they will pick the most hated person in the society and restrict their speech and nobody will care...The problem is that these things proliferate far beyond their original applications, in every instance that's true. Historically, that's how power functions.

According to a Presidential directive issued by George W. Bush in 2003, the DHS's responsibility is to "develop all-hazards plans and capabilities, including those of greatest importance to the security of the United States homeland, such as the prevention of terrorist attacks and preparedness for the potential use of weapons of mass destruction, and ensure that state, local, and federal plans are compatible." Is assisting to coordinate the eviction of mostly-peaceful protests what the DHS was designed to do?