Reprinted from Huffington Post
Once-secret documents reveal the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics.
"We can see decade after decade with each social justice movement that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the FBI documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
In a 15-minute interview on Democracy Now!, Verheyden-Hilliard highlighted the most shocking information learned from the documents.
"The documents show that the FBI and American intelligence agencies were monitoring and reporting on Occupy Wall Street before the first tent even went up in Zuccotti Park. The documents that we have been able to obtain show the FBI communicating with the New York Stock Exchange in August of 2011 about the upcoming Occupy demonstrations, about plans for the protests," Verheyden-Hilliard says. "It shows them meeting with or communicating with private businesses. And throughout the materials, there is repeated evidence of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, American intelligence agencies really working as a private intelligence arm for corporations, for Wall Street, for the banks, for the very entities that people were rising up to protest against."
The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities.
There is a lot more to learn says Verheyden-Hilliard: "The documents are heavily redacted. There is a lot of material that, on the pages themselves, we cannot see. And the documents also, in terms of the breadth and scope of the production, we believe that there is a lot more that's being withheld. Even when you go through the text of the documents, you can see that there's a lot more in terms of meetings and memos that must exist. And we are filing an appeal to demand and fight for more material to be released."
"And whether [Occupy} is in hibernation right now, it is based on an organic reality of the economic situation in the United States," says Verheyden-Hilliard. "And the FBI is referencing the high level of unemployment, the needs that people have, and it's a recognition, too, of the dynamism and the dynamic nature of the people of the United States, the people all over the world, when they organize and come together. That's the threat that we believe the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are truly focused on, not a threat of violence."