The earliest evidence that federal authorities in the United States were aware of Occupy Wall Street and preparing to squash it comes from a September 1 Department of Homeland Security briefing. Warning of an upcoming protest on Wall Street, the leaked memo explained that the unique conjunction of culture jammers with politicized hackers was cause for alarm. “The ideologies set forth by Adbusters seem to align at a basic level with the stated intent of Anonymous’ newly adopted Hacktivist agenda … These protests are highly likely to occur,” the report declared. We also know now that the FBI was investigating Occupy at least two days before occupiers seized Zuccotti. In a leaked chat log Sabu, an FBI informant and prominent member of LulzSec, a hacktivist affinity group, pumped for information about Anonymous’s plans for Occupy. He is recorded asking: “Lets talk about OpWallStreet. I plan on going to Wall Street, do we have anything planned?” Shortly after, despite these counterintelligence efforts, Occupy Wall Street was born and Zuccotti Park became the spiritual center of an international movement.
Now, as the international movement gears up for a major escalation in May with myriad big bangs – a May Day General Strike, anarchic swarms in #OCCUPYCHICAGO, an international blast on May 12 and an effort to retake the squares on May 15, a #LAUGHRIOT on May 18, #OCCUPYCAMPDAVID the next day along with major protests against NATO on May 20 and 21 – stories of aggressive intimidation tactics are beginning to emerge from New York City. In a recent article in the New York Times, occupiers described frequent harassment and interrogation by NYPD intelligence and FBI: “police officers or detectives have been posted outside buildings where private meetings were taking place, have visited the homes of organizers and have questioned protesters arrested on minor charges … one protester says he was questioned by a police detective and an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Meanwhile, authorities are demanding access to the Twitter accounts of prominent occupiers like Jeff Rae and logs of occupy websites. And in Florida, Occupy Miami was raided without cause by paramilitary police on March 13.
On reddit, one activist argued the situation is far worse than is being reported in the news, claiming to have encountered:”DHS bugging of common meeting grounds; DHS paying individuals to attend our meetings and cause disruption; police breaking into property, creating fire hazards, then getting protestors living there evicted for said fire hazard; police breaking into private property and installing surveillance equipment in people’s homes. In at least one instance they left it obvious enough to leave a message; police arresting individuals solely to have them identify photographs of other occupiers; manipulating our personal bank accounts, such as canceling our access to our own accounts.”
Taken together with news of the authoritarian new law H.R. 347, these sinister stories suggest that authorities in the United States are preparing to aggressively disrupt Occupy’s May spring offensive.
Weigh in below and tell us how you think the movement can outmaneuver these authoritarian efforts to shut down our people-power.