From: "Allen L. Barker"
Subject: The Cops Are Watching You
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 03:41:45 -0400
FEATURE STORY | June 3, 2002
The Cops Are Watching You
by ROBERT DREYFUSS
The post-September 11 resurgence of police intelligence is too
new for there to be evidence of abuses, but recent news from
Denver, Colorado, shows what can happen. There, the ACLU
revealed in March that since 1999 the police have maintained
intelligence dossiers on 3,200 people in 208 organizations,
from globalization protesters to the American Friends Service
Committee, and from Amnesty International to the Chiapas
Coalition and the American Indian Movement. "Individuals who are not
even suspected of a crime and organizations that don't have
a criminal history are labeled criminal extremists," says Mark
Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU of Colorado.
Having spurred many states and localities into launching or
intensifying programs to monitor dissident groups, Ashcroft's Justice
Department is now supporting a series of training programs
that explicitly urge police to worry not just about Al Qaeda-style
terrorists but also about environmentalists and other troublesome
activists. The core program was launched by one of Justice's
twenty-eight Regional Community Policing Institutes, based at
Wichita State University in Kansas, which helps train police from 650
departments in Kansas and Nebraska. In its curriculum, called A
Police Response to Terrorism in the Heartland: Integrating Law
Enforcement Intelligence and Community Policing, the Wichita
institute urges police to collect information on "enemies in our own
backyard," including "the Green Movement" --described in a footnote
as "environmental activism that is aimed at political and social
reform with the explicit attempt to develop environmental-friendly
policy, law and behavior."
"We have a virtual buffet of political extremism out here," says
David Carter, a professor at the School of Criminal Justice at
Michigan State University and one of two authors of the curriculum.
Carter, an instructor at the Wichita training site, warns that the
police ought to be concerned "not just with Al Qaeda but with the
groups involved in the [World Economic Forum] protests in New
York, or the World Trade Organization protesters." Sorting out the
means to do this without violating the civil liberties of protest
groups is tricky, says Carter. "How do we balance--which is a real
conundrum--homeland security with our constitutional rights?
Which is more important? Are our rights important, if we are being
At the Justice Department, Dr. Sandra Webb, an official in the
policing institute division, tried to distance herself from Carter's
curriculum, asserting that the material used in Wichita reflects
only the opinions of the authors. But she did not disassociate the
Justice Department from it, and she said that it will be presented
this summer to representatives of all twenty-eight institutes so that
it can be made available to police departments across the country.
"We are trying to make it better known," she says. "There will be
a lot of interest."
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