More on Police Departments' Collusion in Defense of 1%: Who's the Organization Coordinating Those Crackdown Calls?
Interesting report this evening in the San Francisco Bay Guardian suggesting that big city mayors have not been the only ones making conference calls in an effort to coordinate crackdowns on Occupy Movement encampments:
...a little-known but influential private membership based organization has placed itself at the center of advising and coordinating the crackdown on the encampments. The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. The group has distributed a recently published guide on policing political events....
The coordination of political crackdowns on the Occupy movement has been conducted behind closed doors, with city officials and PERF refusing to say how many cities participated in the conference calls and the exact nature of the discussions. Reports of at least a dozen cities and some indication of as many as 40 accepting PERF advice and/or strategic documents include San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Portland [Oregon], Oakland, Atlanta, and Washington DC....PERF coordinated a November 10 conference call with city police chiefs across the country – and many of these cities undertook crackdowns shortly afterward.
We can take an educated guess at "the exact nature of the discussions" by looking at the leadership of the Police Executive Research Forum:
PERF’s current and former directors read as a who's who of police chiefs involved in crackdowns on anti-globalization and political convention protesters resulting in thousands of arrests, hundreds of injuries, and millions of dollars paid out in police brutality and wrongful arrest lawsuits.
These current and former U.S. police chiefs -- along with top ranking police union officials and representatives from Canadian and British police -- have been marketing to municipal police forces and politicians their joint experiences as specialists on policing mass demonstrations.
Chairing PERF's board of directors is Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Washington D.C. Metro Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who was responsible for coordinating the police response to protests against international banking institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those protests, and Ramsey's response to massive anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC in the lead up the the Iraq War, often resulted in preemptive mass arrest of participants that were later deemed to be unconstitutional.
Ramsey's predecessor as organization chair is former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who is responsible for the so called “Miami Model,” coined after the police crackdown on the 2003 Free Trade Agreement of the Americas protest. The police response to protesters in Miami lead to hundreds of injuries to protesters. The ACLU won multiple suits against the Miami P.D. over abuse to protesters and free speech concerns....Timoney arrived in Miami with plenty of baggage. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Timoney coordinated a crackdown that resulted in more than 420 arrests with only 13 convictions, none of which resulted in jail time. As in Miami, there was well documented abuse of some of the people arrested.
Also among PERF's directors is Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan, who was responsible for the crackdown on protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention. That event also resulted in lawsuits, protester injuries and an outcry from the national press about police brutality and the preemptive nature of the police action.
PERF has also been sharing its expertise other ways:
As the occupation movement grew, PERF began circulating a publication titled Managing Major Events: Best Practices from the Field. The manual...amounts to a how-to guide for policing political events, and gives special attention to policing “Anarchists” and “Eco Terrrorists” at political events.
The guide encourages the use of undercover officers and snatch squads to “grab the bad guys and remove them from the crowd.” It urges local law enforcement to use social media to map the Occupy movement.
An earlier PERF guide, Police Management of Mass Demonstrations, advocates the use of embedded media to control police messages, the use of undercover cops to infiltrate protest groups, the use and pitfalls of preemptive mass arrest, an examination of the use of less-than-lethal crowd control weapons, and general discussion weighing the use of force in crowd control.
Dollars to cop donuts this just scratches the surface of the sort of back-channel, hidden-from-public-view communications that have been triggered by the alarming - to some - emergence of the Occupy movement as a force with which much of the American public sympathizes. In addition to a political (mayors) and law enforcement (PERF) response, undoubtedly there is a communications strategy unfolding, too, and fine journalistic efforts such as those Booman cites are likely a product of it. Certainly they all sound oddly similar.
The ante in all of these arenas has been upped considerably in the last week, with camp evictions and police confrontations across the country. In general, thanks to images like this, those crackdowns have not played well with much of the public and likely have only redoubled the determination of protesters. Following on actions marking Thursday's two-month anniversary of the original Zuccotti Park occupation, Saturday is planned as yet another day of widespread actions. It will be interesting to see whether cities and police pull back, fearing a PR backlash, or double down on the repression.
If history teaches us anything, it's that the repression can get a lot worse. As Glenn Greenwald noted astutely today,
Law enforcement officials and policy-makers in America know full well that serious protests — and more — are inevitable given the economic tumult and suffering the U.S. has seen over the last three years (and will continue to see for the foreseeable future). A country cannot radically reduce quality-of-life expectations, devote itself to the interests of its super-rich, and all but eliminate its middle class without triggering sustained citizen fury.
The reason the U.S. has paramilitarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution.
Put another way: "Dancing With the Stars" can only keep so many people anesthetized for so long. Or, as Gandhi described it, in a situation where people knew they'd been colonized: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they crack down..."
We know what happens after that.