Naomi Wolf Versus Joshua Holland: Was There a Coordinated Federal Crackdown on Occupy Wall Street?
Protesters at "Occupy Wall Street" camp, Liberty Square
Photo Credit: Sarah Jaffe
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Editor's note: The following is a response to Joshua Holland's piece, "Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Offers Anything but the Truth." Holland will be responding to this article later today.
What a firestorm my Comment is Free blog post in the Guardian, "The Shocking News Behind the Crackdown on Occupy" , has unleashed: some have praised, while others have attacked . Josh Holland's criticisms of my piece, in a blog post, "Naomi Wolf's Shocking Truth about Occupy is Anything But" , was picked up the most widely of the critics' attacks. But the criticisms Holland poses are poorly grounded.
Holland's main premise is that I am part of a "flurry of speculation" that is without basis in fact, and that there was no federal involvement in the crackdown. I cited evidence that DHS was on the 18-member conference call of mayors, which Oakland Mayor Jean Quan alluded to in an interview with the BBC on 15 November, and my source was Wonkette on 15 November . Holland argues that his assertion to contrary has been qualified , and I am happy to adjust the citation accordingly.
But Holland is seriously mistaken in reaching his premature conclusion that there is no evidence of DHS or federal participation in the crackdown, and for attacking me for having asserted the connection: "Mayors in a handful of cities," he concludes, "responding to local political pressures, decided to break up their local occupations – decisions that were announced to the press well in advance – and were advised as to how best to do so."
He is wrong on many counts. My evidence for federal coordination with local police exceeds the Wonkette citation, which was not, in fact, the basis of my confidence in writing about this coordination in the crackdown. I relied, rather, on many other sources of evidence. Among them, I was relying on what NYPD told me itself. I am certain that NYPD coordinates with federal authorities in OWS-related arrests because an NYPD official informed me that they did so through the bars of my cell, as part of his formal warning to me before my release, apparently to deter me from activities that might result in my rearrest. As I reported in the Guardian on 19 October 2011 , part of the seventh precinct sergeant's caution to me about what could happen to me if I was arrested again, if I "rejoined [my] friends the protesters", was a threat based on his assertion of federal coordination with the arrests. He told me that in a second arrest, I would be photographed and fingerprinted, and the data fed into a federal database, to follow me forever. My partner, Avram Ludwig, confirmed that he was given the same warning about his data being fed into a federal database in the event of a future arrest.
Holland is more dangerously wrong in insisting on his conclusion of merely local police response – without reporting on what DHS is doing right now in response to the FOIA requests by many organisations about its possible involvement in the OWS crackdown. Holland should be aware that DHS, as of this writing, is not denying all involvement in response to the FOIA requests. Rather, the agency is on record as taking a legal position that appears to reflect some possible participation, at least at staff levels below the senior one: as Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the DC Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, wrote to me yesterday:
"We have filed FOIA demands with multiple federal agencies seeking public release of information related to coordination of the Occupy Crackdown. It is not credible for the federal agencies to suggest that they have no involvement in (and are somehow not paying attention to) law enforcement response to the Occupy movement both on a tactical and political level.