The Feds Definitely Spied on the Occupy Fort Lauderdale Movement, New Documents Show
Looking back two years later, Occupy Wall Street now looks like one big social justice sparkler: it cooked hot and bright before going dark quick. But in those heady days of 2011, it seemed downtowns across the country were clogged with folks aiming ire at the bad guys in business suits. That sentiment has largely been put back in the holster; in terms of cultural relevance, unfortunately Occupy is probably only a year away from retro Urban Outfitter t-shirt status.
But before we lay down the final ink on that chapter of history, there are still open questions - specifically, how far Uncle Sam went to monitor and infiltrate Occupy groups.
A recently released stack of secret government docs show that, yup, the Department of Homeland Security was in fact spying on demonstrators, including in Broward and Miami-Dade.
The records come from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. The request, made to the Department of Homeland Security in July 2012, went fishing for information "related to law enforcement involvement in discussions, communications, and technical support regarding" the movement. The government didn't have over the records until March 2013. The heavily-redacted 600-plus pages include DHS reports on OWS activity.
Sure, a lot of people assumed Uncle Sam was keeping tabs on Occupy, but here's the unsettling detail of how it went down.
The stack includes two references to local demonstrations, both in October 2011. On October 22, Occupy Fort Lauderdale held a demonstration at 11:00 am at the Federal courthouse downtown. Below is a video capturing the action.
Apparently, the Federal Protective Service (which falls under DHS' umbrella) was also watching. An unknown employee filed a narrative report on the event:
On October 22, 2011 at proximately 11:16 on hours at US District Courthouse, FLUOBBZZ, located at 299 East Broward Boulevard Fort Lauderdale Florida an "occupy Fort Lauderdale" demonstration took place in support of the "occupy Wall street" demonstration and to protest the current economic conditions and corporate greed. The demonstration had no designated leader/organizer this time. At its largest point there were approximately 80 demonstrators in attendance. Demonstrators were peaceful and follow the directions of the physical security guard when instructed to remain on the cobble stone sidewalk and of federal property. The demonstration at the courthouse lasted until about 12:00 hours where it moved across the street under Fort Lauderdale PD escort.
Fort Lauderdale PD did not have to deploy addition units, aside from their regular duty officers. There was no media coverage, except for the cameras used buy the demonstrators.