- O22 Action
- Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD
- "I'm Getting Arrested" App Created for Occupy Protesters
- Guilty Until Proven Innocent
OCTOBER 22 NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
Saturday, October 22
Meet at Peavey Plaza
11th and Nicollet, downtown Minneapolis
From community members beaten, Tased and murdered with impunity to protesters spied on, beaten and arrested in the streets, police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority is a national epidemic. Stand up with survivors of police brutality. Stand up with the families of people who have been killed by police. Stand up for the right to protest and resist.
October 22 is the national day of protest against police brutality, with activities happening in dozens of cities across the country. Be part of the action in Minneapolis.
We will march and engage in copwatch at hotspots where police often harass and brutalize people. Bring a camera or pad and paper. Wear warm clothes. WEAR BLACK!
OCCUPY WALL STREET! OCCUPY MINNESOTA! WE ARE THE 99%!
A movement to reclaim this country for the 99% of people who aren't banksters and corporate fat cats has swept this country, starting on Wall Street and spreading to Main Streets in over 900 cities across the country. For our part, CUAPB has had copwatchers on the scene in downtown Minneapolis during key nodal points in the local occupation, including during last week's challenge to the anti-camping laws. While doing this, we have spotted at least a few undercover cops among the crowd.
Just as with any movement, people have to learn anew lessons from past movements and understand how these lessons apply to modern times and technologies. Here we have a snitch deciding that the OWS movement poses such a threat to the status quo that he is spying on them--spying on a movement that has it's meeting in an open park. Nonetheless, while the movement remains transparent, this kind of spying poses real dangers to the organizers involved. Let's not forget the important lessons we learned from COINTELPRO.
Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD
The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for a month. And it seems the FBI and NYPD have had help tracking protesters' moves thanks to a conservative computer security expert who gained access to one of the group's internal mailing lists, and then handed over information on the group's plans to authorities and corporations targeted by protesters.
Since the Occupy Wall Street protest began on September 17, New York security consultant Thomas Ryan has been waging a campaign to infiltrate and discredit the movement. Ryan says he's done contract work for the U.S. Army and he brags on his blog that he leads "a team called Black Cell, a team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber security professionals in the world." But over the past few weeks, he and his computer security buddies have been spending time covertly attending Occupy Wall Street meetings, monitoring organizers' social media accounts, and hanging out with protesters in Lower Manhattan.
As part of their intelligence-gathering operation, the group gained access to a listserv used by Occupy Wall Street organizers called September17discuss. On September17discuss, organizers hash out tactics and plan events, conduct post-mortems of media appearances, and trade the latest protest gossip. On Friday, Ryan leaked thousands of September17discuss emails to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is now using them to try to smear Occupy Wall Street as an anarchist conspiracy to disrupt global markets.
What may much more alarming to Occupy Wall Street organizers is that while Ryan was monitoring September17discuss, he was forwarding interesting email threads to contacts at the NYPD and FBI, including special agent Jordan T. Loyd, a member of the FBI's New York-based cyber security team.
On September 18th, the day after the protest's start, Ryan forwarded an email exchange between Occupy Wall Street organizers to Loyd. The email exchange is harmless: Organizers discuss how they need to increase union participation in the protest. "We need more outreach to workers. The best way to do that is by showing solidarity with them," writes organizer Jackie DiSalvo in the thread. She then lists a group of potential unions to work with.
Another organizer named Conor responds: "+1,000,000 to Jackie's proposal on working people/union struggles outreach and solidarity. Also, why not invite people to protest Troy Davis's execution date at Liberty Plaza this Monday?"
Five minutes after Conor sent his email, Ryan forwarded the thread--with no additional comment--to Loyd's FBI email address. "Thanks!" Loyd responded. He cc'd his colleague named Ilhwan Yum, a fellow cybersecurity expert at the agency, on the reply.
On September 26th, Ryan forwarded another email thread to Agent Loyd. But this time he clued in the NYPD as well, sending the email to Dennis Dragos, a detective with the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad.
The NYPD might have been very grateful he did so, since it involved a proposed demonstration outside NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. In the thread, organizers debated whether to crash an upcoming press conference planned by marijuana advocates to celebrate NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly ordering officers to halt arrests over possession of small amounts of marijuana.
"Should we bring some folks from Liberty Plaza to chant "SHAME" for the NYPD's recent brutalities on Thursday night for the Troy Davis and Saturday for the Occupy Wall Street march?" asked one person in the email thread. (That past Saturday, the video of NYPD officer Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying a protester had gone viral.) Ryan promptly forwarded the email thread to Loyd at the FBI and Dragos at the NYPD.
Interestingly, it was Ryan who revealed himself as a snitch. We learned of these emails from the archive Ryan leaked yesterday in the hopes of undermining the Occupy Wall Street movement. In assembling the archive of September17discuss emails, it appears he accidentally included some of his own forwarded emails indicating he was ratting out organizers.
"I don't know, I just put everything I had into one big package," Ryan said when asked how the emails ended up in the file posted to Andrew Breitbart's blog. Some security expert.
But Ryan didn't just tip off the authorities. He was also giving information to companies as well. When protesters discussed demonstrating in front of morning shows like Today and Good Morning America, Ryan quickly forwarded the thread to Mark Farrell, the chief security officer at Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal.
- Since you are the CSO, I am not sure of your role in NBC since COMCAST owns them. There is a huge protest in New York call "Occupy Wall Street". Here is an email of stunts that they will try to pull on the TODAY show.
- We have been heavily monitoring Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.
"Thanks Tom," Farrell responded. "I'll pass this to my counterpart at NBCU."
Did the FBI and/or NYPD ask him to monitor Occupy Wall Street? Was he just forwarding the emails on out of the goodness of his heart? In a phone interview with us, Ryan denied being an informant. "I do not work with the FBI," he said.
Ryan said he knows Loyd through their mutual involvement in the Open Web Application Security Project, a non-profit computer security group of which Ryan is a board member. Ryan said he sent the emails to Loyd unsolicited simply because "everyone's curious" about Occupy Wall Street, and he had a ground-eye view. "Jordan never asked me for anything."
Was he sending every email he got to the authorities? Ryan said he couldn't remember how many he'd passed on to the FBI or NYPD, or other third parties. Later he said that he only forwarded the two emails we noticed, detailed above.
But even if he'd been sending them on regularly, they were probably of limited use to the authorities. Most of the real organizing at Occupy Wall Street happens face-to-face, according to David Graeber, who was one of the earliest organizers. "We did some practical work on [the email list] at first--I think that's where I first proposed the "we are the 99%" motto--but mainly it's just an expressive forum," he wrote in an email. "No one would seriously discuss a plan to do something covert or dangerous on such a list."
But regardless of how many emails Ryan sent or whether Loyd ever asked Ryan to spy on Occupy Wall Street, Loyd was almost certainly interested in the emails he received. Loyd has helped hunt down members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous, and he and his colleagues in the FBI's cyber security squad have been monitoring their involvement in Occupy Wall Street.
At a New York cyber security conference one day before the protest began, Loyd cited Occupy Wall Street as an example of a "newly emerging threat to U.S. information systems." (In the lead-up to Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous had issued threats against the New York Stock Exchange.) He told the assembled crowd the FBI has been "monitoring the event on cyberspace and are preparing to meet it with physical security," according to a New York Institute of Technology press release.
We contacted Loyd to ask about his relationship with Ryan and if any of the information Ryan passed along was of any use to the agency. He declined to answer questions and referred us to the FBI's press office. We'll post an update if we hear back from them.
We asked Ryan again this morning about how closely he was working with the authorities. Again, he claimed it was only these two emails, which is unlikely given he forwarded them to the FBI and NYPD without providing any context or explaining where he'd gotten them.
And he detailed his rationale for assisting the NYPD:
- My respect for FDNY & NYPD stems from them risking their lives to save mine when my house was on fire in sunset park when I was 8 yrs old. Also, for them risking their lives and saving many family and friends during 9/11.
- Don't you find it Ironic that out of all the NYPD involved with the protest, [protesters] have only targeted the ones with Black Ribbons, given to them for their bravery during 9/11?
- I am sorry if we see things differently, I try to look at everything as a whole and in patterns. Everything we do in life and happens in life, there is a pattern behind it.
`I'M GETTING ARRESTED' APP CREATED FOR OCCUPY PROTESTERS
October 17, 2011
A new smartphone app bills itself as a useful tool for the hundreds of boisterous Occupy Seattle protesters at Westlake Park and other locations throughout the world.
The "I'm Getting Arrested" app, created by Quadrant 2, provides a one-click button on your phone that you can press when you know arrest is imminent.
Once you hit the big red bull's-eye, a prewritten text message will be sent to your mom, your lawyer or any other contact you might want to help you out.
The app can also be used to quickly send any other message to a group of people.
The app has a 4.5 star rating and is "free to the other 99 percent," Quadrant 2 said in its Android Market app description.
GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT
October 17, 2011
[Editor's Note: Large numbers of men of color in the Chicago area were falsely convicted of a range of serious crimes because of torture by a police unit under the command of Jon Burge. Foot-dragging by local prosecutors allowed the statute of limitations to run out and Burge was never prosecuted for crimes related to the torture but was convicted of lying to Federal investigators about it. The "Burge scandal" has resulted in many men--who spent decades in prison for crimes they didn't commit--being released. Some entered prison as teens, denying them education they need to survive outside of prison. Courts are engaged in legal gymnastics to deny payment to these men, in an attempt to limit the costs of the system's own wrongdoing. Minnesota does not have a law requiring compensation for wrongly convicted people.]
If you're convicted of a crime you didn't commit, good luck getting compensation for your time behind bars.
Take the case of Eric Caine. Last week, I wrote about Caine, a Chicago man tortured by police under the command of Lt. Jon Burge, wrongfully convicted of a double murder, and finally freed last March after 25 years of prison hell -- only to be legally screwed once again.
The latest travesty: a Cook County judge on October 12th rejected Caine's request for the certificate of innocence necessary to ensure compensation for his unjust imprisonment, a tidy sum of $199,000 that would have helped the penniless Caine start a new life.
Judge Michael McHale's interpretation of the state law governing such certificates was worthy of the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Wonderland. "Petitioner [Caine] must prove his innocence independent of the fact that the State currently has no evidence against him for the crimes for which he was originally tried," McHale opined. Caine's lawyers may ask the judge to stop reading Lewis Carroll and reconsider his decision, or file an appeal.
Unfortunately, Caine is not alone. Meet Nathson Fields.
Fields and another man were charged with a 1984 double homicide on Chicago's South Side. The trial judge, Thomas J. Maloney, didn't care whether Fields and his co-defendant were innocent. But the judge was perfectly willing to find them not guilty -- in exchange for a $10,000 bribe from the co-defendant's lawyer. The lawyer delivered the cash, and things were looking up.
Trouble was, Maloney discovered he was under investigation by the FBI and prudently returned the money. To further cover his tracks, Maloney found Fields & Co. guilty -- and sentenced them to death.
It turned out poorly for everyone. As the two men languished on Death Row, Maloney was convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion and obstruction of justice for fixing cases, and the lawyer was convicted of bribery.
The principals remained locked up until Fields won a new trial. He eventually was released on bond, breathing free air for the first time in 18 years. In 2009, a judge finally acquitted Fields in a bench trial. This time the verdict was legit.
Seeking restitution, Fields requested a certificate of innocence to qualify for the six figures he was owed under state law. The not guilty verdict convinced a Cook Co. judge to approve the certificate, and last year Fields got his check from the state.
But unhappy prosecutors appealed, and on September 30th a three-judge panel ruled that finding reasonable doubt at Field's re-trial wasn't good enough for him to collect. Now Fields will have to prove his true innocence -- or he could be forced to return the money.
Under the circumstances, what are wrongfully convicted prisoners like Eric Caine and Nathson Fields supposed to do? Confined most of their lives for crimes they did not commit, should they be saddled with law enforcement's job -- to track down the actual killers? From eight-by-twelve prison cells?
As for DNA, the magic bullet in undisputed exonerations, expecting to find it at most crime scenes is a television myth. (Sorry, CSI fans.) New alibi evidence is unlikely to emerge decades later. Recanting witnesses? Cook Co. prosecutors are threatening them with perjury for changing their stories.
Judges like Michael McHale in Caine's case, and the appellate justices in Fields' case, say they are simply following the letter of the law that compensates exonerated prisoners. Prove your innocence (or starve).
To some extent, they are right. Illinois lawmakers must amend the statute by guaranteeing funds to prisoners who are found not guilty, or whose convictions are vacated, or whose indictments are dropped. It would be inexcusable not to enact these simple remedies.
On the other hand, judges shouldn't be so quick to pass the buck. The current law recognizes that "... the court, in exercising its discretion... shall, in the interest of justice, give due consideration to difficulties of proof caused by the passage of time, the death or unavailability of witnesses, the destruction of evidence or other factors not caused by such persons or those acting on their behalf." So judges, many of whom were prosecutors (including McHale), are selectively interpreting the law.
The result is that only a handful of certificates of innocence have been approved in Cook Co., while many who should qualify are deterred from filing because of the way our state's law has been written and applied.
Nationally, the situation is worse. Only 27 states compensate innocent prisoners, and many of these states have laws with more hurdles than Illinois'.
What can you do? Plenty. Judges are elected in Illinois. If you don't believe they are acting "in the interest of justice," remember them when you go to the polls. State legislators are also elected. Support those who vote for legislation that is just. For a litmus test, tell your elected representatives about the plight of Eric Caine and Nathson Fields. More broadly, demand passage of the model legislation proposed by The Innocence Project.
Meanwhile, scream about a system that pays torturer Jon Burge his monthly $3,000 police pension while he is in prison, but robs the innocent of the restitution they deserve.