- Happy Birthday, Drop the Charges--Protest Against Susan Gaertner
- Solidarity Born of Love: Panel Discussion
- Human Rights Day Vigil and Protest
- CUAPB's Annual Survivor, Family and Friends Dinner
- Leaked Docs Outline Command Structure and Military Involvement in RNC Repression
- Cops and Obama Election
- FBI informant exposed as neo-Nazi rally organizer in Florida
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DROP THE CHARGES!
Ramsey County prosecuter Susan Gaertner has aspirations to be the next governor of Minnesota. This could explain why she is working hand in glove with Sheriff Bob Fletcher, police chief John Harrington and others to prosecute a large number of people on felony charges in the aftermath of the RNC (not to mention the convenient cover it gives for the excessive force used by police). Many of these charges came out of the Shepard Road incident in which police surrounded a large group of people who were just trying to get to the concert on Harriet Island or hanging out in the park and randomly charged people with felonies (there's a scene on this in the film Terrorizing Dissent which you can view at www.terrorizingdissent.org). She is also the driving force behind the prosecution of the RNC 8, eight community organizers who are charged with felony "conspiracy to riot in the furtherance of terrorism." It appears that Gaertner is trying--shamefully--to build a political career off the backs of activists.
This Tuesday, December 2, Gaertner will be holding a fundraiser for her campaign. The day also happens to be her birthday. Given her ambitions and her role in prosecuting people she KNOWS are innocent, this power-mad politico should get no peace wherever she goes. She needs to feel the repercussions of going forward with bogus prosecutions. Join us at a powerful demonstration to tell her, "happy birthday, now drop all the charges!"
Protest Against Susan Gaertner
Tuesday, December 2
729 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis
Bring noisemakers, signs and all your friends!
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
Solidarity Born of Love: A panel on political prosecution and incarceration, from the perspective of family and friends
Sunday, December 7, 7:30 p.m.
2615 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
$5-15 suggested donation, all proceeds go towards prisoner support (no one turned away for lack of funds)
When the State targets people for harassment, prosecution and incarceration, they do more than repress individuals. Friends, family, and loved ones are punished, entire communities are disrupted and immeasurable strains are imposed on those who care about these targets of state repression. Panel members Jenny Esquivel (partner of Green Scare prisoner Eric McDavid), Aaron Zellhoefer (of SHAC 7 prisoner Kevin Kjonaas' support committee), Fred Peterson (husband of political prisoner Sara Jane Olson), and Leslie James Pickering (former ELF spokesperson) will discuss these effects. This discussion is particularly timely, with 21 felony cases resulting from the recent RNC in St. Paul.
Human Rights Day Vigil: Orange Jumpsuit Solidarity for Human Rights Day
Wednesday, December 10, 4:30 p.m.
Marshall/Lake Street Bridge
The Anti-War Committee calls for supporters to join the weekly protest sponsored by the Twin Cities Peace Campaign - Focus on Iraq and Women Against Military Madness. December 10th is the date for Human Rights Day which is seen internationally as a day to highlight human rights abuses such as the US' war on Iraq and prisoner abuse. Sponsored by the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and WAMM.
Human Rights Day Protest
Saturday, December 13
Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
The Anti-War Committee will hold its annual Human Rights Day demonstration to mark the US' human rights abuses in Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, the US itself, and other places across the globe. We will have an outdoor rally, followed by a march through Powderhorn, and it will end with a rally indoors at Walker Church. Endorsed by: Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Minnesota Tenants Union, Minnesota-New Orleans Solidarity Committee, Maria Iñamagua Campaign for Justice,National Lawyers Guild (MN), Minnesota Ad-Hoc Committe to Enforce the Human Rights Treaties, Living Wage Avengers, sds - U of MN, Women Against Military Madness, and Welfare Rights Committee.
Mark Your Calendars!
CUAPB's Annual Survivor, Family and Friends Dinner
Saturday, December 20, 6:00 p.m.
Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Every year we host an event to give thanks to people we've worked with through the year and to give survivors and family members a chance to meet each other in a supportive social setting. This year, we are so grateful for all of the wonderful people we have worked with throughout the RNC and in work related to the many cases that have come to us through the hotline. We want to celebrate these relationships and this work with a big ol' dinner party for our friends!
This event is FREE--it is not a fundraiser, but a FUN raiser! Join us for great food (including vegan options), musical entertainment and fellowship.
LEAKED DOCUMENTS OUTLINE COMMAND STRUCTURE AND MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN RNC REPRESSION
Leave it to our skillful friend Tom Burghardt to get to the bottom of what all of us who have felt the boot of police-state repression during the RNC have wondered: who was really behind the clamp down? This article gives us the answer. Check out the documents that are linked in the article. The command center's seating chart is telling--with five chairs going to Northcom, the military's new northern command which oversees as many as 10,000 troops to be used against US citizens. There were also chairs for Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, QWEST, Sprint and AT&T, all of whom have partnered with the feds by turning over their customer's private records (and got immunity from the Bush regime and Congress). Seems they're still in bed with the feds. Think about that next time you buy a cell phone.
Preemptive Policing & the National Security State: Repressing Dissent at the Republican National Convention
by Tom Burghardt / November 19th, 2008
With “preemptive policing” all the rage in Washington, the whistleblowing website Wikileaks has done it again, exposing how repressive trends in the U.S. had real world consequences for democracy during September’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul, Minnesota.
On November 15, the global whistleblowers published a leaked planning document “Special Event Planning: 2008 Republican National Convention,” a dense schematic used by repressors who targeted activists, journalists and concerned citizens during the far-right conclave.
Labeled “Limited Distribution/For Official Use Only,” Wikileaks believes that the dossier is “potentially legally significant due to upcoming legal cases over the mass arrests at the convention.”
Compiled by Terri Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) the Branch Director for Response, Recovery and Mitigation at the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency (HSEM), the 31-page file offers a veritable bird’s-eye view onto the close coordination amongst federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Pentagon’s U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) during a so-called National Special Security Event (NSSE).
The enabling authority for squelching dissent during NSSEs is partially derived from the 2006 National Security Presidential Directive-46/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-15 (NSPD-46/HSPD-15), a top secret dictate from President Bush.
According to a statement by Roger Rufe, Director of the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), before the House Homeland Security Committee on July 9, 2008, NSSEs “are significant domestic or international events, occurrences, contests, activities, or meetings, which, by virtue of their profile or status, represent a significant target, and therefore warrant additional preparation, planning, and mitigation efforts. The designation process for NSSEs is established by NSPD-46/HSPD-15, Annex II and HSPD-7.”
Rufe goes on to describe the “mission” of an NSSE Special Event Working Group (SEWG) as one which will
…support a unified interagency planning and coordination effort for Special Events and to ensure coordination of Federal support to the designated event. The SEWG identifies events that may require a coordinated Federal response and collectively coordinates Federal assets to bridge any capability gaps identified by state and local partners that have not already been addressed by exhausting local mutual assistance agreements. Within this process, the mission of OPS is to act on behalf of the Secretary and his HSPD-5 responsibilities to integrate DHS and interagency planning and coordinate operations for designated Special Events in order to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorist threats/attacks. (Roger Rufe, “Statement,” House Homeland Security Committee, July 8, 2008, pp. 1-2)
Several elements comprise the SEWG: five senior managers from DHS’ OPS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Secret Service (USSS), and the DHS Office of Risk Management & Analysis (RMA) and, as revealed in the Wikileaks document, representatives from the Pentagon’s U.S. Northern Command.
During the RNC, the “lead federal agencies” heading up repressive operations were the USSS, FBI and FEMA. On Saturday, August 30, 2008, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department executed search warrants on three houses. According to the Friends of the RNC 8, the police seized personal items and arrested eight RNC Welcoming Committee organizers, charging them with “conspiracy to riot in the 2nd degree in the furtherance of terrorism,” a felony which may land these activists in prison for many years under provisions of Minnesota’s PATRIOT Act.
During the RNC, operations were coordinated by the Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC), described in the Wikileaks file as “a centralized communications and coordination center operated 24 hours a day during the NSSE.”
In St. Paul, the MACC was “staffed by representatives from all participating operational security entities, local government operations, and public and private institutions who are responsible for the critical infrastructures of power, gas and telecommunications.”
MACC’s “Work Product,” according to the document (p. 14), will provide: “Timely dissemination of information to all entities participating in operational security, crisis management, and consequence management. Provide the Common Operational Picture to support decision-making and command and control activities,” and “serve as the centralized coordination center for security-related activities.”
Described as “the coordination point where these resources could be used for a crisis or consequence outside of the NSSE,” the MACC was the organizational hub and speartip where federal, state, local law enforcement and “private institutions” interacted “at any time during the event to utilize the event’s public safety resources to assure that the normal delivery of public safety responses from their agency were uninterrupted.”
A perusal of the “MACC Seating Chart” (p. 16) affords additional insight into the resources brought to bear against journalists covering the RNC and citizens protesting the crimes of the Republican party and their Bushist minions.
The first tier is comprised of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN DOT), Minnesota State Police (MSP), Hennepin County, Ramsey County, St. Paul Police Department (SPPD), USSS and the FBI.
The second tier, in addition to representatives from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Service personnel, are staffed by three representatives from NORTHCOM. Additional NORTHCOM “seats” appear on the “third tier” of the HSEM chart, along with proxies from the Minnesota National Guard’s Joint Task Force (JTF-MN), FEMA, USSS and the FBI.
MACC’s fourth tier was staffed by a host of federal law enforcement entities including officers from the ultra-spooky National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As I have documented in several articles, most recently on November 9, NGA provides mapping tools and imagery intelligence (IMINT) derived from America’s fleet of military spy satellites “flown” by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). In other words during the RNC, America’s spymasters were providing satellite intelligence to federal, state, and local law enforcement, some of which quite possibly, were used to target the homes of activists and media workers or coordinate attacks on demonstrations.
While there is no indication in the MACC “seating chart” that the National Security Agency (NSA) was directly involved in providing “lead federal agencies” with signals intelligence (SIGINT), the fifth tier reveals that U.S. telecoms, all of whom are NSA private partners in warrantless wiretapping and driftnet data-mining were “present and accounted for” during the RNC.
Indeed, prominent places “at the table” were filled by Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, QWEST, Sprint and AT&T. Attorneys involved in defending the RNC 8 and other protesters “preemptively” arrested, would be well-advised to subpoena these company’s records and determine whether or not corporate telecoms handed SIGINT over to federal, state and local repressors.
The Wikileaks dossier also reveals that Saint Paul Operations Center Command Posts were staffed by an entity labeled “other federal.” Here one finds the FBI’s Joint Operations Center (JOC) and the Bureau’s Intelligence Operations Center (IOC).
Both entities have been linked during NSSEs and the surreptitious surveillance of Americans to privacy-killing FBI “packet sniffing” operations formally called Carnivore (DCS-1000). Now called Red Hook or DCS-3000, software installed on America’s telephone, internet and wireless infrastructure can monitor all of a target’s internet, wireless and text messaging traffic. Digital Storm, or DCS-6000, captures and collects the content of phone calls and text messages, while Magic Lantern is a keystroke surveillance tool that can be installed remotely via viral e-mail attachments. Wired reported in 2007, that Magic Lantern is a “computer and internet protocol address verifier or CIPAV,” one that…gathers a wide range of information, including the computer’s IP address; MAC address; open ports; a list of running programs; the operating system type, version and serial number; preferred internet browser and version; the computer’s registered owner and registered company name; the current logged-in user name and the last-visited URL.
The CIPAV then settles into a silent “pen register” mode, in which it lurks on the target computer and monitors its internet use, logging the IP address of every computer to which the machine connects for up to 60 days. (Kevin Poulsen, “FBI’s Secret Spyware Tracks Down Teen Who Made Bomb Threats,” Wired, July 18, 2007)
According to documents released to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2007, the Minneapolis Field Office was one of 57 sites for the Bureau’s collection of “post-cut through dialed digit information.” Technological heavy-lifting originated from the FBI’s Science & Technology Law Unit, Engineering Research Facility located in Quantico, Virginia.
As security expert, whistleblower and CEO of Bat Blue Corporation Babak Pasdar disclosed in a sworn affidavit to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) back in February, Verizon Communications allowed the Bureau and other security agencies virtually “unfettered” access to the carrier’s wireless network via the FBI’s so-called “Quantico circuit.”
Collectively, these highly-intrusive (and patently illegal) FBI programs are called DCSNet, an acronym for Digital Collection System Network. As Wired revealed in 2007, DCSNet “connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line operators, internet-telephony providers and cellular companies. It is is far more intricately woven into the nation’s telecom infrastructure than observers suspected.”
The profound interconnections amongst federal security agencies such as the FBI and the nation’s private telecoms acting in concert with securocrats is but one indicator of the breadth and scope of America’s high-tech corporatist police state.
The network allows an FBI agent in New York, for example, to remotely set up a wiretap on a cell phone based in Sacramento, California, and immediately learn the phone’s location, then begin receiving conversations, text messages and voicemail pass codes in New York. With a few keystrokes, the agent can route the recordings to language specialists for translation.
The numbers dialed are automatically sent to FBI analysts trained to interpret phone-call patterns, and are transferred nightly, by external storage devices, to the bureau’s Telephone Application Database, where they’re subjected to a type of data mining called link analysis.
FBI endpoints on DCSNet have swelled over the years, from 20 “central monitoring plants” at the program’s inception, to 57 in 2005, according to undated pages in the released documents. By 2002, those endpoints connected to more than 350 switches. (Ryan Singel, “Point, Click … Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates,” Wired, August 29, 2007)
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed that the FBI no longer feels compelled to obtain judicial oversight or even the consent of cell phone operators when deploying base station-faking technology that it employs for the illegal geolocation of mobile users.
Known as Triggerfish, documents obtained by the ACLU in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department, detail how the technology pretends to be a cellular base station to which handsets connect and identify themselves. By claiming to have “lost” the unique identifier of a targeted mobile phone, Triggerfish then “asks” the phone to resend its unique details.
It had been assumed that a warrant was necessary before the Bureau could begin tracking an individual’s cell phone. However, as the ACLU clearly reveals in the documents, under provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the FBI has been able to obtain dodgy pen-trap orders from all-too-compliant judges on the FISA court. During the RNC, these signals were probably routed via Triggerfish to the JOC/IOC: game over for “Text Mob” protest organizers.
When federal, state and local law enforcement entities raided the homes of activists and media workers in St. Paul, the Bureau knew which activists and which computers, cell phones and other electronic devices to preemptively seize.
On August 30, 2008, the FBI were joined by some 30 St. Paul police armed with tasers, pepper spray and automatic weapons when they surrounded the house where I-Witness Video and Democracy Now! journalist Elizabeth Press were meeting.
People inside were forcibly detained and photographed, while police made a record of the journalists’ names and addresses. A warrant was served, covering all the journalist’s equipment, including privileged notes, computers, cameras, video tapes and communications equipment.
Five other members of I-Witness Video who were not present during the home invasion were detained for more than three hours, preventing them from documenting three other simultaneous raids in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Additionally, members of the Glass Bead Collective were also illegally detained and had their notes and equipment confiscated by the Minneapolis police.
The Wikileaks document also reveals that the Defense Department’s Joint Task Force Minnesota (JTF-MN) was a key player in the St. Paul Command Operations Center. Indeed, Major Jon Dotterer, the Operations Officer attached to JTF-MN documented in a Power Point presentation, “As many of you may have scene [sic] on the news the MN National Guard was used in support of the St Paul Police Department at the Republican National Convention. Our QRF [Quick Reaction Force] was used to give the local police forces the flexibility and freedom to use their assets at other critical points of interest.”
Dotterer’s briefing details how JTF-MN “coordinates with civil authorities,” primarily HSEM, and “provides [a] response element” and “activates for [a] major contingency.” What Dotterer doesn’t reveal is that JTF-MN is also an active component of U.S. Northern Command.
To conclude, the Wikileaks document provides new and startling information how federal, state and local law enforcement entities acting in concert with corporatist “private partners” during September’s Republican National Convention, conspired to deny American’s their right to peacefully protest against the far-right Republican party.
With resources drawn from the FBI, USSS, DHS, NGA, FEMA and NORTHCOM, the repressive capitalist state coordinated its response to oppositional currents in the U.S. by launching preemptive attacks on RNC protest organizers and journalists.
Fully in step with the “countersubversive” mind-set underpinning the Bushist “war on terror,” one that equates dissent with terrorism, recourse to preemptive policing by our corporatist masters is indicative of the precarious state of a system facing total crisis as it stares into an abyss of its creation.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.
COPS AND OBAMA ELECTION
In the last few weeks, our hotline has seen a major increase in calls with a common thread being cops saying things about president-elect Barack Obama while they beat the person. In a very recent incident, Minneapolis police broke into the family home of a woman with three disabled teens and beat the entire family, breaking the nose of one of the teens when he could not get his arms behind him due to his disability. They also shot both family dogs--one a service animal for one of the teens. Throughout the beating, they kept asking if Obama would be proud of them and referred to both the family members and president-elect Obama using the "n" word.
Hate incidents in U.S. surge; Election seen as factor behind revival of Klan
November 23, 2008
White extremists lash out over election of first black president The Ku Klux Klan is emerging from decades of disorganization and obscurity, and the turnaround is acutely evident -- more than 200 hate-related incidents have been reported since the Nov. 4 election.
By Howard Witt
Reporting from Bogalusa, La. -- Barely three weeks since America elected its first black president, noose hangings, racist graffiti and death threats have struck dozens of towns across the country.
More than 200 such incidents -- including cross burnings, assassination betting pools and effigies of President-elect Barack Obama -- have been reported, according to law enforcement authorities and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Racist websites have been boasting that their servers have been crashing because of an exponential increase in traffic.
And America's most potent symbol of racial hatred, the Ku Klux Klan, is reasserting itself in a spate of recent violence, after decades of disorganization and obscurity.
Nearly two weeks ago, the leader of a cell based in Bogalusa, La. -- a backwoods town once known as the Klan capital -- was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of a woman who allegedly sought to become a member but then changed her mind.
Late last month, two men with ties to a notoriously violent Klan chapter in Kentucky were charged in a bizarre plot to kill 88 black students and then decapitate an additional 14 students -- and then assassinate Obama by shooting him from a speeding car while wearing white tuxedos and top hats.
"We've seen everything from cross burnings on lawns of interracial couples to effigies of Obama hanging from nooses to unpleasant exchanges in schoolyards," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala. "I think we're in a worrying situation right now, a perfect storm of conditions coming together that could easily favor the continued growth of these groups."
Experts attribute the racist activity to factors including the rapidly worsening economic crisis; trends indicating that within a generation whites will not comprise a U.S. majority; and the impending arrival of a black family in the White House.
The FBI is investigating whether the recent Klan-related incidents involve conspiracies. And the Secret Service is monitoring the racist activity "to try to stay ahead of any emerging threats," according to spokesman Darrin Blackford.
One white supremacist leader, describing himself as moderate, professes alarm.
"There is a tremendous backlash" to Obama's election, said Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement in Learned, Miss. "My focus is to try to keep it peaceful. But many people look at the flag of the Republic of New Africa that will be hoisted over the White House as an act of war."
The FBI has no hate-crime statistics yet for 2008.
But based on local media reports, some experts are calling the rise in hate incidents surprising and unprecedented.
"The rhetoric right now is just about out of control," said Brian Levin, director of Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. "When you get this depth of hatred, it usually is the smoke before the fire."
In the small Louisiana town of Angie, 58-year-old Judy Robinson put an Obama sign outside her home a few weeks before the Nov. 4 presidential election. The morning after Halloween, she awoke to find the words "KKK" and "white power" spray-painted around her yard.
"I thought all that KKK stuff was in the past," said Robinson, who is black. "But now I look at people and think, 'Could he be Klan?' Suddenly I'm feeling like my town is hostile territory."
Experts say modern Klan chapters remain isolated and small, with perhaps 6,000 members nationwide -- a shadow of the group's membership of 4 million in the early 1900s.
Bogalusa, a lumber and paper mill town of about 13,000, is just down the road from Angie.
In the 1960s, historians say, the Ku Klux Klan so dominated Bogalusa's commerce, politics and law enforcement that the group once held a public meeting to debate which black church to burn down next.
Several Bogalusa Klan members were long suspected of shooting two black sheriff's deputies in a 1965 ambush, killing one. No one was ever brought to trial.
"To this day, most white people in Bogalusa know who the killers were, and they were never brought to justice," said Lance Hill, a Tulane University law professor and Klan expert.
That past now seems less distant.
On Nov. 10, local law enforcement authorities arrested Raymond "Chuck" Foster, 44, the leader of a Bogalusa Klan chapter called the Sons of Dixie, and seven other Klan members in connection with the shooting death of a Tulsa, Okla., woman who went to the group's remote campsite in St. Tammany Parish for an initiation ceremony.
Authorities say Foster shot the woman when she tried to change her mind about joining the group. He has been charged with second-degree murder; the other Klan members, including Foster's 20-year-old son, have been charged with obstruction of justice.
City officials say they had no idea that Bogalusa has Klan cells.
"I've been here 13 years, and this was a complete surprise to me that there was Klan here," said Police Chief Jerry Agnew.
Yet members of the town's black community say they have been reporting Klan sightings to the police for more than a year. About 40% of residents are black.
In October 2007, residents of one black neighborhood reported white- hooded Klan members riding horses through the streets.
And in March, Klan members openly handed out fliers advertising the second annual Sons of Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Craw Fish Boil -- held at the house on Louisiana Avenue that Foster was renting from a Bogalusa deputy sheriff.
"The city leaders want to make it look like this is just some small fringe group," said former City Councilman Marvin Austin, 61, who once belonged to the Deacons for Defense, a black group that formed in the 1960s to defend black residents from the Klan.
"But the Klan still has a lot of sympathizers here."
FBI informant exposed as neo-Nazi rally organizer in Florida
By Gloria La Riva
Sun Nov 23, 2008
On February 25, 2006, a neo-Nazi rally was held in Orlando, Fla. It was a rally of only 22 neo-Nazis, but it was protected by over 300 police who surrounded the fascists to assure their "freedom of speech."
Cops protect Klan demonstration, New York City, Oct. 23, 1999 Photo: Richard B. Levine
More than 500 peopleAfrican American and whitecame out to demonstrate vigorously against the fascists, who had deliberately picked the historic African American neighborhood of Parramore to convey their terrorist message.
But police support for the neo-Nazis in Orlando went beyond the security mobilization to protect them.
On February 14, 2007, a prosecutor in an Orlando courtroom inadvertently exposed the fact that the organizer of that 2006 rally was an FBI informant. His name is David Gletty. According to the FBI, he was paid $20,000 for two years. Gletty did more than inform: He secured the permits and spearheaded organizing of the racist rally with obvious approval from the police, city officials and the FBI.
The reaction to the news of the FBI's involvement is that of anger in the African American community of this central Florida town. Leaders of the state's NAACP and local organizations are demanding a more complete investigation into the role of the FBI and police.
Without the 300 heavily armed SWAT police, the neo-Nazis' targeting of Orlando's African American community-with a minuscule number of 22 fascists-would never have been possible given the mass opposition from the people of Orlando.
Time and again, in every region of the United States, when small bands of Nazis or the Klan announce a rally, they invariably receive a permit and massive police protection from the justifiable wrath of the people. Without such police protection, the fascists would not be able to hold a public action.
But the revelation of FBI involvement in Orlando exposes a much closer collaboration between the government, police agencies and Klan and Nazi groups than most people are aware of.
The FBI's deadly hostility to the Black community and its leaders is sometimes explained as a thing of the past, attributed to the 50-year dictatorial rule of J. Edgar Hoover.
As FBI director for 50 years, Hoover was a virulent racist and anti-communist who oversaw the FBI's notorious Counter-Intelligence program and secretly declared war on African American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and many others. COINTELPRO targeted revolutionary and progressive organizations, including African American organizations struggling for civil rights. It also targeted radical organizations that emphasized Black power and the right to self-defense.
The nurturing and protection of the paramilitary racist organizations by state police and courts goes back even further than Hoover's rise to police power in the 1920s. And the government's hand-in-hand relationship continues to the present.
Protest against neo-nazis in Toledo, Ohio, December 2005
Orlando's deputy police chief Pete Gauntlett, in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, made that relationship clear, "We let them express their free speech and let them do what they're allowed to do, but we wanted to have control."
Freedom of speech as a cover
Sam Marcy, a Marxist leader in the United States, wrote in the book The Klan and the Government, Foes or Allies? about the links between the capitalist state and fascist organizations.
"The far more important problem is the reciprocal relations between the capitalist government and the Klan. More often than not, the former is made to appear rather hostile to the Klan. The public impression conveyed is that the government is forced under the law (the First or "free speech" amendment to the Constitution) to defend and secure the Klan's rights. In reality, however, the capitalist government has covertly encouraged and promoted the Klan over many decades. It is often completely overlooked in current discussions and in the press and media reports that the durability of the Klan rests on solid long-term bonds to the state, and that the two share a common political ideology, for the most part."
Just as the right of speech does not extend to acts harmful to people, like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, Klan and Nazi rallies are terrorist acts whose objective is only to rally their forces to carry out racist terror and must be vigorously opposed. However, relying on the state to stop them is a dangerous illusion.
One of the most blatant examples of the government's links to the Klan was the brutal massacre on Nov. 3, 1979, in Greensboro, NC of five unionists and anti-racist organizers.
The five were members of the former Communist Workers Party, which had been leading mass union-organizing struggles in the area's textile factories and hospitals. A people's rally and conference against the Klan was called for that day in the Black community of Greensboro, to meet at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Carver and Everett streets.
Ominously, the Greensboro police prohibited the anti-Klan-march organizers from carrying guns for their personal protection, although that had always been the practice. The police promised to provide protection.
But the police did not show up until just after the massacre. Instead, a nine-car caravan carrying 35 Klansmen drove up at 11:18 a.m., got out of their cars, and methodically shot at the people gathered.
The whole mass murder was filmed on four TV cameras, as the fascists calmly walked back to their cars, reloaded and kept shooting. It was a horrifying bloodbath. Five people lay dead, nine were wounded.
Instead of arresting the Klan, the police immediately drove up in their vehicles after the killing and began arresting and beating the anti-racist activists, including the injured. They allowed eight of the Klan vehicles to drive away.
In the investigations and trials that followed, the direct role of the local police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, was exposed. In particular, BATF agent Bernard Butkovich helped procure weapons and train the local Nazi and Klan groups.
He participated in a September 1979 meeting where rival fascist groups formed a coalition to attack the CWP members.
With the full knowledge and approval of the FBI, informer and agent Edward Dawson rallied Klansmen in North Carolina to come to Greensboro on November 3. From start to finish, Dawson was fully involved in the planning of the massacre, while in constant communication with the FBI.
Dawson was given the anti-racist rally march permit showing the entire route, even before it was given to the rally organizers. The gathering spot of Carver and Everett streets was not known to the public, only to the police and the Klan. That intersection became the killing field. Dawson even helped load the guns into the cars.
In the days after the massacre, there was national outrage. The following week, tens of thousands marched in Greensboro demanding justice. But despite two criminal trials-one state, the other federal-and despite the televised proof of the perpetrators' murderous actions, the Klan defendants were acquitted of all charges.
Only in a subsequent civil suit was there some justice. The trial exposed an extensive network of FBI and police ties with the Nazis and Klan in North Carolina.
Finally in 1985, five Klansmen and Nazis, Edward Dawson, officer Jerry Rooster Cooper and police tactical squad leader Lieutenant P.W. Spoon were found liable for the wrongful death of Dr. Michael Nathan, a pediatrician and one of the five people murdered. With funds from the damages awarded, the Greensboro Justice Fund was established to continue the fight for equality and social justice.
Today, when activists in the Orlando community and the NAACP demand a complete, independent investigation into the role of the FBI and police inside the Ku Klux Klan, it comes with the full weight of history behind it.
Articles may be reprinted with credit to Socialism and Liberation magazine.