Working for the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division must be a sweet gig, as they get to travel to places like New Orleans to infiltrate activist groups there. At least, that's what the Associated Press found in its latest foray into NYPD documents. The news that the police department infiltrates lefty organizations both in New York and well outside the city is certainly going to unnerve the Occupy Wall Street crowd, which already thinks it's being infiltrated all the time.
The AP's investigation showed the department not only infiltrated leftist organizations at home -- we already knew about its spying on organizers of the 2004 Republican National Convention protests -- but in 2008 an officer traveled to New Orleans according to AP's Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, "to attend the People's Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico." The connection to New York: Tenuous. "One workshop was led by Jordan Flaherty, former member of the International Solidarity Movement Chapter in New York City," a police document said. And that seems to be the extent of the connection. Flaherty's a Huffington Post writer and the editor of Left Turn magazine, who said the 2008 event was actually a film festival. So is the story here really that NYPD officers jaunt off to New Orleans to check out film festivals under the guise of intelligence-gathering? The NYPD wouldn't speak to the AP about the New Orleans trip, so it's hard to tell.
As for Occupy, the AP points to a Gawker story that found the Department of Homeland Security tried hard not to monitor Occupy organizers because they were engaged in legal protests protected by the first amendment. The implication here is that the NYPD took that duty upon itself, but the AP never specifically says the department's infiltrating Occupy:
Keeping tabs on planned demonstrations is a key function of [intelligence head David] Cohen's division. Investigators with his Cyber Intelligence Unit monitor websites of activist groups, and undercover officers put themselves on email distribution lists for upcoming events. Plainclothes officers collect fliers on public demonstrations. Officers and informants infiltrate the groups and attend rallies, parades and marches.
Just any leftist organizations, you know, whoever's around.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.