More NYC Police Surveillance
Jackie, enemy combatant
In January 2002, I was one of the first five people arrested as part of the demonstrations against the World Economic Forum (WEF) in New York City. I had always contended that I had been under surveillance and that my arrest was preemptive - I was arrested early in the morning while standing on top of an abandoned private building holding a banner (the banner had not been dropped).
As we were put through the system, we were told we were going to be "guinea pigs" for the WEF arrests to come. We were even given special WEF bracelets (somewhere between emergency room and rock-concert bracelets) and taken to a special facility for holding WEF protesters at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Subsequently, my attorneys Ron Kuby and Daniel Perez filed a lawsuit on our behalf against the city for false arrest and incarceration. Although we were told that the lawsuit was not going well, the city mysteriously settled our case last year.
Yesterday's front-page New York Times article about the proactive arrests during the WEF protests confirms my suspicions about my surveillance and preemptive arrest. As part of another WEF lawsuit filed by Perez, the city has released revealing internal documents detailing the fact of proactive arrests as an official policy during WEF.
In the words of the NY Times, "The reports also made clear what the police have yet to discuss publicly: that the department uses undercover officers to infiltrate political gatherings and monitor behavior." Moreover,"[The NYPD]...had successfully used 'proactive arrests,' covert surveillance and psychological tactics at political demonstrations in 2002, and recommend that those approaches be employed at future gatherings."
After years of being followed, surveilled and falsely arrested, I feel somewhat vindicated at seeing the Times articles detailing the fact that the NYPD officially admits to bypassing legal procedures and severely curtailing our First Amendment rights. But the truth is that these police tactics work. After constant surveillance and arrests, which reached an all-time high for me at the Miami FTAA demos in 2003 and the 2004 Republican National Convention marches, I was left feeling demoralized and defeated. As a result, I have been much less active in recent years. I only hope that it isn't too late for all of us to be outraged enough to feel inspired to continue to fight back.--Jackie