Crushing the Occupy Movement – How Wall Street Used Government Forces to Suppress Political Dissent

by on April 3, 2015 · 6 comments

in American Empire, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, History, Media, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

occupy-sd-10-28-11-013

San Diego City Police and County Sheriffs line prior to mass arrests of San Diego Occupy activists, Oct. 28, 2011.

occupy-sd-10-28-11-011by gulfgal98Follow / DailyKos /March 28, 2015

It has been over two years since the Occupy Movement was brutally destroyed by a coordinated national effort led by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Since that time, much documentation has been released under the Freedom of Information Act. Even though they are heavily redacted, these documents provide a frightening window into how far corporate America along with the federal, state, and local governments acting as their agents were willing to go to destroy a populist social movement like Occupy.

Despite all the documentation we have, there are still many out there who are in denial about these facts. After reading some recent comments that misrepresent what happened to the Occupy Movement, I decided to review how Occupy was so brutally squelched by Wall Street and corporate America using government forces as their agents acting upon their behalf.

Terrorism.  The word alone can bring about unwarranted fear in otherwise normal people.  The images of the twin towers of the World trade Center were deeply etched into the American psyche and created a climate of intense fear which provided the rationale for the current “war on terror.”  But what is terrorism and how is a terrorist organization defined?  Let’s start with Merriam Webster’s dictionary which defines terrorism as thus:

the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal

This definition seems fairly straight forward.  But then if we look at the FBI’s definition of terrorism, the definition of terrorism becomes more muddied.  There are multiple definitions of terrorism, but for this diary we are looking at the definition of domestic terrorism.  The FBI’s own definition requires a three part test and yet the Occupy Movement was branded as a terrorist threat before the first tent was placed in Zuccotti Park. Let’s examine just how FBI’s open ended interpretation of their own definition of terrorism was and can be selectively used to squelch public dissent such as was the case with the Occupy Movement..

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:   

– Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
– Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
-Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

The first subsection of the definition is particularly important in that it requires an organization to be engaged in acts that are dangerous to human life and violate state and federal law.  I would argue that the Oath Keepers guarding the Bundy Ranch definitely met this part of the definition in that they physically threatened federal agents with high powered military style weapons.  Yet they were not treated as a terrorist organization. When the government’s reaction to the Oath Keepers’ threats upon federal agents is compared to the Occupy Movement, it is almost laughable that the FBI could consider Occupy a terrorist organization at all.

There was never any remote indication that the Occupy Movement intended to do anything enumerated in subsection two.  But the FBI decided to categorize the Occupy Movement as a terrorist organization early on in its inception as evidenced by the FBI’s own documents that were obtained under the FOIA. (note: my bolding added for emphasis)

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.   

These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.

Not only was Occupy, a peaceful public protest group, categorized as a terrorist organization for no legitimate reason other than they challenged corporate America and the big money on Wall Street, but the FOIA documents showed another equally disturbing aspect to the government’s coordinated effort to shut down and destroy the Occupy Movement.  Early on in the movement, the FBI was collecting data on many of the protestors, particularly those who may have appeared to in leadership roles.  This was clearly in violation of laws protecting the public from such intrusive investigations without a warrant or cause.

The FBI denied the surveillance accusations by saying that its investigation did not  include “unnecessary intrusions into the lives of law-abiding people” and that its prohibited from investigating Americans “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights.” Of course, if you classify the actions as “domestic terrorism,” other rules apply.

The documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund clearly show that the Occupy Movement was targeted by the federal government as a terrorist threat from its very beginning even prior to the initial occupation of Zuccotti Park.

…the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”

[Editor: for 2 videos that accompanied this post, please go to original.]

As detailed at multiple sources, including an excellent article in the Guardian by Naomi Wolf, the extent by which the government and private corporate interests had merged their surveillance and ultimately coordinated the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Movement is shockingly reminiscent of other totalitarian societies.  (note: my bolding added for emphasis)

The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

So why was Occupy singled out for such brutal treatment while other, more violent and extreme organizations have been given a pass?  There can be only one reason.  By its presence and its message, Occupy posed a huge political threat to the big money power brokers on Wall Street and elsewhere in the corporate America.  Occupy’s message about the 99% had the potential to make it become such a strong nationwide social movement that the politicians would not be able to ignore it.  Occupy had to be stamped out early on and its participants had to be made an example of to deter future public social movements that might challenge the power of big corporate money.

One thing is abundantly clear despite those who defend the current administration’s action on this, and that is that Occupy was targeted by a nationwide effort which was coordinated through the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security acting on behalf of big money and corporate America to ensure that it would not succeed.

What happened to Occupy should serve as a warning to everyone about the dangerous fusion of corporate interests and our public institutions. The corporate capture of our government institutions is dangerous to us as a free people.  Those who fail to learn from the history of how the Occupy Movement was suppressed will be doomed to have it repeated upon them.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar rick callejon April 3, 2015 at 12:59 pm

…same as it ever was…same as it ever was (“Once in a Lifetime,” Talking Heads)

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Avatar mjt April 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Of course big money supported political suppression, but I believe the FBI and HLS represent out of out control security agencies of America.
For the FBI this is nothing new, they spied on, infiltrated and harassed the Vietnam protesters throughout the war.
Throw in Homeland Security, who coordinated police all across America, against the protesters. An you have a totalitarian society in the making.

I personally dislike HLS more than the FBI, with no proof to say why.
Intrusive, abusive, trying to justify their existence.
Maybe it’s because HLS purchased 1.6 billion hollow point bullets.
To use on who?

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Avatar john April 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Its disingenuous to believe this could happen without the support of the general populace and thats because of the circus atmosphere that it became as well as the lack of clear goals other than, it appeared, to have a circus.
When the violence started it was over. Never mind that was a few bad apples.
The majority of the populace doesnt like wall street skul duggery or the lack of opportunity that has resulted any more than occupy does. However they even less like the idea of radicals tearing down whats left if they dont have realistic plans to rebuild it.
So while it might be nice to think it was occupy vs government or wall street, in the end it was occupy vs everyone.

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Avatar donna*piranha April 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm

LOL
<3

NEWSFLASH: We are still Occupying Wall Street. If you aren't, then maybe you don't realize we are everywhere around the world, doing all manner of revolutionary things.

"They tried to bury us.
They didn't know we were seeds."

Occupy is an IDEA … it can't die. And it already issued in a Paradigm Shift in thinking around the planet.

i realize that the 1% WANT Occupy to be "crushed." To those who came to OCCUPY Wall Street, we understood what it meant. We watched as the co-opters, patriarchs, and egoists took the stage and tried to control a horizontal, leaderless movement. When the dust settled … we know who came to OCCUPY. We are still here. We are everywhere.

OCCUPY. That word, and the inability of the 1% to eradicate it, is the single best peaceful, non-violent tool we have at our disposal. It must drive the 1% mad to know that they can't get rid of us, and in fact, uprooting us from our OCCUPY encampments scattered us to the winds and let us root in so many places among so many things that there is no controlling it. They should have left us in our camps.

This Global Protest Movement is unstoppable. OCCUPY Wall Street woke up some in America. It woke up enough. And it gathered together myriad groups long dormant, in every sector, who are now networking and creating alternatives to "the system."

We win this. No matter who tried to crush us, or who was too impatient to wait for the finale. This is far from over. hahaha … we're just getting started.

<3

donna*piranha
Occupy San Diego
Occupy Wall Street
http://www.nycga.net/
(You can find "The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City" herein, with our clear demands. Most people have never even bothered to read our founding documents.)
Occupy Everywhere

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Avatar john April 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm

The link you provided did not display any such document that I could find though out of interest in my own education (and my despise for those who comment on issues in ignorance while pretending its too hard to do their own research) I did locate it without much difficulty in a google search.
That particular document you specifically refer to is not a list of demands but a list of complaints. A list I generally agree with BTW but do not feel the way it wad presented was helpful or even based in reality. It is a list of complaints about every ill in society and the world today as experienced by anyone disenfranchised from capitalist entitlement. ( which I can certainly feel includes me-living in a 20 year old small SUV for 9 months now!)
Why it is unrealistic is it runs down this incredibly broad spectrum of societal repression blaming each on an anonymous bogeyman, “THEY” and Wall St investment figures could only be possibly responsible for a scant several items. The rest are systemic ills perpetrated by, like it or not, the masses who are not likely really evil but in positions of power above the disenfranchised simply because they worked with the system rather than resisted it at every turn.
We are talking everyone from your high school teachers and principals to the night manager at jack in the box to the city code compliance officer who will cite you if your trash cans are still on the curb on Tuesday because your neighbors dont want your maggots spilling over on the sidewalk.
Im not saying resistance was wrong but reinforcing that the way it was and still seems to be presented is not the will of the common man or 99%.
It is perceived by the very people it is vital to have on your side, the general populace, as a fringe minority of anarchists bent on destroying what little stability they have left after decades of erosion which Wall Street is only partially responsible for.
Consider also how much of this equally attacks the federal government in ways that can only be described again as anarchy. Did you ever stop to think how many Americans depend on federal entitlement and subsidies for their very existence? From military pensions, social security, welfare, food stamps, civil servant retirees… the list is endless and goes without saying adds up to probably a majority. When occupy marched in the streets with messages like tear down the Fed and the like, do you think that appealed to them at all?
The gist of all of this is that most of the 99% you thought you spoke for supported the police running occupy out of town on rails even if they hated the Wall St villains as much as you and I do- and rank and file police after all are just 99%ers doing their jobs.
So really if the goal is to be a rebel, an outcast, and live the anarchy dream and have a good circus every year or so, keep up the good work its going splendidly. If the goal is affecting real change you can look back as an old man at and say hey, we did that- peoples lives are better today for it-please listen to this as not from someone opposing you but offering a different perspective from the sidelines the majority is sitting on.
The way its gone so far youve only impressed those who you already had on your side and politics doesnt work like that.

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Avatar Micporte April 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm

The mission of the prophet is to deliver the message; Occupy Wall Street did that. The longterm wave theory effect is only just beginning…it inspired me.
By the way, people! don’t invest your life savings in these wall st investment brokers ‘pretty pictures and promises’ advertisements, (in case you didn’t get the message) in terms of the nature of wall st. Investment Brokers, nothing has changed, except that they are more desperate for your money…
Cultivate your own garden…

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