Judge says DC police spy on antiwar groups without cause
Lead editorial, Washington Post, Dec 17
It starts by quoting U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler
“The District of Columbia, through [assistant police chief Alfred Broadbent] seems to be admitting that it maintains widespread, extensive spying operations on the activities and operations of political advocacy organizations, such as Plaintiffs [International Action Center, et al.], on the basis of their political philosophies and conduct protected under the First Amendment.
Moreover, Chief Broadbent admitted in his testimony that such operations are carried on even in the absence of allegations of criminal activities by the organizations being spied upon.”
Judge Kessler made that disturbing observation in denying the city’s motion to reconsider a court order of Aug. 30, 2002, requiring the police to disclose the identities of D.C. undercover officers who had infiltrated organizations that were exercising their right to free speech and assembly.
The lead editorial in the December 17 Washington Post, commenting on a public D.C. City Council investigation into police spying, brutality and pre-emptive arrests against demonstrators, is evidence that the national campaign to defend the First Amendment is effectively striking back at the war waged today by various law enforcement agencies against dissent in the United States.
As the spotlight on police and law enforcement misconduct gets brighter as a result of the litigation and political action campaigns, elected officials in Washington D.C. have scheduled two days of hearings to scrutinize the police department in the District of Columbia.
FOIA requests were filed on behalf of ANSWER and IAC by the National Lawyers Guild and Partnership for Civil Justice, and I believe lawsuits have also been filed.
It sounds to me like Chief Broadbent just ignores laws he finds inconvenient and which block him from targetting those whose politics differ from his. “Who will police the police”? The people, that’s who. The lawsuits, possible coming injunctions, and unfavorable national publicity may force him to change – or force him to resign.
Let’s keep the pressure on.