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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Internal Audit Reveals Chicago Police Continue to Spy on Activist Groups

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Chicago undercover police infiltrated five local social justice groups in 2002 and launched at least four other spying operations in 2003, according to a CPD internal audit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. [article] The 5 groups - The Autonomous Zone, The American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Anarchist Black Cross, Not in Our Name, and the Chicago Direct Action Network - were targeted in advance of anti-corporate and pro-labor protests [see CIMC protest coverage] organized against the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) summit held in Chicago in November of 2002.

The police spying came in the wake of a January, 2001 federal appeals court ruling that gutted restrictions intended to prevent police and FBI spying on political dissidents. The restrictions were included in a 1981 consent decree stemming from a 1974 lawsuit by the Alliance to End Repression. The suit charged that the FBI's Chicago office and the Chicago police routinely violated First Amendment rights when investigating dissidents. The suit particularly targeted the CPD Intelligence Division, dubbed the "Red Squad" because of its infiltration and disruption of progressive political and community organizations during the 1960-70's.

Chicago police refuse to disclose additional information about the 2003 spying operations, or about latest efforts to collect information on local peace and social justice groups. However, a confidential FBI memo (PDF) leaked to the New York Times last October urged local law enforcement agencies to step up intellegence gathering against anti-war organizations.

Related Local Links: National Lawyer's Guild - Chicago | ACLU-Illinois | Chicagoland Committee for Civil Liberties and Rights

National Lawyer's Guild Info Sheets:

  • What You Can do to Prevent Further Harassment of Free Speech Activity (PDF)
  • Dealing With the Police: General Guidelines for Activists (PDF).
  • Know Your Rights: Link to the NLG webpage for this important publication in English, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Punjabi, and Portuguese.

    Additional Web Resources:
    Acivist Security and Security Culture: From the Partnership for Civil Justice. | Safety and Security for Activists - Public Eye | Security Culture: A Handbook (PDF): From securty.resist.ca | How to Handle the Heat: A guide from the People's Law Collective, NYC. | Interactivist Network: A secure activist communications network. | Center for Constitutional Rights | Bill of Rights Defense Committee | Electronic Privacy Information Center | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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