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LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights

Chicago Police Admit Spying On, Infiltrating Protest Meetings

Chicago Indy Media exclusive

At a time when civil liberties around the country continue to be under siege, the City of Chicago has once again admitted that it spies on protesters and infiltrates their organizing meetings.
Chicago Police at the March 18, 2006 anti-war march
As reported in the Chicago Police Department's recently released "2004 Annual First Amendment Compliance Audit," the City apparently feels that people exercising their legal 1st Amendment rights are a legitimate target for police spying and infiltration.

"Sworn [Police Department] members attended planning sessions for the protests in an undercover capacity," the report states, and "reports [were made] from officers, [and] various documents, fliers and items obtained via the internet."

The undercover infiltration was reportedly directed by the police department's Deployment Operations Center, a unit which is charged with "responding to emergency situations, special events, and mission directed patrols; conducting tactical analytical activities supporting effective deployment of field units; maintaining and deploying certain specialized vehicles; analyzing anti-terrorism intelligence; coordinating the Department's overall anti-terrorism planning and preparation; and providing dignitary protection." The Deployment Operations Center is "commanded by a Deputy Superintendent who reports directly to the Superintendent."

Police Superintendent Philip Cline Implicated

While the Deployment Operations Center initiated the infiltration, the report notes that "The Superintendent retains the ultimate authority for the approval of all investigations directed toward First Amendment related intelligence. The Superintendent personally approves or denies any infiltration request."

While the report notes that the infiltration was initiated "on March 11, 2004" and "terminated March 20, 2004," it fails to note what organization(s) and/or individual(s) were the targets of the spying.

The timing of the spying coincides with protests on the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. On each anniversary of the invasion, Chicago Police have made a huge show of force with hundreds of riot clad officers ringing anti-war protesters and intimidating passersby who might want to join in. Moreover, the City has gone out of its way to make it difficult for activists to organize the event (,

In March 2004, 2005 and 2006, officers distributed flyers threatening mass arrests of the nonviolent protesters. During this year's demonstration, police carefully videotaped and took notes on every discussion between themselves and protest organizers and threatened wholesale arrests as late as 8:30 that evening.

Today I will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request on the Chicago Police Department in an attempt to get it to turn over all records it has regarding the spying and infiltration it conducted during March 11-30, 2004. A pdf of the report and the FOIA request are below.
2004 Annual 1st Amendment Compliance Audit.pdf (2465 k)
FOIA request, 2006-05-09.pdf (176 k)



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