Trial of NATO3 Reveals Police Spying Operation

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 9.58.35 AMTestimony from an undercover police officer in the trial of three activists arrested just prior to the Chicago’s NATO summit in May 2012 and now face terrorism charges, revealed a large surveillance operation Chicago Police had months prior to the summit.

The prosecution alleges the three men were planning to build Molotov cocktails to bring to the protests along with discussing “attacking” several locations, including President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and police stations. Police also allege they found several weapons including knives and a throwing star, a mortar made from PVC pipe and a bow during the raid.

Much of the case against the three is based on information garnered from two Chicago Police informants who infiltrated local activist groups many weeks prior to the NATO protests. Known as “Moe” and “Gloves,” the prosecution alleges the two officers were inside the apartment where Church, Chase and Betterly were staying when they say they filled beer bottles with gasoline. One of the defendants allegedly asked “Gloves” if she was “ready to see a police officer on fire,” prosecutors say.

Via Aaron Cynic at Chicagoist:

Defense attorney’s also asked Chikko about surveillance activities leading up to the NATO protests in May 2012. Testimony from Chikko revealed Chicago Police had been running surveillance for at least two months prior to the NATO summit in Chicago. As early as March of 2012, police went to coffee shops and punk shows searching for opportunities to infiltrate activist groups. According to Firedoglake journalist Kevin Gosztola, at one point, six officers were listening in on conversations of patrons at the Heartland Cafe. Additionally, Chikko said police kept an eye on Division Street and Permanent Records for “anarchists and criminal activity.” Chikko admitted that police had taken down license plates at a punk show prior to the summit. “If there was license plates, we’d record them,” she said. As to why, Chikko replied “we’re police officers. That’s what we do.”

Much of Chikko’s testimony seemed to be about mincing words. Referring to the annual May Day march, Defense Attorney Michael Deutsch asked the officer “You infiltrated that demonstration?” Chikko replied “No, sir. I’m not an infiltrator. I’m an undercover officer.” She later said “We weren’t looking for anarchists. We were looking for people who want to call themselves anarchists appearing as peaceful protesters, sir.” Chikko admitted her and her partner attended Occupy Chicago meetings. When asked if officers were assigned to “spy on Occupy Chicago and anarchists,” she replied “no, observe and listen for criminal activity.”

Via Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake:

The defense asked about surveillance of activist communities by police in the months prior to the summit because the police department had a large-scale operation. This was part of determining what resources, money and personnel, needed to be allocated for security during the summit. So, they chose to spy on activist communities to figure out who they needed to watch to prevent violence.

However, much of this would be unnecessary. The city of Chicago was preparing to host both the G8 and NATO meetings on May 15 and May 19 respectively. Obama made a decision in March to move the G8 meeting to Camp David without giving all that much of an explanation for why the location was changed. The suspicion the defense has is it was moved because there was worry about the possibility of police in Chicago being seen beating up protesters.

Read the full posts at Chicagoist and Firedoglake.

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  • InfvoCuernos

    Oh shit, a throwing star? These guys were seriouz.

  • echar

    Much of Chikko’s testimony seemed to be about mincing words. Referring
    to the annual May Day march, Defense Attorney Michael Deutsch asked the
    officer “You infiltrated that demonstration?” Chikko replied “No, sir.
    I’m not an infiltrator. I’m an undercover officer.” She later said “We
    weren’t looking for anarchists. We were looking for people who want to
    call themselves anarchists appearing as peaceful protesters, sir.”
    Chikko admitted her and her partner attended Occupy Chicago meetings.
    When asked if officers were assigned to “spy on Occupy Chicago and
    anarchists,” she replied “no, observe and listen for criminal activity.”

    If</u/ this is true, then it can be viewed as a boon to anyone who does not want their message ruined by criminals. However, it’s also believable that a corporation and/or the authorities are capable of creating the appearance of criminals to discredit a message.

    Perhaps it’s a good idea to create a group of accountable leaders who are all in alignment towards a peaceful goal. All of which whose appearance is clean cut, and everything is transparent. I would think a team of “ethical” lawyers along with experts to assist would be highly beneficial.

    Anyone whose intention it is to create harm, break the law, or cause harm to the message should be weeded out long before it can cause harm to the message. This is my dream movement.

    • kowalityjesus

      i appreciate your idealism, and it is probably true more often than not, but its a lot easier for establishment to fight dirty, e.g. phony provocateurs, lol

      • echar

        Never give a reason, nor fight dirty like them. The message loses power.

        • Calypso_1

          What is fighting clean?

          • echar

            in this instance, fighting is a problem.

          • Calypso_1

            In these instances, lack of counterintel architecture is a problem.

          • echar

            What I mean is if a person/group has a message, fighting takes away from that message. It creates an opportunity for those that oppose the message to highjack it with something else.

          • VaudeVillain

            I generally define fighting “clean” or “fair” as “fighting on terms that let me win”. Nobody ever *really* wants a fair fight, they just want their opponent to be relatively disadvantaged.

          • Calypso_1

            I prefer whatever lets me get away with it.

      • Rhoid Rager

        I remember that shit. That was in Montebello. Right before they got thrown to the ground like that, they were already outed by the other activists, because the 3 fuckers had rocks and bricks in their hands ready to incite the police to stomp on the crowd’s heads. What a god awful thing to do.

      • echar

        Interesting

        http://canadiancynic.blogspot.com/2007/08/and-now-questions-can-begin.html

        and

        http://www.dedroidify.com/popo.htm

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St1-WTc1kow

        I’d like to note that I owned a post taxi Crown Vic. Interceptor at one time. I also own a pair of Bates shoes. They issue them to police. It’s the best pair of shoes I have ever owned, and they will last years. The soles have this nifty ring in it that allows to change the support. This does not make me a cop, nor do I like them.

        I say all this because I was curious where that picture came from, and wondered if the it was true. A person at one of the links that I didn’t share said something like “Those are all soles of a specific kind of boot. This accusation is speculation.”

        I realized that it’s not a good idea to take things at face value, for or against. In this instance, it seems that they were piggies.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        I had to share this pic on FB. Too rich.

  • kowalityjesus

    I actually know some people who volunteer at “food, not bombs” that say there was a guy who appeared a couple months prior to the NATO summit looking like a normal like-minded hippie or whatever, inserting himself into the clique. A couple months before the summit he appeared and disappeared immediately following it. They aren’t anarchists or anything, just people that want to reduce food waste, and they’re associated with a local church. I wonder whose payroll that guy was on….

    • VaudeVillain

      Probably Monsanto’s.

      Honestly though… if he showed up, contributed, didn’t crack anybody’s skull, and was only notable for having suspicious timing for joining then leaving… so what? Even if he was an undercover, and not somebody with a coincidental life schedule, he evidently saw nothing and left without incident; big whoop. Who knows, maybe the guy actually learned a thing or two and still strives to uphold the positive values of FNB elsewhere in his life; weirder shit has happened.

      Sure, it’s easy to say that there was nothing to see if you had inside knowledge of what was going on all along… but how are you supposed to know that without looking inside? If it was your job to make sure nobody got violent at a protest, wouldn’t it make sense to look at groups of people who are likely to participate in those protests, just to see if anyone is feeling violent?

      I’m way more concerned about electronic dragnets, naked body scanners, agent provocateurs, and straight up unbridled police brutality than I am about anyone “infiltrating” groups with open membership who post flyers telling everyone where and when they meet.

      • kowalityjesus

        hmm, it seems to be the consensus among those in the group that the guy WAS somehow related to the NATO summit, although you could be right he might have been a drifter or just in town for the event or whatever. I would like to think if a guy can get along with a group and appear to share their values he would be less likely to betray them. I wonder though, what the mechanism by which this person was recruited. That would be an interesting study, how hippie spies are recruited.

        • VaudeVillain

          I don’t really doubt that he was related to the summit, suspecting him of being some variety of paid informant or operative is entirely fair and reasonable.

          As to how he was recruited… police agencies have entire training programs related to undercover surveillance, he may have just been a young cop who went through one of those programs and built a persona that would fit in with such a group. I’m a pretty mediocre actor, and I can get along with FNBers or similar groups easily enough, even while I don’t generally agree with them on everything.

          As to the betrayal aspect… it doesn’t sound to me like betrayed anyone. It sounds like he showed up, saw that everyone was cool, stuck through his assigned time frame to make sure nothing untoward happened, then left.

          I’m actually wondering what you would consider “betrayal” in such a case. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that some of the Food Not Bombs people *were* planning some sort of violence. Would it be a betrayal if another genuine member were to contact the authorities out of concern for public safety? Could planning such a thing be considered a betrayal of the rest of the group if not everyone believes that violence is an appropriate course of action? Would feeling one way or the other about the use of violence as a political tool, or in the validity of police intervention in such an event, in any way change or diminish one’s feelings on food waste?

          I understand that nobody likes the idea of being spied on, I really do. I just wonder how far back we really want to push things, because at some point lack of vigilance is simply foolish.

          • kowalityjesus

            That is very much a worthy point, yes, the alleged ‘agent’
            wasn’t going to “betray” anyone that wasn’t going to be doing something unlawful, and almost certainly that only in correlation to violent acts surrounding the important international event. I am glad he wasn’t an overbearing tool in the process, although being really quite literally a tool, lol!

            I would say the thing that irks me then, is that the ball is in tptb’s court….not only the sheer resources they are capable of spending on a <15 person operation but also the degree the information is collated on groups resembling FNB. Espionage is a pretty one-way street at this level, . But anyways, didn't the Founding Fathers subtly endorse our right to get violent in our own advocacy by way of the 2nd amendment? I'm detecting gray areas.

            Honestly though, if he was subtle enough to sneak under the nose of some real people, he was really a trained professional and not a thug….Or maybe he was a protester who just wanted a place to hang and stay under the radar.

          • VaudeVillain

            TPTB may have resources that are vastly greater than any individual outside group… they do not have resources even remotely close to those of EVERY outside group.

            The solution to espionage being so one-sided is to push for greater transparency in law enforcement and intelligence operations. Obviously there is an element of privacy and secrecy that needs to be maintained in order not to further harm innocent people inadvertently (or maliciously) swept up in police business by disclosing their private info and in order to preserve the viability of discrete information gathering, but the levels we have now are foolish.

            Re: the 2nd Amendment; yeah, sort of. Based on their actual writings around the issue (letters, etc.) they were mostly interested in making sure that the option was never taken away more as a deterrent than anything. They’d all seen a violent revolution, and were far from cavalier about repeating it. They were also more than a little concerned about the practical day-to-day threats of life in a nation comprised almost entirely of frontier.

          • kowalityjesus

            Well, all of this unique and well-informed banter and here we come across a couple hackneyed maxims. Unity in the face of government; not in revolution, but simply in vigilance. And a call for transparency among the agencies of espionage. Anything else we want to add to the petition? haha No but seriously, very excellent convo, thanks for your perspective.

          • VaudeVillain

            The truth is almost always a cliche, because every idiot really can see it. The hard part is getting there.

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