(CN) – The FBI should disclose the degree to which it monitored the Occupy movement, the American Civil Liberties Union and San Francisco Bay Guardian say in a federal complaint.
To date, authorities have been mum about a request for such information that the newspaper submitted alongside the ACLU of Northern California in March.
They hope that the lawsuit in San Francisco will prove more fruitful.
“It is imperative that the public gain a full and complete understand of the scope of FBI surveillance of Occupy movements in Northern California – where some of the country’s most brutal police crackdowns have occurred – and whether FBI activities in connection with Occupy comport with legal and ethical guidelines,” the complaint says.
The FBI has a well-documented history of monitoring political activists, and “there are concrete reasons to believe that the FBI has been surveilling the Occupy movement,” the groups say.
“The agency issued an unclassified intelligence bulletin on September 14, 2011, just days before the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protest on September 17, 2011, depicting the now-iconic Occupy Wall Street poster with the caption ‘Propaganda poster … to endorse the ‘Days of Rage’ protest,'” according to the complaint (ellipsis in original).
Though the FBI has acknowledged that “potentially responsive documents may exist” about Occupy San Francisco, the groups say it has not divulged them.
“There is great urgency in shedding light on the extent of the FBI’s role in surveilling Occupy activists, and in particular, on whether the FBI has complied with local and national norms in monitoring those engaged in First Amendment activity,” the complaint says. “Just last year, the agency made public a new edition of its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, re-igniting an on-going matter of public debate about whether the FBI’s standards for its investigations intrude unduly on civil liberties.”
Though the FBI agreed to expedite its processing of their information requests, it has failed nevertheless failed to produce any of the requested records, according to the groups.
The ACLU and the Guardian want information on FBI entities like the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Campus Liaison Initiative as they relate to Occupy protests in Oakland, San Francisco, and Univesity of California campuses at Berkeley and Davis.
Linda Lye of San Francisco represents the ACLU.