National Lawyers Guild Seeks Files on Federal Role in Police Suppression of Occupy Wall Street Movement

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Posted Nov. 30, 2011

Interview with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, conducted by Scott Harris

occupy

In the 10 weeks since the original Occupy Wall Street protest encampment was founded in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, the movement has spread to hundreds of other outposts across the U.S. and the world. The message of activists – condemning corporate greed, economic inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics – has resonated with many Americans who are suffering under high unemployment, a record number of mortgage foreclosures and dimming prospects for the future.

But although the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, Occupy encampments from coast to coast have been the target of dozens of police raids and evictions ordered by local governments. Disturbingly, some police departments have employed brutal tactics better suited to confronting a terrorist threat than a group of citizens engaged in lawful and non-violent, peaceful protest. Video images of police assaults with truncheons, bloodied faces and pepper spray being fired into protesters’ eyes at close range have gone viral on the Internet, generating a backlash against police and increased support for the movement.

News reports of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s admission that she'd taken part in a conference call with officials from 18 other cities to discuss how to handle the Occupy encampments, and a leak from an anonymous Justice Department source, led many to conclude that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI had helped to coordinate local police actions suppressing Occupy activists. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild who talks about her group’s legal intervention to stop Occupy evictions and the filing of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice and other agencies to obtain information on their involvement in coordinating the nationwide crackdown on Occupy protest encampments.

For more information on the National Lawyers Guild, visit www.nlg.org. For more news, analysis and commentary on the Occupy Wall Street movement visit our Between The Lines’ special Occupy Wall Street coverage and resource page at www.btlonline.org.

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