PrsRls: FBI Abuse of Civil Rights
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 21:22:59 -0400
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
For immediate release:
Tuesday June 18, 2002
Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576, email@example.com
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, firstname.lastname@example.org
WHILE BUSH EXPANDS FBI POWERS,
A FEDERAL COURT FINDS FBI ABUSE OF CIVIL RIGHTS
Greens warn of an increase in FBI abuse of constitutional rights and
illegal COINTELPRO tactics against law-abiding citizens and organizations
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following last week's legal victory by environmental
activists against the FBI in federal court, the Green Party of the United
States raised concerns about legal abuses as Attorney General Ashcroft
announced expanded powers for the agency.
"The behavior of FBI officers in the Earth First! case isn't an
aberration," said David Cobb, Green Party candidate for Attorney General of
Texas. "It's a pattern we've seen ever since J. Edgar Hoover's
surveillance of prominent leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, since
COINTELPRO, and since the secret campaign to fire former University of
California President Clark Kerr, recently revealed by journalist Seth
Rosenfeld. Rather than new license to interfere with people's right to
dissent, the FBI needs what any powerful law-enforcement body needs in a
democracy -- accountability."
Activists Darryl Cherney and the late Judi Bari triumphed in their federal
civil rights lawsuit against several FBI agents and Oakland Police officers
when the jury returned a favorable verdict and awarded the plaintiffs $4.4
million for various FBI and police violations of their constitutional
rights after a car they occupied
was bombed on May 24, 1990.
"It's outrageous, in the wake of the Cherney-Bari verdict and the FBI's
willful negligence in the face of last year's evidence of impending
terrorism, as documented by agent Colleen Rowley, that Attorney General
Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller are assigning to themselves and to the
FBI greater power to spy on legitimate groups and organizers," said
Elizabeth Shanklin, Green candidate for U.S. Congress in New York's
17th Congressional District.
Greens note that COINTELPRO targeted thousands of law-abiding Americans,
but resulted in few indictments, convictions, or even accusations of
criminal behavior. Although the FBI's illegal COINTELPRO activities were
banned in the 1970s, they continued through the 80s and 90s, with covert
operations against religious and pacifist groups opposing U.S. foreign
policy in Central America and other civil rights, environmental, and Native
The Bush Administration seeks to restore COINTELPRO-style FBI powers:
monitoring activists' meetings, electronic surveillance of groups and
citizens, and other tactics the agency deems appropriate.
"The President says these powers will give agents means to stop
terrorists," said Charles Pillsbury, Green candidate for Congress in
Connecticut's 3rd District. "But 'enemy of the state' can mean just about
anybody -- non-violent environmentalists like Bari and Cherney,
anti-globalization protesters, Greens, and anyone else who might question
White House policy or object to the tactics of the FBI or Ashcroft's
FBI and police officers were found to have violated the First and Fourth
Amendments in 1990 by arresting Darryl Cherney and Judi Bari and searching
their homes; by creating a media smear campaign in which Earth First! was
labeled a terrorist organization and the activists called bombers; by
collecting extensive files on political groups in the Bay Area; by engaging
in a secret investigation of Earth First!; by concocting a fake informant
tip, other information to implicate the activists, and at least one
fraudulent search warrant affidavit; and by ignoring evidence at the scene
of the bomb blast that injured Cherney and Bari.
"Bari was an effective organizer, and she was bombed for it," said Ben
Manski, Green Party Co-Chair and a veteran of Earth First! Campaigns in
Wisconsin and Oregon. "America has lost too many of our most courageous
leaders to police violence and intimidation. The cost to society of such
violence against activists is very high, and it's got to stop."
"In a world where George Bush says you're either with the terrorists or
against the terrorists, the FBI sided with the terrorists in our case,"
said Darryl Cherney.
The Green Party of the United States
National office: 1314 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Index of Green Party candidates in 2002
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