PrsRls: FBI Abuse of Civil Rights

Hugh Esco
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 21:22:59 -0400


For immediate release:
Tuesday June 18, 2002

Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576,
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,


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 
American organizations.

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 
Justice Department."

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
202-296-7755, 866-41GREEN

Index of Green Party candidates in 2002

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