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Student Group Sues Cop as Infiltrator

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posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 05:15 PM
Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Undercovers got to GO!

...err.. sorry. Had to get that out. I feel better now.

This doesn't really shock me as I know there were 2 undercover cops in the Occupy camp I was in at St Louis. One is still very much in that whole scene up there so I'll leave it at that but to say I'm surprised someone sued over it in another example here.

WASHINGTON, (CN) - United Students Against Sweatshops sued the District of Columbia and an undercover police officer they claim has been posing as a protester, handing out flowers, carrying banners and chanting - to keep tabs on the student labor organization.

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) sued the District of Columbia and Metro Police Department Officer Nicole Rizzi, who allegedly works undercover as a protester called "Missy."

Missy? Sounds appropriately sassy for the job she was doing against people.

USAS caught onto Rizzi's ruse after running across Tweets she posted that gave up her identity, according to local media reports.

Uh OH! Busted by her own arrogance. Ooooo... That had to hurt. I guess she never thought a protest group might have a few who spend their time watching for her, specifically. I think every group of any size does. Whether officially or unofficially. The one I was with most certainly did.

"Defendants have violated the District of Columbia Police Investigations Concerning First Amendment Activities Act of 2004 by conducting undercover operations in connection with plaintiff's First Amendment activities without the statutorily required authorization," the complaint states.
Source: Courthouse News

It would seem that D.C. is no stranger to this sort of abuse by it's cops. That's what I'd gather from the 2004 Act this refers to. She should have gotten authorization from the Chief of Police or a direct representative to open an undercover investigation like this. Apparently, someone just thought it up and did it as a fishing expedition.


Hey Hey! Ho Ho! This B.S. HAS GOT TO GO!

posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 09:58 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

Dear Wrabbit2000,

Here I am, Mr. Confusion again, hoping that you'll be able to set me straight. I suffered through as much of that D.C. act as I could stomach. Here it is, presented for your carrot dining enjoyment.

It seemed to me that the relevant section was 207 (It's in Title II). This is subsection (d.):

(d) Undercover officers, informants, and mail covers may be used in an authorized preliminary inquiry after written approval and authorization is obtained from the Chief of Police or his designee. Mail openings and Wire Interception and Interception of Oral Communications, as defined in D.C. Official Code § 23-541, shall not be used in a preliminary inquiry.
So it seems that, if the protesters have any complaint at all, it's that the Chief of Police told some subordinate to write up a memo, and he didn't do it or couldn't find it.

That's it? The protesters are suing over sloppy paperwork? What damages are they going to be able to show?

It reminds me of a sexy bug crawling out of the spout of a tea pot. It's a temptress in a tea spout.
Sometimes, I crack myself up. (Chortle)

With respect,

P.s. Of course, they'll never get an injunction prohibiting the use of undercovers at protests. That's a silly request and is probably being pushed just so they have some reason for publicity. - C -
edit on 14-8-2013 by charles1952 because: Add P.s.

posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 10:09 PM
S&F Thanks for posting: I do have to wonder where it will end up though. Usually (IMO) the ones with the money win due to appeal after appeal on the government side....

posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 10:11 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

The problem in my eyes is that most federal and state government is overfunded. Honestly, they shouldn't have the money to fund this type of clandestine tyranny against the people.

posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 10:31 PM
reply to post by Helious

Would you do me the favor of explaining how this is tyranny against the people? The protesters are claiming that the only violation is some missing paperwork. Why so excited? It's not like it's the NSA.

posted on Aug, 14 2013 @ 10:45 PM

Originally posted by charles1952
reply to post by Helious

Would you do me the favor of explaining how this is tyranny against the people? The protesters are claiming that the only violation is some missing paperwork. Why so excited? It's not like it's the NSA.

I would be delighted. You see, a student group that is against sweat shops does not under any reasonable explanation need to be infiltrated by the local police force. It is a gross waste of the taxpayer dollars, an intrusion and affront to the first amendment rights of those involved and gross mismanagement of public assets.

Furthermore, the protesters are only doing what they can to obtain justice, the fact that the violation they are claiming is missing paperwork is incidental and doesn't convey the actual reason for their outrage. In a financially bankrupt country that has become so on the back of congressional lawmaking malfeasance and in the wake of a national debt of 14 trillion dollars when major American cities are going bankrupt, your average citizen, or "protester" as you like to refer to them is left too wonder where the hell their municipality gets the money to fund this type of operation from.

Local law enforcement encroaching on rights is absolutely no different than the NSA. Tyranny comes in many forms and violation of the public trust by targeting groups without probable cause because local politics doesn't like the message they convey is a mismanagement of tax dollars that can not be justified.
edit on 14-8-2013 by Helious because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 15 2013 @ 04:32 AM
reply to post by charles1952

Helious pretty well covered it. They are suing over something small and almost silly in the big picture. However, the cause of action isn't what they are mad about. It's just the only thing they could get this into a court with. If it accomplishes nothing more than causing other undercovers to pause before doing the same thing for the sheer hassle it buys them? It's worth it for the deterrent factor alone, IMO.

The Undercover cops I saw at Occupy were not there to bust us or screw with us. At least we never did anything to bring out that side of them, if that was part of their purpose. What I believe was far more their intent was to keep US out of trouble, not get into more of it. Public relations for the City of St Louis would be horrible if some middle class kid from a high income suburb got gutted like a fish on a downtown street. I'll also say that the relationships I saw them form and knew of were not overly personal or intimate on any level.

I don't know what "Missy" did or how much trust she built up with these people before being busted by them as a cop, but they seem mighty pissed and betrayed. I'd say she got more personal than people there thought was appropriate. (Which doesn't take much under the circumstances, IMO)

posted on Aug, 15 2013 @ 05:55 AM

Originally posted by Helious
I would be delighted. You see, a student group that is against sweat shops does not under any reasonable explanation need to be infiltrated by the local police force. It is a gross waste of the taxpayer dollars, an intrusion and affront to the first amendment rights of those involved and gross mismanagement of public assets.

Wasting taxpayer dollars and mismanaging public assets is not distinctive of tyrannies. Democracies do it, too. And I am not convinced anyone's First Amendment rights were violated. Was this group prevented from assembling, speaking, or publishing its views?

posted on Aug, 15 2013 @ 12:13 PM
reply to post by Helious and Wrabbit2000


I hope you don't mind if I address you jointly, Helious makes two strong points, and Wrabbit2000 (whom I've always admired) adds his support. Obviously, this is something I need to consider seriously.

I take it that Helious' two points are that it is a waste of taxpayers' dollars (Paragraph 2, and parts of 1 and 3), and that is tyrannical to target groups without probable cause, but solely on local politicians' disagreement with the message. (Parts of Paragraphs 1 and 3)

Without meaning to be offensive, I feel I'm in a "target rich environment." Let's start at the beginning.

You see, a student group that is against sweat shops does not under any reasonable explanation need to be infiltrated by the local police force. It is a gross waste of the taxpayer dollars, an intrusion and affront to the first amendment rights of those involved and gross mismanagement of public assets.
Just about every group, with the possible exceptions of Apple and some high fashion clothing designers, is against sweatshops. Every group has some goal that the people can find to be noble. Banning investigation of groups with a noble cause is banning the investigation of groups. Further, while I think I understand the feeling of "violation" caused by an informant or undercover officer, I can not understand how it violates a First Amendment right. There is no attempt to restrict or control speech by the officer, and that method of investigation is specifically allowed in the same D.C. Act that the protesters are suing under.

Besides, if this technique was a Constitutional violation in itself, do we need to apologize to motorcycle gangs, the Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, Militia groups, Freemen groups, and so many others?

Helious mentions twice in the first paragraph that it is a gross mismanagement of public funds. Believe me, if I thought you could sue the government every time one of it's employees wasted money, I'd be ecstatic. But is there anything about this that is gross? Certainly not the amount of money. The complaint is about one officer who was involved in three protests. That's, what, 24-48 duty hours? As we know, just about every policeman spends hours each week chasing down leads which turn out to be false or dead ends. We don't even know, in this case, whether there was significant information gathered. Policemen are supposed to investigate more than just crimes which they have proof have been committed.

Nor is the decision to investigate grossly wrong. It would have been grossly wrong to not spend a few hours looking into a group planning on marching through the city. The Act specifically authorizes this type of behavior, good luck suing under it for any substantive violation.

Furthermore, the protesters are only doing what they can to obtain justice, the fact that the violation they are claiming is missing paperwork is incidental and doesn't convey the actual reason for their outrage
"Incidental???" It's the only reason they may be heard by a court. If their "outrage" is not a legal violation of some significance (and it's not), then the court is the wrong place to go for redress. If they were serious, they would have gone to the City Council demanding the resignation of the Chief of Police. But they're not.

What they are serious about is tying up the system and turning the police into quiet political tools. If someone is upset about the cost of the officer's time, they should be blindingly enraged about the cost of the City attorney's time. As Wrabbit2000 pointed out, this is an attempt to prevent the police from using an investigative tool they were specifically authorized to use by the Act.

Helious' concern that groups are being targeted without having probable cause, may be confusion rooted in semantics. If the police had probable cause, they wouldn't be limited to using an informant, they could just walk in and arrest everyone. The law says that they need much less proof than probable cause to conduct this type of investigation. It's not tyranny at all, it's legally authorized investigative techniques to determine if there is probable cause for arrests.

If I've misunderstood, or overlooked some points, please let me know.

With respect,

posted on Aug, 16 2013 @ 01:36 PM
reply to post by charles1952

I think I do need to distinguish my own thoughts from Helious a bit on this. We agree in general but not necessarily specifics as you've outlined your take on what we've said.

I don't get uppity over the waste of funds or resources. We're spending 6.4 trillion as a nation this year and thats 10 digits over what the US brings in. Debate of money is almost silly in small amounts by Government until that elephant is slain and stuffed.

What I do react very strongly to here is the presumption of guilt to justify an independent fishing expedition. If this is done with the full approval and chain of paper like is required, then it's done with everyone IN that chain knowing they are at least partially accountable if things are abused or there is some real bad outcome no one foresaw.

As an individual cop just thinking it up and doing it ...or doing it with "half way" authority? Well, if and when it all goes sideways by entrapment, entanglement or just bad police work? Well, no chain means the cop herself is toast (and should be, depending on how bad it goes) but NO ONE else above her will be because "Everyone is to no one is to blame". It's become the national Motto anymore and without clean lines of the 2004 act was meant to supply here? It's the Metro Police motto too.
edit on 16-8-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 02:13 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

Dear Wrabbit2000,

Thnks very much for setting me straight. I see I was over-generalizing your agreement with Helious, and that led me into some errors.

I find myself in a very odd situation. I agree with you completely in practice, but disagree in theory. Let me explain.

The Act allows for undercover investigations based on just a "reasonable suspicion." That's not a very tough standard to meet. I would think that if a group added to it's call for a demonstration the phrase "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight," there would be reasonable suspicion created. The police aren't assuming guilt, simply saying, "We should take a look at this."

I wonder, also, if this was an independent fishing expedition. I would guess it wasn't. If the Chief didn't approve of these things, or was a stickler for the paperwork, the officer would have a very difficult time reporting she had found something. The Chief would be rightly upset that she had gone against his wishes. That makes me think she had the Chief's approval in one form or another.

This, in theory, appears to be a perfectly legitimate investigation as invisioned by the Act. The only thing that still needs to be cleared up is who approved it and how. But there were no violations of anyone's rights and the only error seems to be administrative.

But, I said I agree with you in practice. First of all, in my heavily biased and opinionated mind, anything that happens on the West Coast, New York, Detroit, Chicago, D.C., and several other locations, is automatically suspect as a scheme against normal people. There are too many examples of this happening to brush carelessly aside.

Second, this touches on privacy and government power. Those have always been subject to abuse, even before the recent flood of revelations. Of course we should be suspicious in this case, even if we can't figure out what happened, we have to suspect abuse. Here's one possible path:

Since, under the Act, the Chief is allowed to designate someone to approve these requests, he can avoid responsibility completely by finding the newest officer in the Department and telling him, "You're the new Undercover Investigation Approval Authority. Approve those requests unless they seem to be a wildly flagrant vilation of the law which will get us in trouble if word ever leaks out." The Chief denies ever saying this, the newest officer gets fired in case of scandal, and the process continues. We saw this occur in the IRS scandals. Fire someone whose retiring in two weeks anyway, and go back to business as usual.

One possible solution? D.C. must have at least one magistrate on duty twenty four hours a day. Require him to sign off on a finding of reasonable suspicion, before the investigation starts. As far as poor procedure after that? Entrapment, incompetence, and everything else? That can happen in any case, and should be dealt with the way it normally is. I'm sure there are long standing procedures for that.

With respect,

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 02:53 PM
reply to post by charles1952

Well, you reply with some thought provoking points. As always.

I'd like to reply with a couple things to make it a bit more personal though in terms of seeing it in a different light.

First, I'd want to say that despite claims within the Department, it wasn't proper or legal under the act. Perhaps it was meant to be. Perhaps everyone did know. However, as the Army likes to say 'If it isn't on paper, it didn't happen'. True words...and among Police Departments? D.C. Metro isn't a high rank on my list for benefit of the doubt when doubt comes up.

* * *

However, in that personal way... I don't know your history or background so I'll be real generic here. Take whatever controversial subject you feel MOST passionate about. Passionate enough to drop your daily life of comfort for even a short time to go join a full time 24/7 protest movement. I assume we all have at least one issue that would qualify if a movement appeared to give opportunity.

Now, imagine you're putting your heart, soul and fortunes into it. You really believe in it and it's a decent bunch of folks you have around you in this group you join. In fact, lets say a couple stand out as particularly close and trusted friends. Over time, you get to know everyone and everyone is energetic and pumped for the cause, but peaceful people who aren't looking to hurt or kill anyone.

So, one day your groups unofficial security minder (every group has one.. self declared or not) comes up and quietly lets you and the other original founding members know that among them is a Cop. An undercover cop, there to watch, record and report everything of interest. may say to yourself. That's no biggy.. Cops aren't a threat unless someone is breaking the law...right?

One last detail.... You discover in the end, one of those people who really stood out as a close friend and trusted confidant is actually this undercover cop and all that trust, on their side, was professional and tools to work for more information and leverage.

How does the case look, when considered from that more direct and personal light? Betrayal is a VERY personal thing.

posted on Aug, 17 2013 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by wrabbit2000

Dear wrabbit2000,

There are sometimes when I know ATS is particularly valuable. Those times are when my brain hurts from the workout required by a solid discussion that doesn't devolve into bumper sticker comments. Thank you very much for being one of the few "mental fitness instructors'" I've found here.

Let me give you one brief episode from my earlier life which may explain why I'm so twisted.

I was walking down the hallway with one of my law school professors, talking about this and that, when he said, "Charles, when an opposing lawyer calls you a son of a bitch, your automatic response has to be, 'What, exactly, did you mean by that?'"

More so than some people, I seperate my thinking mind from my feeling mind. Oh sometimes, there's overlap, I've become furious with two or three posters, but it's rare.

But, to your question about betrayal. Yes, I'd be tremendously hurt, it would be similar to discovering that your girlfriend was cheating. My "thinking" mind would consider publicizing her name and photo throughout the country. It would also consider the very lawsuit proposed here, but understanding that it was solely for publiciy reasons. I wouldn't get much satisfaction from it, but I'd think about it.

My emotional mind would instruct three or four "acquaintances" (and they would not be hard to find, grab an anarchist or two and a couple of bikers), and encourage them to see that she had a serious accident. It goes without saying that every member of the group would be searched regularly for weapons, badges, wires, and the like. Or, alternatively, have her picked up by those acquaintances, stripped, and dropped off in the middle of the city. Unbridled emotions can be a terrible thing.

As a matter of fact, I do know a member of a motorcycle club, for whom I did a rather large favor. He's promised me that he and a few of his "associates" would be available if I ever needed a particular job done. Every now and then that comes to mind, whereupon it is instantly dismissed. I'm not that kind of guy.

As far as the paperwork side, I'd (as the City Council) require the police to provide a copy of the authorizing paperwork in every case an informant or undercover was used, and, as I said, to get magistrate's approval before they began.

With respect,

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