An American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California report calls for laws explicitly barring state intelligence agen-cies from spying on political groups and creating an independent inspector-general position to probe possible violations.
"Often, law enforcement fails to recognize their duty to protect the right to protest," ACLU-NC executive director Dorothy Ehrlich said at a news conference announcing the report, which compiles reported instances of surveillance since Sept. 11, 2001. "Much of what we've learned, we've learned by chance ... This report is just the tip of the iceberg."
Among the report's examples:
-The California Anti-Terrorism Information Center sent police advance information on an April 7, 2003, anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland; Oakland plice fired nonlethal ammunition at protesters that day, leading to civil lawsuits the city settled for about $2 million.
-A May 2003 follow-up protest at the port against this police action was infiltrated by two Oakland police officers, who even took part in its planning.
-The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Homeland Security Unit sent deputies to monitor a 2004 labor rally outside a San Francisco supermarket during Southern California store
-The Fresno County Sheriff in 2003 sent a deputy to infiltrate a local anti-war group under a false name.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 business agent Jack Heyman was at the 2003 Port of Oakland protests, and said Thursday an Oakland police official later had called the May event's infiltration "proactive."
"I call it being totalitarian," Heyman said, calling the ACLU report "a searing indictment of the draconian measures being used in the bipartisan war on terror."
Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar later Thursday said his office hadn't read the report yet, but has a good relationship with the ACLU and other civil-rights groups and will keep working with them on these issues.
"We have done some training of local law enforcement personnel," he said. "While the Attorney General thinks we've made some improvements, some progress, he has by no means reached a comfort level on this issue, and we're going to continue to do what we can to make sure constitutional rights are protected."
After this newspaper uncovered CATIC's role in the April 2003 Port of Oakland protest, Lockyer in September 2003 issued a manual advising law enforcement agencies that monitoring or infiltrating political groups without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity violates the state constitution's privacy right.
Yet Thursday's report says a recent ACLU survey found most local police agencies haven't developed policies to implement the manual's standards.
And surveillance continues, noted ACLU-NC Police Policy Practices director Mark Schlosberg. News agencies recently reported the State Terrorism Threat Assessment Centers a joint effort of Lockyer's Justice Department, the California Highway Patrol and the state Office of Homeland Security received briefs on a Walnut Creek antiwar protest attended by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; a San Francisco animal-rights rally; and an Santa Barbara antiwar rally.
Schlosberg noted that Lockyer and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger condemned this, and the ACLU is talking with the governor's office about legislation to prevent it in the future.
See the ACLU's report at http://www.aclunc.org/surveillancereport/index.html.