Thursday, March 29, 2007

US Police Spied on Protesters before RNC rally

Watch 25th March 2007 report from Democracy Now!
"The New York Times has revealed that undercover New York City police officers traveled around the country, Canada and Europe to spy on protesters planning to attend the 2004 Republican National Convention. We host a debate with NYPD spokesperson, Paul Browne and civil rights attorney, Jethro Eisenstein. We also speak with one of the hundreds of targets of the NYPD surveillance operation. Joshua Kinberg was arrested at the RNC protests and is the subject of four pages of surveillance records."

Full transcript of programme

Bikes Against Bush

NYPD Debates Civil Liberties Attorney Over Police Spying of Protesters
Joshua Kinberg, at right in a video image, devised a bicycle that could spray the ground with messages in chalk. After his arrest, his bike was held for more than a year.[...] Joshua Kinberg, a graduate student at Parsons School of Design and the subject of four pages of intelligence reports, including two pictures. For his master’s thesis project, Mr. Kinberg devised a “wireless bicycle” equipped with cellphone, laptop and spray tubes that could squirt messages received over the Internet onto the sidewalk or street.

The messages were printed in water-soluble chalk, a tactic meant to avoid a criminal mischief charge for using paint, an intelligence report noted. Mr. Kinberg’s bicycle was “capable of transferring activist-based messages on streets and sidewalks,” according to a report on July 22, 2004.

"This bicycle, having been built for the sole purpose of protesting during the R.N.C., is capable of spraying anti-R.N.C.-type messages on surrounding streets and sidewalks, also supplying the rider with a quick vehicle of escape,” the report said. Mr. Kinberg, then 25, was arrested during a television interview with Ron Reagan for MSNBC’s “Hardball” program during the convention. He was released a day later, but his equipment was held for more than a year.

Mr. Kinberg said Friday that after his arrest, detectives with the terrorism task force asked if he knew of any plans for violence. “I’m an artist,” he said. “I know other artists, who make T-shirts and signs.”

He added: “There’s no reason I should have been placed on any kind of surveillance status. It affected me, my ability to exercise free speech, and the ability of thousands of people who were sending in messages for the bike, to exercise their free speech.”

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