Skip to comments.CA: Deputy snapped protest pictures - (Two officers, infiltrate anti-Bush demonstrators)
Posted on 04/26/2006 8:55:46 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
As dozens of anti-war demonstrators heckled President Bush outside an Indian Wells resort last weekend, a plainclothes Riverside County sheriff's deputy and another man moved through the crowd, the deputy waving a protest sign as the two snapped digital photographs of the demonstrators.
Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle said that the U.S. Secret Service asked that members of his department's intelligence unit monitor the protest. Any photos taken Saturday of the protesters were snapped "under the auspices of the Secret Service," Doyle said.
But Eric Zahren, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, D.C., said the agency did not make such requests.
"We did not request nor receive any photos of any protesters, nor anybody else, which would be contrary to our policy," Zahren said by phone Tuesday. "We did not make any specific request for them to infiltrate the protest areas nor to take photos."
On Monday, Doyle said the photos were turned over to the Secret Service. "We wouldn't keep any of them. Any photos would go to them," Doyle said.
However, Doyle said through a spokesman Tuesday that the pictures were not given to the Secret Service because no "incidents" occurred at the demonstration. Instead, the pictures were deleted and are not being maintained in files or elsewhere, said spokesman Sgt. Earl Quinata.
Officials with the California Attorney General's Office and civil-rights groups said it is legal for peace officers to photograph demonstrators in a public venue, but there are restrictions on whether those snapshots can be cataloged or maintained.
Zahren could not confirm or deny whether the man accompanying the plainclothes deputy was a Secret Service agent. He cited agency policies barring the discussion of security measures for the president.
Quinata on Tuesday described the second man only as a federal agent. Quinata emphasized that only one deputy moved among demonstrators.
The two men, dressed casually, did not appear to identify themselves as peace officers to the protesters. When a cluster of demonstrators became raucous or, in one instance, surrounded a pair of Bush supporters to drown out their cheers, the two men moved in close, taking pictures.
One of the men sometimes posed for pictures next to protesters. Doyle said Monday that he "wasn't at liberty" to discuss specifics of the Secret Service request.
Federal agents may have had information that someone at the protest posed a threat to the president, Doyle said, or that someone intended to incite violence among the demonstrators.
"It's not a common practice," Doyle said of the surreptitious monitoring and photographs. "Our role in this specific event was in support of the Secret Service."
Doyle said he could not remember the last time his office deployed undercover deputies at a demonstration. He said plainclothes deputies were not deployed at the recent immigration rallies, or when Bush attended a fundraiser in Riverside in October 2003.
Deputy Carried Sign
No violence or arrests occurred at Saturday's two-hour demonstration outside the Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, where the president spoke at a Republican fundraiser. Protesters waved signs and chanted from behind yellow police tape stretched along a grassy area on Fred Waring Drive, across the street from the Toscana's entry gates.
During the protest, uniformed sheriff's deputies and plainclothes law-enforcement officers stood watch on the other side of the yellow tape as the undercover deputy and the other man wandered among the crowd. The undercover deputy carried a sign distributed by Comité Latino, a Coachella Valley immigration advocacy group formed this year.
Doyle said the goal would be for the undercover peace officers to blend in with protesters.
Maria Bautista, a volunteer with Comité Latino, said Tuesday that several members of the group felt uncomfortable knowing that they had been watched at the demonstration.
"That tells us that we don't really have freedom of expression," said Bautista, adding that some members worry that the photos were not destroyed. "We feel like they acted as spies."
Demonstrator Keith Barrie, a member of the Desert Stonewall Democratic Club, was not surprised to hear officers were among the protestors, taking photos.
"We're pretty familiar with this type of activity," said Barrie, who said he has attended protests for 17 years. "It's offensive that they do it systematically. They were not inside (the fundraiser) taking photos of the people who were at that dinner."
Several government surveillance programs came to the public's attention last year amid news reports that federal authorities were eavesdropping on some international phone calls and efforts by authorities to secretly monitor radiation levels at mosques and Muslim-affiliated buildings in six U.S. cities.
Undercover New York police have infiltrated political-protest groups in that city, according to the New York Times.
No Expectation of Privacy
Authorities and some civil-rights groups agreed that public protesters can be photographed by authorities or anyone else with a camera.
"You don't have much of an expectation of privacy if you are in a public area," said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer. "When the police are out in public, commingling with the public, there are very few restrictions in terms of what they can do and observe. If however they are going to maintain and keep that information in a database, that's another story."
Under California law, local and state police must have some reasonable information that the person or group is involved in criminal activity to maintain information, such as photos taken at a protest, he explained. They cannot maintain the photos or video simply for curiosity, he said.
However, federal law-enforcement agencies are not subject to the same restrictions, under the federal Patriot Act, Barankin said.
James Lafferty, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, agreed, but was somewhat bemused when told that officers secretly took photos at Saturday's demonstration.
"The notion of doing it surreptitiously strikes me as silly," Lafferty said, who called the strategy "concerning" given that officers can legally take the photos without being secretive.
Such practices, he said, could chill citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights.
On Thursday, two Riverside city police officers attended a boycott organizing meeting of the National Alliance for Human Rights. Both introduced themselves at the outset, just like others in attendance.
"With as many demonstrations, and picketing that I've done, and marches that I've organized, I've never had problems with the police. My strategy has always been to include them," said alliance coordinator Armando Navarro.
"Sometimes they're kind of surreptitious."
Navarro said human-rights movements in the 1960s were often infiltrated by FBI or police spies who would provoke violence.
"The intent was to character-assassinate the efforts of the movement leaders by creating situations that did not play well in the public," Navarro said.
Staff writer Sharon McNary and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Each of those lemmings is frightened.
And so should all Americans be frightened by these communist tactics. We don't do this in the US!
So are they taking pictures of the criminal illegal aliens showing their faces with their non-stop demonstrating?
Will they take pix and videos of the illegal aliens on communist May 1 day demonstration while they are shutting down our ports, nothing important?
I'm just asking.
Or openly break the law by rioting and exersizing other such "rights"
I sure hope so,, face recognition software/technology has come a long way..
We don't? I just spent 2 of the past 3 weeks having the ACLU take me picture and writing down my license plate number.AWB
We are in a war.
People with criminal intent tend to appear in crowds such as these anti-war protestors.
These guys in blue might just be protecting these anti-war-protestors from taking the rap for THOSE IN THESE CROWDS ABOUT TO SET OFF BOMBS, DESTROY PROPERTY, AD NAUSEUM.
Freedom really can CUT both ways.
As well they should. What's good for the goose as they say.
Lemmings are never frightened. They don't know they're lemmings.
That's the beauty of it...
(A more basic reason, obviously, is that such things have no place in a free republic.)
And lest we forget their theme song... "Paranoia strikes deep... into your hearts it will creep... it starts when you're always afraid..."
Noooo. It's not.
"And so should all Americans be frightened by these communist tactics. We don't do this in the US!"
1. These "tactics" are not exclusive to "communists" but rather used by government all over the world.. from facists to Islamist to democratic republics. Your use of the term "communist" suggests that your argument is so weak that you have to hurl that term as an "insult".
2. There is no expectation of privacy at a protest. None. In fact, you WANT the gov't to know that you are unhappy.
3. This would allow police to accurately identify wrong-doers. What is wrong with that?
There is absolutely NO idea that the gov't will use this to "target" protesters, a la FBI under J.E Hoover.
Then declare war. Mobilize the economy, reinstate the draft and get the job done as quickly as possible. But don't use it as a rhetorical device to permit things that normally aren't permitted, then back away from it when it's convenient to you.
People with criminal intent tend to appear in crowds such as these anti-war protestors.
Simple question. If Democrats controlled the White House and there was a freep protest of whatever policy, would you be happy that the police were there taking your picture?
A picture is worth a thousand words.
The ACLU is not a government agency.