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.
You don't think this already happens? Especially in light of abortion clinic bombings?
The point I was attempting to make was not whether or not it happens, but whether or not you agree with the tactic of photographing and investigating all who attend the protests.
But you two, please do sally forth about the horrid abuse by government of those protesting against the war, borders, traditional families, the United States, our military...
It's obviously very important to you.
When one ventures into public, all sorts of things can happen, that's my point.
We are in a war, and there are traitors in the United States.
If any of those protested and snapped, have a VERY suspicious background -- no I don't mean, marching in a zillion on anti-name-it parades, they will be looked at.
If they've got parking arrests. No. How about delinquent Taxes. No. How about transsexual operation? No.
How about if they have had multiple arrests for arson? Uh, yes. Known agents of the axis of evil? Yesss....
No, I would photograph trouble-makers and those leading the groups. I would also photograph those doing activities not in synch with the intent of the protest. I would also photograph those with large boxes and small attache's being exchanged.
Come on Alia, sally forth? I served in our military to defend the rights that you so cavalierly want to give up. I've served in countries that have never tasted the freedoms that some of us are willing to give up because it's a republican in the chair now. There won't always be a republican in the chair and the power you so freely give the government now will surely come back to bite you in the ass later. For what it's worth.
Operative word of focus: "all". Do you really think two guys with a camera are going to photograph ALL who attend? This is fantastic lunacy.
On the contrary, I think things are going about right, or as well as can be expected. I've got some issues with the way some things have been handled, but overall, I'm fine. I just don't think we're at war.
But we are in a war, a war unlike we've ever been in before
You calling it one doesn't make it so. A congressional declaration makes it so. We're in low intensity security operations in a Iraq and Afghanistan. We're in an international law enforcement and intelligence operations throughout the world. We're in covert actions. We're in diplomatic negotiations. We're in a cultural debate. We're in a heightened security state in the US. But none of those, individually or together, is a "war" any more than the war on drugs is a war.
Pot, Kettle, dear.
If you're throwing out cliches, I'll say that you want to have your cake and eat it, too. You want the rhetorical bludgeon of "it's a war" without any of the things that actually go with it.
You still haven't made your point. You are making an extremely weak point. It's along the point of hysteria. And if you think our "local" traitors haven't been doing this stuff all along, then please tell me what happened to make Hillary's mysterious files reappear?
We know Saddam was in cahoots with Osama. You can't do the old "standard declaration" on this type of matter.
No matter how much you wish it.
If you think for one fat second Democrats WERE NOT PHOTOGRAPHING OR TARGETING conservatives up until President Bush's election in 2000, you must have been "out of the country". And we were NOT in a war, then.
It's not a rhubarb. It's Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.
Congress did VOTE to go to war. They voted yes.
Wrong. They voted to authorize the the President to use military force against Iraq. They did the same thing for Panama in 1989.
You can't do the old "standard declaration" on this type of matter.
Then don't call it one when it's a convenient rhetorical device to excuse something, then deny that it's one because "You can't do the old "standard declaration" on this type of matter."
They tell the press that "hundreds" will show up at their whining sessions. The press arives to find a dozen people, half of which are cops.
It's comforting to know someone is paying attention to the bleaters.. lol.
I understand your larger point. But "harassing"? These lefties have major PR operations just so they can be in the news. So. They are in the news. Always a victim, however, somethings about liberals are entirely predictable. Taking a picture is not harassive. Unless it is terrorists taking pictures of Monuments, nuclear plants, etc. I don't think the anti-war protestors are monumental nor productively reactive.
And, you have the last word, Heyworth.
You are comparing a legal activity (picture taking) and an illegal activity (using FBI files for political leverage-ie blackmail/extortion). That is a fallacious arguement. Your posts are long on hysterics and short on logic.
Friend, when you go out in public, anybody can snap your picture. This is a free country. Now when they do something bad with it that is another story.
The authorities, lately have learned that pictures and video can often keep them from frivolous attacks by lawyers making all kinds of claims. Pictures talk in court.
My point is, that if you are going to protest, you should expect that your picture will be taken and very likely to be used by the media or if your are in a melee, by the courts.