The ability to speak freely and peacefully protest government policies is a cherished right, as enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A confidential FBI memo leaked to the New York Times confirms however that the federal government is targeting innocent Americans engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent.
In the memo the FBI advocates spying on peaceful protesters and indicates that protesters who engage in civil disobedience or other disruptive acts should be treated like potential terrorists. It confirms that the government has monitored the actions of peaceful protesters and wants intelligence about protesters to be reported to the nearest FBI field office or terrorism task force.
Peaceful protesters should not be treated as potential terrorists nor spied upon by federal government agents. Not only is this a misuse of public funds that could be used to find real terrorists, it chills free speech activities and inhibits the public debate on important issues.
Take Action! Let Attorney General Ashcroft know that you support the First Amendment and oppose government surveillance of peaceful protests.
Spying by law enforcement on peaceful protestors chills free speech.
People will hesitate to participate in free speech activities if they think they will be monitored and given a dossier. This could apply to marches, gatherings or even townhall forums.
Peacefully protesting does not make someone a terrorist.
Citing no specific intelligence of suspected unlawful activity by the protesters, the memorandum describes protest tactics and strategies that should be tracked by law enforcement officials including the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
Anti-terrorist resources should not be used to monitor peaceful protestors.
Documents recently obtained by the ACLU of Colorado as part of its ""Spy Files"" lawsuit against Denver police confirmed that the local terrorism task force has been collecting information about peaceful protest activities that have nothing to do with terrorism or any other criminal activity.
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