State and Local Law Enforcement: Spying in Your Hometown

Abuses of intelligence powers are not limited to federal authorities. In the past, state and local police forces were known to maintain political intelligence units (sometimes known as Anti-Subversive Squads, or Red Squads), which illegally spied upon and sabotaged numerous peaceful groups throughout the twentieth century. They often amassed detailed dossiers on political officials and engaged in "disruptive" activities targeting political activists, labor unions, and civil rights advocates, among others. The ACLU has gathered substantial evidence that state and local law enforcement agencies around the country are once again using their authorities to spy on or obstruct First Amendment-protected activities of Americans, often in cooperation with federally-sponsored intelligence programs, such as fusion centers and suspicious activity reporting programs.

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