They Pat Some Good Boys On the Back and Put Some to the Rod

The NYPD has been infiltrating liberal groups long after the 2004 Republican convention, which was their original justification for doing so:

Police said the pre-convention spying was necessary to prepare for the huge, raucous crowds that were headed to the city. But documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the police department’s intelligence unit continued to keep close watch on political groups in 2008, long after the convention had passed.
In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People’s Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
When the undercover effort was summarized for supervisors, it identified groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling. Two activists—Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies—were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the Associated Press.

Here’s a snippet from a review of a book about the LAPD’s notorious Red Squad:

After unions were legitimized in the late ’30s and during World War II, the Red squads turned to Red-hunting, joining in McCarthy-era hysteria. In the ’60s, they turned on civil rights groups. Here, the cops infiltrated black and Latino advocacy organizations. In the late ’60s and ’70s, the anti-war movement was a target. Today, it is vaguely defined as “terrorists.”

Sounds familiar. We’ve had Red Squads for more than 100 years and it looks like we’ll have them for another hundred.

29 replies
  1. 1
    Svensker says:

    The thing that’s extra creepy about the NYPD spying, though, is that they didn’t confine themselves to stuff going on in NY. WTF are they doing in LA? When did they become the FBI?

  2. 2
    Anya says:

    Isn’t there an oversight over these sort of activities?

  3. 3
    MikeBoyScout says:

    The people
    Will always be

  4. 4
    MeDrewNotYou says:

    Investigating suspicious (probably commie!) liberal groups is a good idea. We all know how much violence the left instigates. But even mention that groups on the right are potentially dangerous and its time to watch out for the thought police.

    (I hope I’m not the only one that remembers GOP bitching about the DHS report done by the Bush administration that came out right after Pre. Obama’s inauguration.)

  5. 5
    PurpleGirl says:

    @MeDrewNotYou: No, you’re not the only one who remembers it. I do too.

  6. 6
    newtons.third says:

    In the abstract, gathering intelligence is always a good idea. However, it does need oversight, and it does need to be done in a way that does not harm the individual rights, or the group rights. Does it make sense to try and find out what groups like the Michigan Militia are doing? Or the Black Panthers (when they became overtly militant)? That is the job of law enforcement. But to target only one political persuasion, or to try to get them to become violent, that is the job of the oversight. And I do not have great faith in the people doing the oversight. As long as it looks like a witch hunt, it probably is a witch hunt.

  7. 7
    Lawnguylander says:

    With two exceptions, every (white) NY cop I know is a wingnut’s wingnut. Not just a 27%er but a member of the subset that comprises 27% of the 27%. They don’t seem to be moderating their views as they move up the ranks and join the Intelligence or the Anti-Terrorism units. This kind of thing isn’t news to me at all. If they’re not up to far worse, that would be shocking.

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @Lawnguylander: Who investigates them?

  9. 9
    Auldblackjack says:

    i grew up a kid in the 60’s to stories my dad and uncle told about how as shop stewards for the NYC subway they worked with Mike Quill, who knew his phone was tapped by the Feds and the Red Squad, to send these proto-wingnuts on wild goose chases with cryptic phone calls to one another about meeting “Mr. X” at Penn Station (or whoever, whereever) with the union guys meeting in nearby bars 15 minutes before the time of the ‘meet’ to watch the Feds and NYPD chase their own tails over a few beers. Good times.

  10. 10
    Culture of Truth says:

    Are they also infiltrating country clubs looking for evidence of white collar crime?

  11. 11
    newtons.third says:

    @Culture of Truth: That should be a much sought after assignment. Lots of golf and drinking.

  12. 12
    D. Mason says:

    @Lawnguylander: Right wingers drive the “law and order” movement, they have an authority fetish and they love guns. Of course the ranks of every police department, even in “liberal enclaves”, is heavily weighted with right wingers.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @newtons.third: What if you don’t like golf?

  14. 14
    Mark S. says:


    Isn’t there an oversight over these sort of activities?

    According to the article, not really

    At the NYPD, the monitoring was carried out by the Intelligence Division, a squad that operates with nearly no outside oversight and is so secretive that police said even its organizational chart is too sensitive to publish.

    It’s highly classy fries.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    The Guard has been reporting on the NYPD for a while. Here’s the observation of liberal groups from Friday and here’s a general link to their NYPD reporting. If you go down to Feb you’ll find stuff on their monitoring of Muslims, students all over NY state and they wanted people in every Mosque for 250 miles. Busy Busy boys wiht big big britches. I seem to remember they didn’t bother to report their activities in NJ to their equivalents there which caused some upset.

  16. 16
    Elias says:

    New York City Cops
    New York City Cops
    New York City Cops
    They ain’t too smart
    New York City Cops
    New York City Cops
    New York City Cops
    They ain’t too smart

  17. 17
    Chris says:


    Isn’t there an oversight over these sort of activities?

    Like I’ve said before… All you need is a goddamn Internal Affairs department that actually does its job. Apparently that’s too much to ask for.

  18. 18
    SarahT says:

    OT – but not too far OT – Melissa Harris-Perry is doing a brilliant segment right now with the fiancee of NYPD victim Sean Bell and three teenage boys from the NYC. They’re discussing walki NYPD abuse, Obama, Trayvon Martin, etc. Anyone seeing this might really want to watch.

  19. 19
    Mike in NC says:


    All you need is a goddamn Internal Affairs department that actually does its job. Apparently that’s too much to ask for.

    I’d never watch “Bluebloods”, the Tom Selleck show about a family of NYPD cops, but I’d assume they like to create the illusion of IA being on the ball.

    Here in rural NC, police department corruption is endemic.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    What surprises me is the reports that the NYPD is conducting intel operations not just outside the city but outside the state. Isn’t the NYPD stepping on FBI turf? Are there admissibility issues with incriminating evidence gathered from outside its jurisdiction? Can the NYPD point to its intel yielding any arrests, indictments, or convictions within its jurisdiction?

  21. 21
    SarahT says:

    Crap – segment just ended. And I was in such a hurry to write the MHP post that I didn’t edit & it’s full of boneheaded typos. Sigh…

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @SarahT: Thanks for the info. I’ll try to find it online later.

  23. 23

    I think the explanation for this is that its a lot safer to infiltrate lefties than biker gangs and the Mafia.
    Also, more fun —

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @Amir Khalid: With any luck, that will get interesting although likely confusing with the cries of “terrorism!” & “drugs!”. There was the kurfuffle with NJ and that state (briefly mentioned at the bottom of this article about ties to White House drug crime money being used to monitor Muslims) also mentioned in here (more background on something called Handschu and stuff going back to the 70s). From the last, there is this little quote:

    At the NYPD press briefing on Thursday, Peter Farrell, senior counsel of the city’s law department, said the city’s surveillance programs were legal. “There is no constitutional prohibition against a police department collecting information. What’s unconstitutional is if they then use that information to chill someone’s first amendment rights or to impose harm on them.”

    So, I guess they’re gathering all this info in order not to do anything with it? Interesting use of funds.

  25. 25
    mk3872 says:

    I never thought they’d put me in the goon squad!

  26. 26
    Nutella says:

    Besides the rights issues, does New York City have so much money and such an oversupply of police officers that they can afford to send them to New Orleans to spy on liberals?

    I guess everything else in New York government is so perfectly run and lavishly funded that they had loads of extra $$ to spend on things like this.

  27. 27
    newtons.third says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Then don’t sign up for the assignment. Or hang out in the clubhouse and get plastered.

  28. 28
    Thoughtcrime says:

    I always liked this bit about these kind of goons:

  29. 29
    uptown says:

    But it’s sooo much more fun playing spy, than actually doing your job. They can actually pretend they are just like the CIA, without the, you know, training, competence and actual need.

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