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The Cop Group Coordinating the Occupy Crackdowns

A national group with ties to Homeland Security helped plan the Occupy Oakland busts

by Shawn Gaynor

November 18, 2011

As cities across America evict encampments of the Occupy Wall Street movement, similarities of timing, talking points and tactics among major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs have led critics to wonder: Is some sort of national coordination going on?

The White House says there’s no federal oversight. Speaking November 15 aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “The president’s position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues.”

But a little-known but influential private membership based organization has placed itself at the center of advising and coordinating the crackdown on the encampments. The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. The group has distributed a recently published guide on policing political events.

[Follow the below link to access this guide – Berkeley Copwatch]

Speaking to Democracy Now! On November 17, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler acknowledged PERF’s coordination of a series of conference-call strategy sessions with big-city police chiefs. These calls were distinct from the widely reported national conference calls of major metropolitan mayors.

The coordination of political crackdowns on the Occupy movement has been conducted behind closed doors, with city officials and PERF refusing to say how many cities participated in the conference calls and the exact nature of the discussions. Reports of at least a dozen cities and some indication of as many as 40 accepting PERF advice and/or strategic documents include San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Portland, Oakland, Atlanta, and Washington DC.

The San Francisco Police Department and Mayor Ed Lee’s office did not returned the Guardian’s request for comment about the PERF calls by press time. However, Oakland interim Police Chief Howard Jordan was quoted by the Associated Press confirming Oakland and San Francisco police involvement in the strategy sessions.

PERF coordinated a November 10 conference call with city police chiefs across the country – and many of these cities undertook crackdowns shortly afterward.

“We know that there were influential conference calls of private groups that include police chiefs who played key roles in repressing the anti-globalization movement, in order to stage rolling attacks on occupations across the country,” said Baruca Peller, an organizer for Occupy Oakland. “In less than a week an unprecedented number of protesters have been brutalized and arrested, and in many cities such as Oakland these evictions were pushed for by the local one-percent.”

“Occupy Oakland is calling for a national day of re-occupation on Saturday, to let them know that if they can take a national offensive against us, we can take a national offensive in response and we will re-take these public spaces and what is already ours.”

According to PERF’s website, general membership in the group is exclusive to “the executive head of a municipal, county or state-funded agency that provides general police services. The agency must have at least 100 full-time employees, or serve a population of 50,000 or more people.”

PERF’s current and former directors read as a who’s who of police chiefs involved in crackdowns on anti-globalization and political convention protesters resulting in thousands of arrests, hundreds of injuries, and millions of dollars paid out in police brutality and wrongful arrest lawsuits.