Privacy SOS

Chicago police rifled through anti-Olympics organizers’ trash, sent undercover cops to meetings

What's the purpose of the police? Is it to protect public safety? Or is it to protect elite interests by undermining political opposition that runs the risk of interfering with those interests?

Hard won public records from Chicago now show the police department spied on anti-Olympics protesters, sending undercover agents to meetings, combing through activists' trash, and more.

The Chicago Reader reports:

In the never-ending fight against the man—whoever the man might be—it's rare to get a victory. So I'm happy to tell you about Bob Quellos's great achievement: he got the Chicago Police Department to admit it had been spying on him.

Cofounder of No Games Chicago, he's long suspected police were spying on his group—and not always discreetly.

"I remember a meeting where two men dropped in," he recalls. "They were wearing white tennis shoes and blue jeans and had short hair. They just looked like undercover cops."

On March 20 he filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Police Department, seeking all files for "Bob Quellos" and "No Games Chicago."

On August 6 he actually received the files. Sure enough, the cops spied on No Games in 2009 "to ensure that there are no acts of civil disobedience planned during the April visit of the International Olympic Committee," as the police report reads.

The police department's lawyer authorized "monitoring of websites, collection of pamphlets, trash covers and the use of undercover officers to attend public meetings."

The police justified the undercover surveillance on the grounds that "groups and individuals are becoming increasingly hesitant to post detailed information on websites due to the fact that they may be monitored by law enforcement."

Meanwhile, in just today's surveillance of dissidents news, the NYPD and transit police in New York City have been compiling detailed records on Black Lives Matter protests and activists, and obsessively shooting video of protesters.

Another day in the USA, another series of reports on police violations of First Amendment rights.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.