Privacy SOS

Police tell undercover Occupy Austin infiltrators: don’t worry about that drunk driving duty

Above: an undercover Austin police officer plays around with the "criminal instruments" (PVC piping) that police bought, assembled and delivered to activists, and which would serve as justification for felony charges against activists who allegedly locked down to block traffic. (Note: the charges were reduced to misdemeanors in February 2013.)

Documents released pursuant to a criminal case against the Gulf Port Seven reveal that the Austin Police Department prioritized spying on (and possibly entrapment of) non-violent political activists over officer outreach to stop drunk driving during the holiday season.

In a November 2011 email to fellow officers explaining his plan to assign six officers to do undercover infiltration of Occupy Austin, Lieutenant Gerardo Gonzalez wrote:

"One last thing, for those officers that work in an undercover capacity at Occupy Austin [sic] they will be exempt from Home for the Holidays."

The Home for the Holidays initiative "designates every non-patrol officer to participate in at least one eight-hour patrol shift focusing on traffic violation enforcements" and drunk driving education. According to state statistics there were at least 1,129 alcohol-related automobile crashes in Austin in 2011, resulting in twelve deaths and 403 serious injuries.

How many people did Occupy Austin kill that year? And what was the Austin Police Department doing sending undercover officers in to infiltrate the Occupy protests?

In doublespeak that would make Orwell blush, Assistant Chief of Austin PD told the local press that the undercover officers assigned to Occupy Austin were there "to protect the free speech activities" of the protesters.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.