By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 27, 2014
Last week, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) released a trove of some 4,000 documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that the movements of the mostly peaceful participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests were subjected to an “enormous spying and monitoring apparatus” that included coordination between the Pentagon, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local police, private security contractors and corporate interests.
Increasingly, Americans’ time-honored First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and dissent are playing out as open-season on protesters and mass arrests, followed by years of evidence destruction or tampering in court cases.
As Wall Street On Parade perused the new documents from PCJF, one in particular raised red flags. Its subject line referred to the Occupy Wall Street movement as “Friggin Occupy” and it came from a veteran police officer.
The PCJF is currently representing plaintiffs in a class action on behalf of some 700 peaceful marchers who were herded like cattle on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011 during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests and subjected to mass arrest by the New York City Police Department.
On June 7, 2012, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that New York Police Department officers are not entitled to qualified immunity from the mass arrests and ordered the lawsuit to proceed. The NYPD filed an appeal. A decision from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is expected at any time.
The red flag document from the PCJF is an email from Neil Trugman, the Deputy Chief of Police of the Amtrak Police Department, who previously worked for 31 years for the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Trugman titles his missive dated January 19, 2012: “Friggin Occupy.” It concerns potential protests at court buildings. (See image of document at end of this article.)
The bias suggested by this email toward peaceful protestors engaging in constitutionally protected First Amendment activities is exceeded only by the role that Trugman played in a previous, outrageously corrupted court case. The lawsuit involved the mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators who were not only herded like cattle but hog-tied with their right hand handcuffed to their left ankle for upwards of 24 hours – a tactic that should be challenged as torture and is clearly meant to chill dissent.
It all started on the morning of September 27, 2002. Protesters were assembling in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. to protest the inhumane actions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as global corporations’ exploitation of the poor. The Metropolitan Police Department turned out in riot gear and effectively arrested everyone in or near Pershing Park, grabbing approximately 400 protesters, tourists, passers-by and legal observers in the process. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those arrested in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The case has become infamous in legal circles not just for police abuse but for the degree to which the police and lawyers within the General Counsel’s office for the MPD and District of Columbia’s Attorney General’s office, and potentially the FBI, would go to obstruct justice, destroy evidence and thwart discovery in a case which is costing taxpayers millions and has yet to be concluded after 12 years.
After bringing evidence to the court that there had been serious wrongdoing by the defendants in withholding and/or destroying documents demanded in discovery, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund settled the case for $8.5 million, which would result in an approximate award of $16,000 for each person arrested, expunging of arrest records, and stiff court monitoring of the MPD’s handling of evidence going forward for a number of years.
A smaller group of plaintiffs who had been arrested on September 27, 2002, the “Chang, et al” case, went forward with their separate lawsuit under separate legal representation.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan was so appalled by the obstructionist tactics by the police and their lawyers that he appointed John M. Facciola, a Magistrate Judge, to serve as a Special Master and conduct hearings into the sprawling evidence tampering allegations. Facciola filed his report on the matter on December 16 of last year and the revelations are nothing short of breathtaking in terms of enshrined corruption with impunity in a critical law enforcement apparatus of the United States that justifies its existence as protecting “homeland security.”
This travesty has now played out for a dozen years in the Nation’s capitol under the nose of Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Trugman, author of the “Friggin Occupy” email, is mentioned more than two dozen times in the Facciola report on evidence tampering. Following are excerpts where Facciola calls out Trugman’s potential involvement in destruction of the Joint Operations Command Center’s (JOCC) detailed written account of the events on the day of the mass arrests, including missing details on who ordered the arrests, the involvement of outside entities such as the FBI and homeland security personnel, and any factual basis for ordering the arrests. The document was known internally as the “JOCC Running Resume”:
“Neil Trugman was employed by the MPD as a Law Enforcement Intelligence Coordinator between August 2000 and February 2004. He previously served as a detective with the MPD. In September 2002, Trugman was assigned to work with Stephen Gaffigan in the Office of Quality Assurance. Trugman’s responsibilities included ‘managing  the Synchronized Operations Command Center’ and ‘manag[ing] the command center during those special events and prepar[ing] the outside agencies who would have a seat in the room.’ Gaffigan testified: ‘[T]he prime person that managed the operations of the JOCC was Mr. Neil Trugman. He was there, assigned to the JOCC pretty much the whole time.’…
[Regarding who might have pressed the delete key on the computer to destroy the JOCC Running Resume…] “According to Kant, only administrators and above (i.e., those who were administering the quality of data inside the application), had delete rights. Kant testified that besides himself, Charlie O’Connell, and John Hughes (NC4 employees), Officer Stephen Bias and ‘possibly’ Trugman were also administrators with delete rights. Kant testified that he thought that Bias had delete rights because he was helping to deploy the system at the time and was ‘sort of the first user on the system or being what we term maybe a super user.’ Kant testified that he thought that Trugman had delete rights because ‘he was running the operation and had access to the Sys. Admin. Accounts.’…
“[Douglas] Jones [Sergeant in the Fusion Divison of the MPD] also stated in an affidavit that ‘sometime in 2003,’ he ‘provided Mr. Trugman [with] a copy of the running resume along with the location of the associated electronic files.’ When Jones later conducted a digital search for the GroupSystems JOCC Running Resume, he was unable to locate the file…
“Sometime after the IMF/World Bank demonstration, but prior to the ‘Malvo/Muhammad/sniper incident,’ Trugman ‘approached [Jones] in the hallway, fifth floor headquarters, as I was leaving. And he asked me for a copy of the [JOCC Running] resume.’ Trugman also asked Jones for the electronic location of the file containing the September 27, 2002, JOCC Running Resume. Jones believes that Trugman asked him for access to the system and a user name and password. Jones had never before been asked for this type of information…Jones recalls that Trugman specifically told him to not email a copy of the September 27, 2002, JOCC Running Resume. Jones had never before been told not to email a copy of the JOCC Running Resume…
“Following this interaction with Trugman, Jones printed out the September 27, 2002 JOCC Running Resume information the following day and ‘wrote the actual address where on the server this file was and handed that to [Trugman] as well. So I gave him a copy of that [JOCC Running] resume and the file name and location for that file.’ Jones also provided Trugman with a user name and password to the system. At the time Trugman made his request of Jones, the JOCC Running Resume for September 27, 2002, existed…”
More skullduggery came to light when John Strader, a police officer with the DC MPD for over 18 years, was rummaging through an old file cabinet full of take-out menus and snacks and discovered the JOCC Running Resume in bound booklet form sometime between October 7, 2009 and December 31, 2009. According to the Facciola report, Strader delivered the JOCC Running Resume to Jeffrey Herold, an MPD Captain, who testified that he, in turn, delivered it to the MPD’s General Counsel’s office. The document was never turned over to plaintiffs’ counsel.
On August 31, 2011, the Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, Kristopher Baumann, wrote to Judge Sullivan to advise that Officer Strader had turned to him for assistance in filing an affidavit with the court to allege wrongdoing on the part of Terrence Ryan, General Counsel to the MPD. Baumann wrote that “Mr. Ryan and representatives from the District made several attempts to convince Officer Strader to misidentify the document he found and to alter his statements about the document. Officer Strader believes the District is trying to intimidate him in an effort to influence his statements and is being intentionally deceptive about potential evidence in the Pershing Park cases.”
Earlier this month, lawyers for the remaining plaintiffs in the Pershing Park case filed a status report with the Court. They told the Court that “after years of litigation, every direct item of contemporaneous documentary evidence of the circumstances of the actual arrest in this case – actual, hard copies of the Running Resume to computer records to audio and video tapes – has been compromised or is missing. Indeed, the evidence before the Special Master clearly demonstrated: The District lost (or destroyed) twelve hard paper copies of the JOCC Running Resume. It spent years denying the existence of any record of the Running Resume, including statements to both this Court and Judge Sporkin, although a District witness testified that he personally delivered the hard copies to ranking police officials.” Judge Sullivan has scheduled a status hearing in the case for June 3.
Two outside entities with involvement in the Pershing Park case are the FBI and the U.S. Navy – yes, the military.
On July 10, 2007, Judge Sullivan wrote that the “FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (‘JTTF’) personnel engaged in intelligence gathering through crowd surveillance. He noted that the FBI also “provided portable fingerprint processing equipment and thirteen FBI employees from the Criminal Justice Information System (‘CJIS’) Division to operate that equipment, in order to assist with post-arrest identification of those individuals arrested in Pershing Park.”
Judge Sullivan noted further that “CJIS personnel digitally scanned all fingerprint cards for fingerprints taken by the MPD and entered identification data from the cards into the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (‘IAFIS’) — an FBI database that matches scanned fingerprints against existing fingerprints in the system…Such information is maintained in the FBI’s Fingerprint Identification Records System (‘FIRS’) and the National Crime Information Center (‘NCIC’) Interstate Identification Index. Finally, some CJIS personnel took pictures in the MPD gymnasium with their own cameras. Some of the arrestees appear in some of these photographs. The FBI claims, however, that these photographs are not of individual arrestees, were not taken at the direction of FBI personnel or with FBI equipment.”
One Associated Press reporter, Eric Tucker, became curious about the involvement of the U.S. Navy and filed a letter with the court asking to have the material unsealed. Tucker wrote:
“A witness in the litigation, Officer John Strader, testified before Your Honor on November 8, 2012. During the course of his testimony, he made reference to having discovered ‘a receipt to the United States Navy’ in preparing for his court appearance. He further described having come upon an agreement under which the navy would provide ‘satellite, encrypted phones for the command staff, and that they would beam video from the scene to the JOCC.’ He said the police department had turned over said documents for placement in an evidence box.”
Tucker went on to tell the court that despite the MPD’s Freedom of Information Act Office telling him they had no records responsive to this, Tucker had filed other public record requests and turned up a contract listing between the District of Columbia government and the Naval Research Laboratory for use of a “satellite uplink facility, at a cost of $28,909.00, for use on the weekend that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, and resulting demonstrations, occurred.”
Indeed, the Naval Research Laboratory notes on its web site that “Fully developed following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City, InfraLynx has previously been deployed to high profile events such as the 2002 IMF World Bank Conference; the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Superbowl XXXVII in San Diego, California.”
Is it legal for the U.S. military to involve itself and its equipment in peaceful protests? As it turns out, on February 27, 2013, the Department of Defense issued an instruction “clarifying the rules for the involvement of military forces in civilian law enforcement.”
On September 23, 2011, the PCJF filed a report with Judge Sullivan, assessing if the DC MPD was fulfilling its obligations under the settlement in terms of evidence handling and other matters. PCJF wrote that “due to ongoing concerns and new disclosures regarding loss, destruction and tampering of evidence involving the D. C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Office of General Council (OGC), the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund recommends that a referral be made for criminal investigation and prosecution to the Department of Justice for action by the Public Integrity Division, the Civil Rights Division or whichever special attorney or specialized division is deemed most suitable by the U.S. Attorney General; or for the appointment of special counsel consistent with the statutory authority provided in 28 Us. e. § 515.”
The PCJF wasn’t buying the idea that the District had referred the matter for criminal investigation to the FBI, writing to Judge Sullivan: “The PCJF believes that the FBI WFO [Washington Field Office] is conflicted out of any investigation into evidence destruction or tampering by the OGC [Office of General Counsel]. As also discussed in the accompanying comments, there are prior incidents of evidence loss and withholding by the OGC including related to specific activities of the Washington Field Office of the FBI in connection with the Bolger v District of Columbia matter also handled by counsel at the PCJP. In light of the inextricably entwined joint actions of the FBI WFO with the MPD in connection with mass demonstrations including joint operations in the September 27, 2002 Command Center, and such other reasons as stated, the PCJF believes that the Washington Field Office of the FBI is conflicted out of performing such investigation.”
The PCJF told Judge Sullivan that what had happened in the Pershing Park case had happened previously in another case in terms of the General Counsel, Terrence Ryan, withholding key evidence. PCJF wrote:
“General Counsel Terrence Ryan failed to acknowledge or to produce key evidence that had been delivered to him by a Lieutenant in connection with the savage beating of protestors in the face with batons in Becker v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 01-00811 (PLF) (April, 2000 IMF/World Bank protests). For five years the MPD denied possessing any information or knowledge of the beatings that involved a full platoon of officers and resulted in protestors’ broken noses and teeth. After five years, a breakthrough discovery by plaintiffs led to the identification of the platoon leader as Lieutenant Linda Gilmore. When Gilmore gave her sworn statement, she attested that at the time of the events she learned of a video tape of her platoon, obtained a copy, and — recognizing its legal significance – – personally delivered the tape to General Counsel Terrence Ryan. The tape had never been produced in discovery. Yet, Gilmore had personally delivered the tape to Ryan at the time of the underlying events.”
PCJF told the court that in yet another case, Bolger v. District of Columbia, the District was sanctioned nearly $100,000 after the Office of General Counsel repeatedly — and falsely — denied the existence of an April, 2002 JOCC Running Resume. The PCJF was able to recover the Running Resume in that matter only after extensive litigation.
In the Bolger matter, the PCJF explained to the court, the Running Resume contained “proof the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) agents had been on the scene of a mass false arrest questioning demonstrators about their political associations, activities and even religious views. The FBI and the MPD had denied during the course of this litigation that this had occurred or that the FBI had been present until the PCJF was able to uncover the document. See Editorial, The Washington Post, A Black Mark…”
One of the groups Neil Trugman lists on his LinkedIn profile is the FBI National Academy Associates – a taxpayer subsidized nonprofit, which, to the average reader, sounds like it has a formal relationship with the FBI.
According to its web site, “the National Academy and the FBI’s ‘Field Police Training Program’ provide a wide range of leadership and specialized training, as well as an opportunity for professional law enforcement officials to share ideas, techniques, and experiences.”
The FBI National Academy Associates is also soliciting unseemly corporate sponsorships ranging from an annual $75,000 to become a “Strategic Alliance Sponsor” (“truly like family”) to $50,000 for a “Diamond” sponsorship or $25,000 for “Platinum.” Lesser amounts for corporate tie-ins are also available.
This conjures up reports of JPMorgan Chase (now a 2-count felon with a deferred prosecution agreement) doling out $4.6 million to the nonprofit NYPD Foundation just around the time that Occupy Wall Street protesters were being herded like cattle on the Brooklyn Bridge in mass arrests; this while JPMorgan sits cozy in the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, a high-tech spy center where it and fellow miscreants on Wall Street work elbow to elbow with the NYPD to keep tabs on the comings and goings of law-abiding citizens in the Big Apple.
In PCJF’s current class action on behalf of those arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge while marching in support of Occupy Wall Street, Judge Jed Rakoff wrote: “What a huge debt this nation owes to its ‘troublemakers.’ From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King, Jr., they have forced us to focus on problems we would prefer to downplay or ignore. Yet it is often only with hindsight that we can distinguish those troublemakers who brought us to our senses from those who were simply…troublemakers. Prudence, and respect for the constitutional rights to free speech and free association, therefore dictate that the legal system cut all non-violent protesters a fair amount of slack.”