NYPD infiltrates bike activists

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Anonymous's picture

"Okay, so it's old news. But here it is in the Times.

December 22, 2005

New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies
Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, ""I am a shameless agitator."" She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.


New guidelines say undercover agents may be used to investigate ""information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity""- but also say that commanders should consider whether the tactics are ""warranted in light of the seriousness of the crime.""

Ms. Clancy said those guidelines offered no clear limits on intrusiveness at political or social events. Could police officers take part in pot-luck suppers of antiwar groups, buy drinks for activists? Could they offer political opinions for broadcast or publication while on duty but disguised as civilians?

Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, declined to answer those questions. Nor would he say how often - if ever - covert surveillance at public events has been approved by the deputy commissioner for intelligence, as the new guidelines require.


Anonymous's picture
Zoetemelk (not verified)
Not old news, upsetting news.

This is horrible. It would be one thing (and still a bad thing) if the officers were just in the group doing nothingbut monitoring. However, these examples show that they were in the groups to stir things up, get people arrested, and make them look bad in media reports etc...

shame on them.

Anonymous's picture
SHL (not verified)
Douchebags in football jerseys

Spot them a mile away.

Anonymous's picture
LanceB (not verified)
NYPD infilterates bike activities

Hello Carol and the gang,

If you are going to engage in a protest activity, that will put you on a servailance. Period. That seems to be NYPD criteria. And I support that. To me, you are no different than any other protest groups. Do you understand that? There is no differentiation between MTA strikers, religious or racial groups or Bikers protesting in NYC. Bikers, understand that you are in a sport that classify you as a vehicle operators, and you have to abide by the laws that goes with that. You will not find too much symathy in that regards with general public. And let me tell you, I am an avid cycling fan. Just abide by the law, and stop wasting everyone's time and money....

Lance B

Anonymous's picture
Rich (not verified)
Am I clear on this?

Unless this was tongue in cheek, which can be a little hard to convey via email, it seems that, according to this post, Americans should have rights unless they belong to some protest group you don't like? What does obeying traffic laws while on a bicycle have to do with police surveillance of a protected free speech activity like political protest?

Anonymous's picture
Plenty Outraged! (not verified)
An Open Letter To Mayor Mike

Dear Mayor Mike,

I’m just a humble boy from Montenegro and I may not understand your subtle and clever ways yet, so let me get this straight…

Terrorists steal planes and crash them into the World Trade Center. The subway – when it starts working again – is a beautiful target at rush hour for bombers, anthrax spreaders, poison gas and other horrors. Your city has gazillions of sealed containers coming into the harbor via cargo ship that could contain a super-size atom or hydrogen bomb. And incidentally, the murder rate is going up.

And you bog down your city’s cops infiltrating bicycle rides?

Not only that, the cops seem to be provoking violence during these rides, if I understand the story in today’s New York Times correctly.

Now please, Mike, don’t tell me you didn’t know about this stuff. Your police commissioner, the one who looks like he escaped from a Popeye cartoon, has been flat out defending this protest infiltration business as necessary. And we all know who he reports to.

Well hey, I'm not saying you don't care. I know you’ve got security on your mind. For example, when you failed to show up for the first televised Mayoral debate last year, and there were rumbles about nick-naming you “Mayor No-Show” before the election, you suddenly discovered a terrorist plot to blow up the subway and there were cops and national guardsmen with automatic rifles at my subway stop and just about every other one in the city. We all got to work later and more stressed out with fear, but you certainly changed the subject.

Even some of the Washington intelligence panic mongers said your so-called “credible threat” was highly incredible, but you and Ray Kelly stuck to your guns. And guess what? The minute the attention of the press turned away from your cowardly refusal to debate, the threat vanished and I haven’t been able to find a cop in the subway since. Even with your murder rate going up.

So I guess a bunch of hippies on bicycles actually is the one thing that could really and truly bring our great city down if you don’t disrupt them, infiltrate them and while you're at it confiscate their bikes. If we have to take 50 or 100 cops away from serious business to act like jerks, it’s worth it, right?

Don’t worry, Mike. The gene for bicycycle protesting is going to vanish. How do I know? I found this article:


If you don’t have a browser handy, Mike, I’ll quote you the pertinent paragraph:

“Fittingly, the woman who showed the world Britney Spears' acne and Katie Holmes' cold sores is generous with details that some readers may consider too much information. For instance, here's [Bonnie]Fuller on why she and her husband had trouble conceiving their third child: 'Who knew that after years of bicycle riding, Michael had developed something called varicoceles: varicose veins in a man's key areas?' (We do now, thanks.)”

Now I understand, Mike, why you bought a $600 mountain bike just before the last strike and trashed it a New York minute later. Mike, you’re having potency problems. Well, nothing makes you feel like a big man more than spying on a few cyclists. (Taking lengthy helicopter shots of a couple making out on a rooftop during this vital mission is most certainly a worthwhile diversion, too, as another article in today’s NY Times pointed out. Your comissioner Ray defended the smutty pictures, too.)

Keep up the good work Mike. As Radislovic The Radical once quipped in the tavern of my home town, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for morons to play Spy.”

Your Pal,
Etoain Shrdlu

P.S. I really hate it when news stories like the bicycle spies and yutz cops in helicopters spying on necking couples gets in the way of my vacation. But I was checking the news on the Internet, and I knew there'd be a thread about it on the NYCC board, and I just felt I had to comment. Sorry a

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
NYPD spokesman, a fundamentally bad man, is full of it.

"Carol, for whom I'll openly protest my love right here, notwithstanding my being a long-term happy cohabitator with another woman, snipped a truly rancid part of the Times' story, the part being about the truly rancid Paul J. Browne, spokesman for the NYPD.

The video of undercover/plainclothes cops ""showed officers at work but (they) had always attended such gatherings--not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech.""

Yeah, right. It's much easier to do that when you're not recognized as an officer and enforcer of the law but as just another putz. Hmm, why do we put police in uniforms, I wonder.

Paul Browne is an ugly, ugly person. He disparaged Norman Siegel as ""a hyperbolic prevaricator"" in the
press. I'll spare you going to the dictionary. He called Norman a liar. He never said what it was that Norman said that was a lie. It was enough that Norman defended some Crit. Mass guys.

Browne also said cyclists (sic, but I'll give him the benefit of his sloppy use of language and say he meant only Crit. Mass riders) ""endanger"" drivers.

Uh, how's that? A cyclist going through a red light endangers a driver who is waiting for the procession to pass? Clogging traffic endangers a driver who is stuck behind the mass? The fact is, in all the years I've cycled, I'm unaware of any driver having been killed, broken a bone, or even suffered a cut, or a bruise while waiting for a cyclist. In fact, I'm unaware of any driver having sustained any injury in the course of his killing a cyclist.

It seems some people grow into their names, becoming what they were at birth. Learned Hand was the birth name of a judge; Philo Washburn was the birth name of a philosopher. Is it any wonder why this guy is named Browne?"

Anonymous's picture
liz shura - liz.shura(at)gmail.com (not verified)
NYPD spokesman, a fundamentally bad man, is full of it.

There's a followup to this in the Times, on the editorial page:


Anonymous's picture
Cyclist (not verified)
On Democracy Now tonight
Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Village Voice on spying

"I feel much safer knowing someone is keeping an eye on those grandmothers.


Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
No one is spared!

"At least the policy is consistent.

Surveillance Prompts a Suit: Police v. Police "

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