By Deborah Dupre, Human Rights Examiner
December 8, 2014
Berkeley, CA — Police, not protesters, provoked one of the most intense confrontations in the Bay Area in years on Saturday night during human rights demonstrations sparked by recent grand jury decisions against Michael Brown and Eric Garner, unarmed black people killed by police, according to protest leaders, who describe beefed up Cointelpro tactics of yesteryear.
Using Cointelpro an agent provocateur tactic widely used against human rights advocates of the Vietnam and Civil Rights era, police on Saturday night instigated raucous demonstrations, turning them violent, protest leaders say, according to Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet on Monday, also reporting that mainstream media is reporting the opposite.
Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at University of California Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science, who oversees this research spoke to AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld about what provokes police-protester violence.
“Do police provoke violence?” Rosenfeld asked Adams.
“Certainly, sometimes,” responded Adams, researching some 8000 police-protester incidents for The Deciding Force Project.
Cointelpro cops in ‘major overkill’
“When we got up to march to the university, the cops went into major overkill,” Yvette Felarca said Sunday.
Rosenfeld says she recounted what happened after several hundred marchers led by her group, Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), left a plaza in front of the Berkeley police station, where they had marched to protest the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.
“The cops blocked our way and stopped two feet ahead of our front line,” Felarca said, describing how rows of officers in riot gear appeared to face down marchers. “The cops lunged at them. They were attacking and it was completely out of pocket. People were like, ‘What the hell are you doing? This is completely unacceptable.’”
It is no surprise that media has painted the human rights protesters as those who began rioting. Cointelpro has always had support of media that it manipulates through embedded reporters, according to Senator Church’s Congressional Committee’s report.
Today we see mainstream news reporting, “protesters angered by police killings in Missouri and New York clashed with officers, vandalized businesses and even fought with each other, officials said.”
And Associated Press reports Monday:
“The unrest in Berkeley follows violent disruptions of demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco in recent days. Five San Francisco police officers sought medical treatment after sustaining injuries during a protest in downtown San Francisco on Black Friday. But the protest Saturday, which included several hundred people, was the most serious for Berkeley in recent days.”
A major difference between Cointelpro of yesteryear and today is that today, militarized police are directly associated with the relatively new FBI/CIA partnership, unconstitutional.
Sunday’s protest began peacefully on the University of California, Berkeley campus, but again eventually grew rowdy and spilled into Oakland, completely unlike rights leaders have advocated and trained.
Video below: DC protesters block freeway
After human rights advocates blocked traffic on the freeway, California Highway Patrol said officers fired tear gas at the protesters, who reportedly “targeted police with rocks and bottles and tried to light a patrol vehicle on fire.” Police claimed explosives were thrown at officers, “but there was no information immediately available on how potent they were.”
The demonstrations, part of the nationwide protests, were the latest of several in the Bay Area, including in Oakland where human rights advocacy is strong. The citizens are standing in solidarity against recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York not to indict white police officers who killed two unarmed black men.
As hundreds of protesters began marching in downtown Berkeley, the same unrest seen Saturday night again began. An unknown someone smashed a Radio Shack window. A peaceful protester who tried to stop the vandalism. Another unknown someone hit him with a hammer, according to Officer Jennifer Coats.
Detroit protesters disrupt holiday activities
TV footage showed “protesters” smashing door windows and breaking into buildings and setting rubbish piles ablaze. Real human rights protesters, however, have spent weeks training in intensive non-direct, peaceful demonstrating.
Coats said in a statement that there was “significant damage” to several Berkeley businesses, that police arrested five people in connection with the demonstrations, and two officers sustained minor injuries Sunday night.
“They need to be listened to and they need to be responded to,” Ohio Gov. Kasich said on ABC’s This Week referring to the protesters across the nation. “In our country today, there’s too much division, too much polarization – black, white; rich, poor; Democrat, Republican. America does best when we’re united.
A “significant percentage” of the country believes the system’s not working for them and can be working against them, Kasich said.
Human rights leaders targeted for organizing national protests
In other areas, police are using Cointelpro tactics on genuine protest leaders leading the national demonstrations against racist-related human rights abuses obvious since the latest in hundreds of white officer killings of blacks.
The long list of innocent Targeted Individuals (TIs) experiencing counterintelligence injuries in their homes and communities grows daily. Before the recent protests, hundreds of TIs across the nation had reported experiencing serious injuries from covert targeted “non-lethal” weapons in the hands of police and corporate-paid thugs.
Rasheen Aldridge is among the most recent TI victims of United States political repression. A prominent youth leader involved in numerous campaigns, Aldridge has met with Mayor Slay to discuss city policy changes in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. He was recently appointed to the Governor’s Ferguson Commission. Monday he traveled to Washington and met with President Obama about conditions in Ferguson.
On November 25, the day after the Grand Jury decision announcement about police officer Darren Wilson killing unarmed Michael Brown, 18, Aldridge was among peaceful human rights protesters who attempted to enter St. Louis City Hall, a public building that should have been open. In response, the City of St. Louis put out a summons for his arrest for allegedly assaulting an officer while attempting to enter City Hall that day.
“Numerous activists in our movement have been followed, harassed and intimidated by St. Louis Metropolitan Police and other local police agencies,” said Michael T. McPhearson, Don’t Shoot co-chair and Veterans for Peace executive director. “The treatment of Rasheen stands out as politically motivated in response to his leadership on the ground and as a Ferguson Commission member.”
Zach Chasnoff, former organizer of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), was also charged with assaulting an officer after attempting to enter City Hall. Eight officers arrested him while he was grocery shopping with his wife days after the protest. After arrested, the officers removed his handcuffs one officer aggressively got in his face, urging Chasnoff to punch him, according to Popular Resistance. Police also intimidated and harassed Chasnoff’s wife inside Schnuck’s grocery store. Chasnoff was put on a 24-hour hold.
Wes McEnany, president of Mid-South Organizing Committee and the Show Me $15 campaign, was arrested this week at the Phillips 66 on N. Broadway. As part of the national fast food strikes, workers were finishing a protest last night when police arrived in riot gear and started to cuff workers. McEnany went to talk to the police, who told him they would arrest everyone unless McEnany would be arrested.He was charged with failure to obey a police officer.
David Whitt, a Canfield Apartments resident and co-founder of the Canfield Watchman Copwatch group, was riding his bike the morning of November 24th, the day the Grand Jury announced its decision regarding Officer Darren Wilson. He pulled over to the side of the road on his bike. Police drove up to him and arrested him, saying they stopped him for failure to wear a bicycle helmet. He was charged, however, with disrupting traffic.
“The Don’t Shoot Coalition calls on Mayor Slay and all law enforcement leaders to control their police forces,” said McPhearson. “Those who ‘serve and protect’ must demonstrate a greater respect for democratic rights.”
In the Bush-Obama police state, however, democratic rights have been replaced with martial law, a police state too many individuals have not understood until recently and too many groups had failed to unite to resist.
“It is beautiful to see this rising together for a better world,” says Zeese. “On all of these issues and more, we are united in our desire for justice and together we are a powerful force.”
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received his now infamous letter nearly 50 years ago, he confided in friends that someone wanted him to kill himself and he thought he knew who that someone was.
“Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited,” the Times reports.
Whether today’s American human rights defenders can really overpower forces of high-tech military weaponry used against them and other Cointelpro tactics to discredit and neutralize their movement leaders is a beauty yet to be seen.