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PA: City Police Knew of Infiltration

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  • Clore Daniel C
    Friday, September 8, 2000 City police knew of infiltration, state police say A mayoral directive puts restrictions on undercover action by city officers
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 8, 2000
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      Friday, September 8, 2000

      City police knew of infiltration, state police say

      A mayoral directive puts restrictions on undercover action by
      city officers against protesters.

      By Craig R. McCoy and Linda K. Harris
      [PHILADELPHIA] INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

      The Philadelphia Police Department knew that undercover state
      police officers planned to infiltrate groups organizing protests
      during the Republican National Convention, a state police
      spokesman said yesterday.

      "We told them in advance that we would be infiltrating certain
      groups," said Jack Lewis, state police spokesman.

      The state police did not seek permission from city police before
      starting the undercover operation.

      Philadelphia police "were not involved in making decisions about
      what we were doing," Lewis added. "We just ran our own operation."

      The infiltration took place as the city itself faced restrictions
      on using its own officers for such undercover operations under a
      long-standing mayoral directive.

      The infiltration continued to draw sharp criticism yesterday from
      the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union as well as
      from participants in the demonstrations.

      Stefan Presser, the Pennsylvania ACLU's legal director, said the
      use of state police undercover agents was "an end-run around the
      mayoral directive. Through the state police, they accomplished
      indirectly what they couldn't accomplish directly."

      The directive became binding on city police in 1987, after the
      ACLU and other groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the
      Police Department's infiltration of leftist groups planning to
      protest during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the
      U.S. Constitution.

      The directive says the city police cannot infiltrate protest
      groups without the permission of the mayor, the managing director,
      and the police commissioner. This requirement, say the civil-
      liberties lawyers who pushed for it, was designed to ensure
      accountability when police go undercover against protest groups.

      While Mayor Street and Police Commissioner John F. Timoney continued
      yesterday to refuse comment on the state's undercover operation, it
      was enthusiastically endorsed by Gov. Ridge.

      Ridge's spokesman, Tim Reeves, called the state police action "a
      basic step to ensure public safety in the face of a clear threat."
      Lewis said the undercover work was appropriate to "our primary role
      at the convention, which was providing protection for governors in
      attendance."

      During the convention, Timoney repeatedly denied that police had
      engaged in infiltration.

      At a news conference yesterday afternoon, representatives from
      various protest groups, along with the city public defender's office
      and members of the ACLU, denounced the contents of search-warrant
      documents made public Wednesday.

      The documents were the first public acknowledgement that police had
      infiltrated groups planning to protest during the Republican
      National Convention.

      The documents were part of the probable-cause affidavits for search
      warrants for three vehicles and a warehouse at 4100 Haverford Ave.
      in West Philadelphia, where more than 100 puppets and a large float
      were being built.

      Jessica Mammarella, who was arrested inside the warehouse Aug. 1
      along with 75 others, said yesterday that the protesters inside knew
      there were undercover police among them.

      "We're a movement trying to build, and we didn't think we should
      exclude people," Mammarella said.

      "Those people were involved in almost every process of what we did.
      We're a little bit upset about that. There was a trust thing there.
      I feel very betrayed."

      Mike Morrill, organizer of the Unity 2000 march held the Sunday before
      the convention began July 31, said his group was cited in the search
      warrant, even though it had a legal permit to march.

      "Unity 2000, from the beginning, was a legal action. We did everything
      according to their rules. Yet from Day 1, we were still investigated
      and harassed."

      The protesters say they are also concerned about the return of their
      property seized in the warehouse raid.

      Attorney Andrew F. Erba has written several letters to the city's Risk
      Management Division requesting the return of the property. The city's
      response, he said, has been unsatisfactory.

      "Generally, they don't come in and take all your property," Erba said.
      "What's unusual about this is, they went into the warehouse after all
      the kids were taken out, and they took all the property and took it
      away."

      Morgan Fitzpatrick Andrews, 29, who lives in West Philadelphia, was
      not arrested during the raid. He was putting on a puppet show with his
      Shoddy Puppet Company the afternoon of the raid. He said he lost six
      pairs of scissors, a drill, two hammers, two saws, staple pliers, and
      other tools that were in the warehouse when it was raided.

      "I went to Risk Management. I went to L&I," Andrews said. "After getting
      this claims form, I was told that my stuff was in the seventh floor of
      City Hall in the evidence room. They said, 'That's being held for
      evidence.' "

      Craig R. McCoy's e-mail address is cmccoy@...

      --
      ---------------------------------------------------
      Dan Clore

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