[Guest post from Adwoa Masozi of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.]
Thursday, April 10, 2014 was a National Day of Action against Fusion Centers. Diverse, multiracial grassroots coalitions from around the country held rallies, press conferences, and creative actions to challenges civil liberties by fusion centers, which coordinate the surveillance activities of local police alongside federal agencies like the NSA and FBI. Fusion centers have operated at unknown cost, failed to meaningfully serve a public benefit, and drawn critics including Senators across the partisan spectrum, the ACLU, environmentalists, Muslim Americans, peace activists, and Ron Paul supporters.
Participating cities in yesterday’s action included: Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Below the jump are quotes from organizers, as well as photos and videos from several of the sites.
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, said:
Congress’ failure to restrain dragnet domestic spying is shameful, the courts have sat on their hands for a decade, and the president has finally announced long-overdue but still meager, under inclusive, and potentially counterproductive remedies that could make the constitutional crisis even worse. The fusion center network, in particular, is especially wasteful, fraudulent, and demonstrably ineffective from a national security or public safety standpoint while still offending constitutional rights.
The surveillance reforms under debate in Washington should be pervasive, in order to restrain domestic spying coordinated through DHS funded fusion centers that are co-opting and distracting local police agencies around the country.
Jamie Garcia, a Registered Nurse and member of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition in Los Angeles, said:
Not only are Fusion Centers at the heart of government spying and surveillance linking local, regional and national data collection, they also amount to a waste of precious public resources when critical services are being cut back. Instead of Fusion Centers, we need health centers, community centers, youth centers!
The last time anyone looked, a bipartisan Senate panel found that fusion centers had failed to demonstrate any utility. Moreover, according to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK):
DHS has resisted oversight of these centers. The Department opted not to inform Congress or the public of serious problems plaguing its fusion center and broader intelligence efforts. When this Subcommittee requested documents that would help it identify these issues, the Department initially resisted turning them over, arguing that they were protected by privilege, too sensitive to share, were protected by confidentiality agreements, or did not exist at all. The American people deserve better.
This Thursday, Americans in half a dozen cities came together to demand exactly that.
Action in Boston, MA
Action in Dallas, TX
Photo Journalist Richard Michael Knittle Sr. captured the event in dynamic images for the nation.
Action in Los Angeles, CA
Here are more photos from the day’s action.
Actions in Oakland and San Francisco, CA