Activist Groups Meet to Discuss Next Steps in ACLU-Led Lawsuit Against State Police

Activist Groups Meet to Discuss Next Steps in ACLU-Led Lawsuit Against State Police

On Thursday, July 25, activists, organizers, and collective members from across the city convened at the “2640 space” (St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul Street) to discuss the recent and much-publicized uncovering of a covert surveillance program initiated by the Maryland State Police to monitor anti-war and anti-death penalty protest groups. According to an ACLU of Maryland report, the program lasted 14 months, spanning 2005 and 2006. So far the ACLU has received 43 pages of previously hidden documents detailing 288 hours of covert surveillance that, by their account, “uncovered absolutely no criminal activity.” Currently a Maryland Public Information Act lawsuit has been filed against the Maryland State Police. For the complete press release visit the ACLU website www.aclu-md.org.

Members of several activist groups attended the meeting and listened intently as a panel of guests, including Mike Stark, a national board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Dave Zirin, a sports writer and columnist for TheNation.com, Terry Fitzgerald, a member of the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and Max Obuszewski, a member of Pledge of Resistance–Baltimore, discussed personal experiences of being monitored, the political ramifications of monitoring in general, and steps that can and should be taken in order to expose the administrators of the illegal surveillance program and bring them to justice. Also in attendance were the family of Vernon Evans, a prisoner on death row who, by maintaining his innocence and creating awareness about his wrongful imprisonment, inspired several anti-death penalty groups to campaign successfully for the suspension of his execution.

Also on hand was David Rocah, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Maryland. Rocah briefed those attending on the progress of the lawsuit and urged activist groups to get involved. In a written summary handed out at the meeting, the ACLU stressed to everyone that the documents they have uncovered so far are most likely “not the whole story.” Rocah urged other activists groups to come forward and join the lawsuit so that the full extent of the illegal surveillance activities can be brought to light. If groups feel like they may have been monitored, they should assign a contact person and get in touch with the ACLU by sending an email to nospying@aclu-md.org.