[Ppnews] Moles Wanted - FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 23 10:32:59 EDT 2008

Issue ­ <http://articles.citypages.com/archive/2008-05-21/>May 21, 2008

In preparation for the Republican National 
Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to 
keep tabs on local protest groups

Moles Wanted

By <http://staff.citypages.com/authors/190297/>Matt Snyders

They were looking for an informant to show up at 
"vegan potlucks" throughout the Twin Cities and 
rub shoulders with RNC protestors.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County 
Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross 
misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a 
campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired 
University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open 
his phone and checked his messages. He was 
greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It 
belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the 
officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in 
just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called 
back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop 
later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be 
used, showed up early and waited anxiously for 
Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a 
casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a 
woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent 
Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, 
Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” 
recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect 
personality­they kept saying I was friendly and 
personable­for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an 
informant­someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” 
throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with 
RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their 
inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s 
Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between 
multiple federal agencies and state and local law 
enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, 
according to the Minneapolis division’s website, 
is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by 
groups or organizations which fall within the 
definition of terrorist groups as set forth in 
the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but 
only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.

For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to 
sway him. He remained obstinate.

“Well, if you change your mind, call this 
number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with 
her cell phone number scribbled on the back.

(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)

Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During 
the lead-up the 2004 Republican National 
Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s 
Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on 
protest groups across the country, as well as in 
Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended 
to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street 
theater troupes and church organizations.

There were also two reported instances of police 
officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully 
instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican 
National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake 
arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was 
“arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, 
“Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to 
push back against the crowd with batons and 
arrested at least two. In a similar instance, 
during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride 
in New York, video footage captured a 
“protestor”­in reality an undercover cop­telling 
his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.

Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish 
was allegedly initiated by two unidentified 
stragglers in hoods­one wearing a handkerchief 
over his or her face­who “began to make 
aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. 
During that humid August 31 evening, officers 
went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing 
pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The 
hooded duo was never apprehended.

In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories 
swirled that the unprecedented surveillance­squad 
cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter 
hovering overhead­was due to the presence of RNC 
protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied 
this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, 
MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task 
force had been created to monitor the August 31 
ride and that the department knew that members of 
an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.

“This is all part of a larger government effort 
to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, 
an attorney who represented Ganley and other 
Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism 
Task Force is another example of using the 
buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on 
people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”

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