#D12 Gulf Port 7: Austin Police Coordinated With Houston Through Fusion Center
For more on the Gulf Port 7 and Austin Police Infiltration of Occupy Austin see Undercover Austin Officer Enabled Houston Felonies, Judge Campbell Is Not Amused, and Kit’s Gulf Port 7 Interview.
Austin Police coordinated felony arrests at the Gulf Port Shutdown with Houston Police through the fusion center known as Austin Regional Intelligence Center.
The pre-trial hearings for the Gulf Port 7 case continued on September 6, 2012; although the Austin Police Department presented the information Judge Joan Campbell requested at the previous hearing, most of it was done in camera — in private, where defense and accused activists could not access it. What was revealed is troubling — that APD coordinated the day’s actions with Houston police through the local Texas fusion center, known as Austin Regional Intelligence Center. This, of course, raises the question of to what degree federal authorities were involved in the entrapment of Occupy activists; I personally witnessed Department of Homeland Security vehicles on the ground at the Occupy Houston encampment on December 12, in addition to photographing men in unknown military-like uniforms who were observing the port shutdown.
Further, it appears that officials involved may have made a decision to withhold information that was requested by Ronnie Garza’s defense attorney. This is in direct violation of Brady disclosure. Campbell’s frustration with the behavior of the state is clear in court transcripts, as she gives lawyers a lesson in this essential aspect of criminal law:
Here’s the thing, y’all — under Brady — y’all can’t make that decision. Y’all need to scrupulously look through any information that you have. Always. Y’all cannot just rely on, it does not look like anything, that is not what you can do because clearly the result is an Austin police officer authorized … bought the things that made this a felony. That’s what happened. And so that information … is clearly Brady, can be a defense, may make, if this goes to trial, may make a jury find them not guilty and that type of information needs to be carefully passed down through the channels and y’all cannot under Brady make the decision.
The state has brought a Motion To Quash, asking that the names of undercover officers and related documents not be turned over to the defense. Campbell agreed to review the documents in camera and return near the end of September to make a ruling. But she took the time to underline the unusual nature of this case:
All right. I’m going to go through — going to reset for about two weeks, I’m gone next week and I’m going to go through this to see what is in response to your subpoena. But I guess I’m just floored after 29 years down here at the courthouse that we’re in this circumstance that that Austin police purchased the things that made this a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. Undercover officers do a lot of things but they need to disclose what they do.
After the hearing, activists returned to Austin where they held a unique press conference: Ronnie Garza spoke to police while surrounded by activists wearing mock cardboard lockboxes designed to look like the ones used at the Port of Houston. After a lengthy interview by multiple mainstream media sources from both English and Spanish language stations, the paper lockbox wearing activists paraded across the street in the costumes while journalists filmed and photographed.
When the excitement died down, I took the opportunity to interview Garza about the hearing and asked several other Occupy members about their unanswered questions about police infiltration and suspected informants; you can see the results in the video at right. Two provocateurs, Dirk and Rick, are known to be Austin Police officers though their real names remain unknown. Also unidentified is a man named Trevor, who was witnessed pointing out specific occupiers to police on a night near Halloween when over 30 arrests were made. Another recurring figure of concern was the man known as Pops, a self-confessed drug dealer who exerted considerable control over the Austin City Hall encampment during it’s almost 6 months of existence. Although he was seen by both city officials and occupiers selling joints on City Hall’s amphitheater steps, police ignored repeated complaints and he always seemed to know when to make himself scarce before their arrival.
I’ll continue to update you here on Firedoglake with further developments.