After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government created “fusion centers,” so that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies would have a way to share information and perhaps prevent more terrorist attacks. A Senate subcommittee report found the centers had little utility in that role, but an investigation shows the centers turned to monitoring Occupy activities, spending millions of dollars to keep track of benign activities authorities linked to the protests.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which represents Occupy protesters, requested thousands of emails and reports by participants in the fusion centers, according to The New York Times. The documents show monitoring in 2011 and 2012 by law enforcement agencies around the country, reporting on religious meetings, Christmas caroling and other events.
The Boston fusion center was among the most active. It passed along information about a lecture by Noam Chomsky, flash mobs protesting a bank’s lending practices and notably, a yoga class. Much of the information was acquired through social media channels.
Centers took varying approaches to the protests. In contrast to the Boston center’s activities, the Delaware center took a hands-off approach. “Our fusion center has distanced itself from the movement because of 1st Amendment rights and because we have not seen any criminal activity to date,” they told the Times in an email.