More on the Gulf Port 7: Austin Police Enabled Houston Felonies, Judge Campbell is Not Amused and Austin and Houston Police Coordinated Through Fusion Center.
Despite pleas by the Austin Police Department to drop the charges, the trial against the Gulf Port 7 will continue next year.
As a consequence, the Austin Police Department were forced to turn photos, emails and documents relating to their investigation over to Judge Joan Campbell. Since APD insists the undercover investigation into Occupy Austin is ongoing, they asked her to suppress the release of the information to the defense. After review by Campbell, a portion of the documents have been released to defense and are making their way to the media.
Campbell’s release reveals that a total of six undercover officers were assigned to monitor Occupy Austin, but three were apparently not involved directly in the lockbox incident where undercover Austin police built lockbox devices. Made from PVC pipes and also known as sleeping dragons or dragon sleeves, lockboxes linked seven protesters together at the December 12, 2011 Port of Houston shutdown. The use of these devices resulted in these occupiers from Austin, Dallas and Houston facing felony charges instead of the misdemeanors brought against those who simply linked their arms and legs.
The first undercover revealed was Shannon G Dowell, who had been forced to testify in the trial’s discovery phase. But now we’ve learned the names of two more — Rick Reza, shown making a phallic gesture with the lockbox in the photo at right. The other, Deek Moore, was apparently the photographer of these rather candid photos of cop antics.
Questions remain about what communication occurred between Austin and Houston police and to what degree Texas fusion centers were involved, either the Austin Regional Intelligence Center or the Texas-wide equivalent. Since Campbell chose to keep many of the documents hidden, much will remain unknown about Austin Police involvement before and after December 12. Campbell has seemed to support the defense’s position — first attempting to drop the charges entirely and then pushing for a thorough discovery phase when forced to hear the case by a grand jury. This potential ally will be lost when the trial continues in early 2013 — Judge Joan Campbell is retiring, and her replacement will be selected by Texas Governor Rick Perry.
One of the Gulf Port 7, Iraq Veteran Eric Marquez remains imprisoned. After fundraising by Occupy Austin, Occupy Houston and Occupy Chicago bailed him out of a Harris County, Texas jail where he’d been held since the Port Shutdown, he was imprisoned in Dallas for missing court dates during the initial jail stay. Though he now has National Lawyers’ Guide representation, an apparent determination by the prison industrial complex to keep him inside means he will probably still be behind bars on December 12 2012. According to Garza, charges in Dallas could add up to four years to the years he already faces for his alleged “use of a criminal instrument” at the Port.
Activists Question Austin Police Chief’s Peace Award
In an audacious act of doublethink, Austin Police continue to insist that they constructed the lockboxes not to entrap occupiers but to keep them safe as the Austin Chronicle reported:
APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix has said that the officers constructed the lockboxes because they were concerned about safety of protesters and of public safety personnel. Unless protesters release themselves from the lockbox – also known as a dragon sleeve – the devices often have to be cut off, which can pose a risk to both protesters and public safety officials, particularly if the opaque sleeves are booby-trapped. There had already been discussion of use of the lock boxes during General Assembly meetings, Mannix has said, and so the officers got involved in the process in order to keep everyone safe: If the cops actually made the devices then they’d be able to alert public safety officials to how they were constructed. Or so the thinking apparently went.
Occupiers like myself joined members of the Peaceful Streets Project Austin in a small protest against Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at an Institute for Interfaith Dialogue dinner where he was due to receive a peace award. I told David Maly, a reporter with the Daily Texan, that a peace award was inappropriate:
Peaceful Streets Project member Kit O’Connell said roughly 25 people came out to protest the event. He said their criticisms include Acevedo’s ‘quickness’ in defending animal and human deaths caused by Austin police officers in recent years, the recently enacted ‘Public Order Initiative,’ which has led to the ticketing and arrest of hundreds of homeless people throughout the city and Austin police infiltration of the Occupy movement earlier this year.
On a positive note, the City of Austin recently dropped charges against activist Debbie Russell. Russell was charged with criminal trespass at the February eviction of Occupy Austin’s City Hall encampment.
Photos of undercover officers by Austin Police Officer Deek Moore. Protest photo by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved.