Miami-Dade Police Watched Occupy Miami's Facebook Page For Months Around Eviction

Categories: Occupy Miami
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The email went out to a group of Miami-Dade cops February 22, just a couple of weeks after they'd busted up Occupy Miami's downtown encampment. The subject line was in ominous military-speak: "Occupy Miami: Situational Awareness." Inside, an MDPD Homeland Security detective named Maritza Aschenbrenner passed along her latest intel on the protest movement's plans -- a "Jazz Night" at a Kendall bar.

The email is just the most absurd example of the dozens Aschenbrenner compiled during the height of Occupy's movement earlier this year -- a series of notes that illustrates how the department's Homeland Security Bureau closely monitored Occupy protesters through Facebook.

All the information Aschenbrenner obtained apparently came from public Facebook pages, but activists complain that her work was an invasive waste of tax money.

"[It's] ludicrous," says Muhammed Malik, a host of Let's Talk About It radio show and human rights activist who worked with Occupy Miami and who is mentioned in the emails. "We're paying the government to provide essential services, not to invade our privacy and stalk us by trolling our Facebook pages."

But an MDPD spokesman says Facebook is routinely used in investigations. "Even universities are looking at Facebook pages when deciding who to admit," Det. Javier Baez says. "It's just another tool we use to gather information."

The emails came to light through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by photographer Carlos Miller, who was arrested while trying to document MDPD's eviction of Occupy protesters. The emails show that police had also monitored Miller's personal Facebook account and sent out a note with his profile photo before the raid.

That revelation drew a rebuke from the National Press Photographers Association, which called it "troubling."

Other emails show that cops watched more than just Miller's page. In the weeks surrounding the raid, Aschenbrenner sent numerous emails about planned protests and meetings and general "Internet chatter" among Occupy members.

Worth noting: Her emails always end with the same disclaimer: that her office "recognizes" First Amendment rights and "only reports on [them] for operational planning in the interest of assuring... safety."

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12 comments
Designednow
Designednow

Martiza is a very nice lady.... And Occupy Miami was making stupid comments on TV about fighting the cops... Which is against the very nature of Occupy... And knowing Martiza and others of MDPD Homeland Security... They are excellent people...

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

The Occupy Movement is NECESSARY for our citizens to exposethe corruption which Big Business has infected our Government with.  Every single person occupying the streets andprotesting Corporations is a hero and a patriot.  I was compelled to lend a hand and createsome new posters for the movement which you can download for free on myartist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...

Alex H
Alex H

Aschenbrenner. Hmmm... sounds German. I wonder if there are any "skeletons" in that family "closet" (or her husband's if she's married). If it's her maiden name, I'm guessing Maritza might be Argentine, Chilean, Paraguayan, or Peruvian decent probably dating back to the late 40s or early 50s. I'm sure if someone digs deep enough they'll find a Nazi parent or grandparent. How fitting. Good to know the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

George O.
George O.

Wow. Next thing you know cops will be reading the Miami Herald to get information! How dare they invade our privacy. I'm going to be watching for more of these kinds of "revelations" "worth noting."

Juan Andres Morales
Juan Andres Morales

the concern is that Police considers political activists a threat to be monitored. Public or not, the activities of activists are protected under the constitution. Let's not be naive , surveillance and infiltration of peaceful political organizations is one step away from the repression of dissidence.

HayTeWatchoBro
HayTeWatchoBro

Malik may not like the govt watching what he says, but his contention that it is an "invasion of privacy" is necessarily flawed. There was no invasion, and no expectation of privacy. You cant get much more public than a public facebook page

Designednow
Designednow

Malik is a paid agent of SCIU and is just doing this to agian himself attention... A silly person who has no life and claims he is from Overtown... A place he was too good to go to... 

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Wrong, the government also spies on private, individual pages, because Facebook allows them to.

<Work At Home>
<Work At Home>

Man has made some machines that can answer questions provided the facts are profusely stored in them, but we will never be able to make a machine that will ask questions. The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the an 

HayTeWatchoBro
HayTeWatchoBro

because there's nothing private about facebook, and there should never be an expectation of privacy on the internet (whether you have a right to it or not)

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