UNDER SURVEILLANCE: How Greensboro police monitor activists
From Yes Weekly!
By Eric Ginsberg
Anyone who has ever been involved in grassroots organizing, a social movement or activism has probably wondered at least once, if not frequently, about if they are being watched. Though police surveillance is no secret — uniformed officers regularly videotape legal protests, for example — what happens with the intelligence is usually a mystery to the public.
In early high school I started participating in anti-war protests and organizing, and before I graduated my mom toyed with the idea of requesting my FBI file. At Guilford College, I continued to organize, on campus and with community groups. Before pursuing journalism more seriously, I worked for two social-justice nonprofits including the Beloved Community Center, all the while aware of police surveillance of the different projects I was connected to.
Eventually the curiosity got to me, and I filed a request with the city for e-mail records with my name as the keyword. I’ve never been arrested, but I knew assumptions of surveillance weren’t just paranoia.
The results were disappointing — there was almost no information about police surveillance — so I kept digging. The department’s criminal intelligence work is shrouded in mystery, and the lack of transparency made me determined to see what else I could find.
In some cases, the documents were jarring — police infiltration of Occupy Greensboro, a council member reporting on activist meetings and a list of the surveillance successes at an anarchist conference in town.
Who they are
The criminal intelligence division has taken different forms over the years. Most recently, the two-man team of officers Steven Kory Flowers and Rob Finch has held down the job, providing surveillance on a range of groups the department considers to be “subversive” or “fringe” on the right and the left. Biographical statements on the two men are identical except for stating that Flowers has been in the unit since 2007 and Finch was assigned a year later.
“His daily responsibilities involve monitoring, documenting and prosecuting subversive criminal groups and organizations that include sovereign citizens/antigovernment extremists, outlaw motorcycle gangs, anarchists, separatists and animal/earth extremists,” the statements on both read. “He is well versed on covert and overt surveillance techniques used during intelligence operations involving these subversive groups and has worked several large regional and national events in multiple jurisdictions.”
They also cover white supremacists, gun enthusiasts, abortion activists, political bloggers and any protest activity in Greensboro. They gather information in a plethora of ways — fake Facebook profiles, “trash pulls,” confidential informants, taking surveillance footage and infiltrating groups.
E-mails show the pair is respected as experts in their field. They regularly teach classes and trainings throughout the state on the groups they monitor, coordinate with other law enforcement agencies from the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI to security on college campuses.
Multiple public-information requests filed with the city of Greensboro aimed at the department’s surveillance of residents provide an overview of the type of work the pair has conducted and how they’ve gone about collecting information, but is not an exhaustive search of their activities.
Information in the requests directly pertained to the groups and categories requested — several requests, including ones on white supremacists, were not processed in time for this article. The requests only cover e-mail correspondence, several of which refer to much more expansive files on people with photographs, known associates, residences, cars and other information gathered. These files were not transmitted electronically but moved — between Greensboro police and the FBI, for example — on discs at face-to-face meetings avoiding a paper trail.
Criminal intelligence is not necessarily connected to particular crimes, but targets specific kinds of organizations and builds files that could be used at a later date if needed. Just like the activists and “subversives” that were under surveillance for legal activity, the department’s intelligence gathering is not illegal either, but many could be surprised to learn the extent to which they were monitored and where the information came from.
According to e-mails from Finch and Flowers, they spend a significant amount of time monitoring websites. In a March 2011 e-mail, Flowers listed nine websites they monitor regularly, ranging from local bloggers to the Animal Liberation Front’s press office (despite no activity in the area), two of which had my name on them.
Nestled on the list between a gun enthusiast forum and the Peace & Justice Network was me — a link to my old blog that allegedly had “very up-to-date anarchist and leftist news for Greensboro” and the now-defunct Greensboro Indymedia, a group I was a part of but that Flowers put my name on, calling it “Ginsburg’s public page for anarchist news/photos/concerts/ etc.”
Despite having filed a public-information request on myself out of curiosity, I didn’t see this e-mail until I was clicking through a much more massive request on the Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation, and I immediately wondered what else was missing.
None of the public-information requests uncovered an expansive list of individuals who the police watch, though some names came up repeatedly. The number extends beyond Flowers’ 2011 list, which also included Fecund Stench blogger Jeff Martin — a June 2008 e-mail from Sgt. Mike Richey to Finch directed him to monitor five other websites including a blog by former city council candidate Ryan Shell, the Interactive Resource Center Director Liz Seymour’s blog, Asheville Indymedia and the HIVE.
Flowers listed eight other websites in a Dec. 12, 2011 e-mail that he monitors daily, including international anarchist and white power websites, two white “sovereign” groups and Greensboro Indymedia, which he noted had a “lot of cop-hating.”
I focused on a few search terms, but requests filed Nov. 16, 2012 for “communist” and “communism”; “Palestine,” “Palestinian,” “candlelight vigil,” “Gaza”and “Israel”; “war” and “protest”, “Iraq” and “peace”; “socialism”; “Indymedia”; and “HIVE” were not processed in time for the article. In the interest of space, the details of the NAACP search and the department’s collaboration with other law enforcement agencies are available at yesweeklyblog.blogspot.com.
What they monitored
As the protest monitoring for a typical month shows, Flowers and Finch spent their time on everything from a postal workers’ protest at a congressional office to gathering and providing intelligence on groups like Equality NC protesting against “the anti-gay constitutional amendment.” The officers, and others who worked with them, sat in on city council meetings undercover, watched MoveOn and ACLU protests, attended student demonstrations like one against rape at UNCG and met with school resource officers about students who might be affiliated with anarchists at Southwest Middle School and an alleged neo-Nazi following at Northeast Guilford.
The division’s work predates Flowers and Finch — Sergeant William Fox in the intelligence section of the department’s metropolitan bureau sent an e-mail in October 2005 outlining upcoming events of interest. It included an anti-abortion protest, a demonstration against police brutality noting that there would be “local anarchists beating drums etc.,” an anti-war protest, a visit by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a Truth & Reconciliation dialogue at a church.
Report-backs from protests the department monitored often list “notable protesters” who were in attendance regardless of whether there were any issues.
At a protest against police videotaping public events on Feb. 9, 2006 — which the report noted “was peaceful and problem free,” Beloved Community Center Director Nelson Johnson, revolutionary communist Tim Hopkins and two other attendees were listed.
Hopkins’ name appeared in more detailed event reports, including a 2006 protest against then-President George W. Bush’s visit to Greensboro.
“It was apparent that Tim Hopkins and Scott Trent could not control the out-of-town protesters,” Detective James Robinson wrote in the report. “Scott Trent used a bull horn throughout the event and actually advised the crowd not to advance on the police or you will be arrested. None of the visiting protesters have been identified except for David Dixon with the NC Peace and Justice Coalition out of Charlotte.”
A thorough report from Finch about a protest against police brutality on Aug. 24, 2009 concludes “Notables in attendance: Tim Hopkins, Nelson Johnson, Dangerous Person Stacy Forster, Jorge Cornell and several Latin Kings.” Many of the reports are short, mundane and disconnected from suspected criminal activity.
Besides the more specific websites the department monitored, Finch and Flowers also created fake Facebook and MySpace profiles targeting different so-called subversive groups. Officer Beth Sheffield also received e-mail updates when a “close friend” posted articles about anarchism on Facebook.
Three appeared from the same person in a few weeks around late November 2011, and one was about Buddhism and anarchism while the other two were about anarchist authors. Sheffield also received e-mail notification from Facebook when UNCG student and Occupy Greensboro participant Juan Miranda posted about Israel and socialism.
Flowers followed Legitimate Business on Facebook, a former music venue he dubbed an “anarchist concert hall” and which the department took photos of as part of its preparation for surveillance at a Greensboro anarchist conference.
The police department occasionally sent officers undercover to monitor events, but not just to watch protests from a distance. When then-Chief Tim Bellamy met with the NAACP and then-City Manager Mitchell Johnson at New Light Baptist Church in February 2006, he requested an undercover detective to come along. Cpl. Norman Rankin, who was assigned to the detail, noted that the meeting was “uneventful” and that “no safety issues arose.” The report doesn’t indicate why Bellamy felt an undercover officer’s presence was necessary.
Both Greensboro and Winston-Salem’s police departments sent undercover cops to participate in “general assembly” meetings for local Occupy groups. In one e-mail, Winston-Salem police Officer Daniel Battjes forwarded a photo of an alleged sovereign citizen at an Occupy Winston- Salem meeting who was supposedly from Greensboro and asked for help identifying the man.
Finch himself went undercover in Occupy Greensboro, not just attending meetings but participating in them. At an Oct. 16, 2011 meeting, Finch realized Occupy planned to protest Bank of America near the location where President Barack Obama’s motorcade would be passing on Green Valley Road, and he worked to figure out if the decision was a coincidence or intentional.
“At the meeting right now, I’m trying to push the idea that Occupy should concen-trate their efforts on the park/YWCA and forget BofA,” Finch wrote. “Hopefully, that will be successful. More info to follow as it comes in.”
His intelligence was relayed up the chain of command to Chief Ken Miller, who was coordinating with the Secret Service to provide security for the president’s visit.
Cpl. Stevenson also attended Occupy meetings in October 2011, and “received information in regards to Guilford College students drumming up support for protest.”
Police tried to keep a low profile around Occupy Greensboro, with officers who weren’t undercover keeping their distance. Sgt. William Graves explained their role in an Oct. 19, 2011 e-mail to police supervisors and command staff, referring to the Occupy encampment that was permitted at the YWCA downtown.
“We are there to monitor not provide security for the YMCA or the Occupiers,” he wrote. “Keep in mind that this is a nationwide ‘movement’ and ‘we’ do not want to be used by these individuals as a reason to justify their ‘cause.’ Please have your officers notify the Watch Commander if the Occupiers begin to mobilize or expand their area of occupation to city property.”
Police discussed the role of socialists and anarchists in the movement, but Finch wrote in an e-mail about socialists and Occupy that “[Flowers] and I have only been able to scratch the surface on the Zeitgeist/Socialism/Marxist movement in NC,” thanking another officer for information he supplied about the “99% and Zeitgeist Movement” in October 2011.
In a Nov. 18, 2011 e-mail, Finch said the Beloved Community Center and Nelson Johnson “have officially joined the Occupy movement” and that Johnson sent a letter asking his congregation to join Occupy Greensboro. According to an intelligence report for the month, at least five other officers monitored Occupy Greensboro actions.
He reported back on everything from the size and location of the meetings to the participants, saying that by late November 2011 the group had dwindled to “‘diehards’ and non-job having people” numbering between 40 and 50. “They have lots of ideas for their next move but are having a difficult time getting a consensus vote to move forward with anything big,” he wrote on Nov. 28.
The department also gathered information about Occupy with the help of an informant, who forwarded Finch e-mails about different projects Tim Hopkins was involved in and said in one Oct. 21, 2011 e-mail that he had invited Occupy Greensboro to attend a march against police brutality that involved Hopkins. In a Jan. 15, 2012 e-mail to Flowers, Finch forwarded a message “from the snitch” about an e-mail Hopkins sent about Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow.
The department found out about events from other sources who forwarded them information, like a press release from the Spirit of the Sit-In Movement Initiative that Rhinoceros Times Editor John Hammer sent to the city to warn them about a protest outside city council.
Unnamed informants were referenced throughout different requests, but the only insight into how many exist and who may have been paid was outside of the criminal intelligence division. A police Powerpoint on confidential informants in the vice narcotics division in fiscal year 2010-2011 said the division had $45,000 in the confidential fund, listed eight officers with a total of 50 informants, 28 of which were active.
“Some are being paid and some are working off charges,” the slide said.
Most of the information obtained about Greensboro police directly infiltrating local groups and protests by going undercover is recent — though a specific request about undercover officers was not filed — but not all. The department did find creative ways to monitor protests in the past, sending Gary Hastings, who retired as an assistant chief, “on a float disguised as a jazz musician” to film the 2006 Fourth of July parade that police expected Anti-Racist Action to attend. Hastings had a “micro cam” rigged to the cone of his trumpet.
An unexpected source
Even before being elected to council, Marikay Abuzuaiter was known for her community activism. From her direct involvement in the fight against reopening the White Street landfill to her work on the human relations commission, Abuzuaiter built a name for herself around being one of the people. A month before she was elected to council, she attended the first Occupy Greensboro meeting and remained connected, and once on council continued to attend numerous community organizing meetings.
Yet for years, Abuzuaiter has been a confidential informant for the police department, forwarding information from various e-mail lists like the Peace & Justice Network and gathering intelligence at meetings.
“She was a frequent CI [confidential informant] during the Palestinian Protests,” Richey wrote on Nov. 25, 2009. “She called a few minutes ago to advise us Tim Hopkins is planning a protest for 1530 hours at Market and Elm the day after Obama announces a troop build up in Afghanistan.
His surge protest in 2006 was the time we ended up arresting 11 when they tried to takeover the street. You should have the Intell report on your computer.
“Marikay said you can call her, just keep her involvement among us. She was very reliable and hates Hopkins so there is plenty of motivation.”
Abuzuaiter characterizes her role differently, saying she was not participating in events to collect intelligence but sometimes coordinated with police, like when she was a parade marshal for Occupy Greensboro.
“The relationship started when I was in some rallies that we were being targeted for when we had beer bottles thrown at us and things,” Abuzuaiter said, referring to rallies about Israel and Palestine. At a subsequent rally, she said she called 911 when a van stopped and people got out and harassed them, and openly coordinated on behalf of groups like a cross-town car caravan against the landfill. “They needed to know.”
“I’m only in places I want to be,” she said, adding that police never sent her to meetings to send back information and that it wasn’t her goal. “To me, you need to listen to all citizens’ points of very. I’ve been very, very committed to that.”
Abuzuaiter organized a candlelight vigil for Gaza on Jan. 24, 2009, according to an intelligence report by Finch, and about 40 people attended, including Hopkins and Muslim community leader Badi Ali.
Her e-mails cover an array of topics, but a public information request about Palestinian protests was not available before this article went to print. Some information about surveillance of Palestinian protests appeared in a public-information request on Hopkins, like one covering several demonstrations in early March 2008 that said, “each protest was attended by approximately 45-60 participants most of whom were women and children.” The report also notes that people held Palestinian and “jihadist” flags.
Abuzuaiter often sent short notes to Officer Teresa Biffle on events she attended and forwarded information about upcoming events. A March 24, 2010 forwarded e-mail to Biffle included a call to support Hairston Homes residents who were in court fighting eviction and Abuzuaiter’s report from a meeting on the issue.
“I have no idea how many might show up for this,” she wrote. “There were about 60 last night at Nelson Johnson’s church – including 2 or 3 Latin Kings. I’m going to try to be in court.”
As the DNC drew closer, Abuzuaiter sent Greensboro police two photos of a planning map from the Coalition to Protest the DNC that was discussed at a meeting.
Greensboro police surveillance of anarchists is nothing new, but there has been a dramatic increase in the number of e-mail exchanges about them in the last two years, especially connected to an anarchist book fair in Chapel Hill, the third NC Rising conference that was held in Greensboro in May 2011 and anticipated actions against the Democratic National Convention, or DNC.
In October 2005, intelligence officer Scott Sanders forwarded two photos of alleged anarchists to officers including Cuthbertson to identify. One photo showed Cakalak Thunder playing drums while marching while the other was of a man in a penis suit, which one officer forwarded and wrote “Look at what we have to deal with…” Sanders’ actions around the same time landed him in criminal court, having led a controversial internal investigation on officers of color. He was found not guilty of a felony charge stemming from the incident.
Years later, a report stated that on Oct. 25, 2009 “individuals reasonably believed by law enforcement to be anarchist extremists used a Molotov cocktail-type device in an attempt to burn down a High Point, North Carolina business… associated with an identified white supremacist group.”
The other information in the public requests does not mention the property destruction in High Point nor any follow up investigation or arrest. Most of the chatter about anarchists isn’t tied to suspicion of illegal activity except for crimes police feared might be committed, with a few exceptions for graffiti and some property damage in other cities.
As Finch explains in his Powerpoint presentation on anarchists in the state, “it is NOT illegal to be an anarchist” and most anarchists are peaceful and will use “passive resistance and civil disobedience” but there are a “decent number of ‘hardcore’ anarchist extremists” in the state.
The presentation traces the history of anarchism and claims that today it is connected to May Day, or International Workers’ Day, a holiday Finch claimed is just “a day set every year to meet as a group and destroy property.” The Powerpoint includes several surveillance photos of alleged anarchists attending the NC Rising conference in Greensboro.
Some of the presentation was pulled directly from Wikipedia while other slides were designed to make fun of anarchists, like one slide ridiculing skinny jeans. Another, depicting a riot scene, reads “anarchist protest tip #47: Even though you want to stick it to the man, Ladies, it’s still advisable to shave your armpits.”
Finch’s presentation continues with an outline of groups that should be monitored for anarchists, from labor to environmental to anti-police violence and offers advise for dealing with anarchists. The list begins by declaring “YOU WILL BE RECORDED!” which is proclaimed at the end for emphasis. “They will be very vocal/ confrontational,” it continues. “They are often very articulate. They will know the law, especially search and seizure. They will try and bait you.”
Flowers offered a more simplistic explanation of anarchists in a June 2011 e-mail to another officer who asked what an anarchist was. “Believe in no government, no rules, no police,” he wrote.
In a May 30, 2012 e-mail about a state GOP convention in town, Finch said that anarchists “shouldn’t be any threat to this event,” but that he’d ask Charlotte’s “anarchist snitches to keep their ears open as well.”
Despite Finch’s proclaimed expertise on the subject, a list of anarchists throughout the state he provided in a Nov. 7, 2011 e-mail indicates a lack of thoroughness or understanding, lumping numerous outspoken communists into his anarchist list.
Liz Seymour, the director of the Interactive Resource Center, made Finch’s list but was mentioned in one other intelligence e-mail in September 2007 when Richey found a post on Ed Cone’s blog with a link to her website and said, “We should probably keep an eye on it.”
Seymour was surprised that she was mentioned recently, but said she heard second-hand that Greensboro police were warned about her when Occupy started.
“My sister for a while was dating a Greensboro police officer and he told her that when the Occupy encampment went up that the police were given three-ring binders with pictures and descriptions of people to watch out for and that I was on the second page,” she said.
She was told the first page only had a picture of someone with a black mask being arrested. Though she never saw the binder, Seymour said she believed it exists and wears the story as a badge of honor.
“I’m trying to claim it as much as I can,” she said. “I’m 63 and a half now, and you just don’t get to be very dangerous at this age anymore. I believe in ideas that have nothing to do with violence but that I think are powerful and potentially dangerous to business as usual when business as usual isn’t working.”
Around the same time as Finch generated the list, which was supplied to the FBI, the department was participating in “anarchist roundtable meetings” to prepare for the DNC in Charlotte. Michael Speedling, who was the assistant city manager, said in a June 2011 e-mail that he didn’t want to send additional officers to the DNC because “we have enough of our own homegrown knuckleheads that we need to focus on” in reference to an antigentrification protest in Chapel Hill that police dubbed a riot.
In his report on an anarchist book fair in Carrboro in November 2010, Finch listed two notable attendees, including “local Greensboro street artist Bev Purdue,” who appears to share a name with the former governor.
Police made extensive preparations for surveillance of seemingly mild anarchist events for the sake of intelligence gathering, like the book fair and the 2011 NC Rising anarchist conference in Greensboro.
Finch drew up surveillance plans for NC Rising, from a broad overview to giving Officer Stephanie Mardis directions to wear a hat and sunglasses so that anarchists who might videotape police couldn’t identify her. Finch requested undercover surveillance of three locations that were being used for the conference as well as a team doing roving traffic stops, saying the main goal was to ensure public safety and the second was to get as much intelligence as possible.
NC Rising organizers offered housing for out-of-town visitors, and Flowers recommended that Charlotte police send an undercover female officer and to sign up for housing. “Don’t mention anything about the DNC on your first e-mail to them,” he wrote. “They’ll catch it and block you. Your UC will most likely have to spend the weekend at one of the houses in order to attend seminars.”
In a separate message, Flowers forwarded Finch his confirmation e-mail to stay with “Sarah” on Walker Avenue. In a June 22, 2011 e-mail to Portland, Ore. criminal intelligence officer Aaron Sparling, Flowers stated that Charlotte sent four officers to NC Rising, but did not say in what capacity.
In an e-mail thanking officers for their help covering NC Rising, Finch said a “tremendous amount of intelligence was gathered on a large number of anarchists from around the country.” His preliminary numbers said 48 vehicles and 90 anarchists from 10 states were photographed, including previously unknown anarchists throughout the state, that several “safe houses” were identified and that they collected “invaluable intelligence” about plans to disrupt the DNC.
In at least one instance, the department flagged a house in southeast Greensboro that they “confirmed” as an anarchist location according to an April 2012 e-mail. Flowers drove by early one morning and wrote down the license plates of five vehicles parked outside and said “Looks like this house is a jackpot for the anarchist crowd.” When Lt. Renae Sigmon asked how they found the information, Flowers said he stopped “a known anarchist” driving without a tag and traced it to the house.
Cpl. Stevenson listed other addresses including the Green Bean, a house on Glen wood Avenue and the “Student Union” at Guilford College — which is not the name of any space on campus — as ongoing sites for anarchist surveillance. Flowers and Finch identified a house on Cedar Street and another on Simpson Street as anarchist houses in May 2011.
Flowers and Finch initially learned about the conference, the Carrboro anarchist book fair the year before and anarchist plans to participate in a march against the White Street landfill through posts on Greensboro Indymedia, a website designed for political announcements, events and critiques.
Conflicts with white power
Police saw the Carrboro book fair as “a good opportunity to see a majority of the anarchists,” as Biffle wrote on Oct. 22. “The anarchists are the group that is hard to break the network of,” she wrote. “They are the group that protest the NSM [neo-Nazis] and vandalized vehicles and buildings.”
Other e-mails refer to conflict or anticipated friction between white supremacists and anarchists, including the Ole Glory Skin Heads meeting on Huffman Street and the Confederate Hammerskins.
“According to Detective Robinson anarchists from one of the local universities may attempt to cause problems and confront participants at this [skinhead] meeting,” Sgt. William Graves wrote on March 30, 2011.
In Nov. 19, 2010 e-mail about criminal investigations CIS was involved in over the preceding two years, Flowers listed 2010 surveillance of a white-supremacist concert and a related vandalism case “investigated by CIS following anarchists attacking white-supremacist vehicle at event” but didn’t list any names or say that charges were filed.
Several people connected to the leftwing organizations under surveillance by the department, who requested to remain anonymous, expressed concern about the extent of police monitoring, infiltration and time spent on social justice and radically oriented groups. While public information requests are not exhaustive searches of covert and overt police surveillance, many said they intended to file requests related to the ones in this article or on themselves, calling to mind the famous question: Who watches the watchmen?
Want to file a public information request?
Contact the city of Greensboro’s public information officers, Donnie Turlington or Jake Keys, at 336-373-3769, Donald.Turlington@greensboro-nc. gov or Jake.Keys@greensboro-nc.gov. Specify the search terms and time period desired.
About Robert C. Finch
Rob Finch has been part of the police department’s criminal intelligence division since 2008. Readers may remember him for his allegations that Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell struck him in the face in December 2007, claims that did not stand up in court.
Finch’s e-mails take a softer tone at times, referring to FBI agent Nicholas Combs as “Big Sexy” in response to a Sept. 10, 2012 request for information on anarchists working with the Latin Kings in Greensboro. He joked about his prolific cursing and said in a March 8, 2012 e-mail that he might “even get out and do some real police work for a change!” In an Aug. 30, 2012 e-mail he said he would be glad when the Democratic National Convention was over, adding that “I’ll be down there on Saturday to get my anarchist on and riot.”
Other times Finch complained to Flowers about not receiving credit for his work and his frustration with coworkers, especially in November 2011.
“How about the other guys on the unit pull their own weight and stop relying on us for everything,” he wrote to Flowers on Nov. 22. “The command staff doesn’t care about any of this stuff until something comes up and then they expect our unit, err… I mean me and you, to handle it immediately. Great strategy…promote you out of the unit and run me off.”
On Nov. 27 he wrote that fellow officer Eric Stevenson “straight up ripped my info and pulled a Nick Klem move. Wow.” Three days later he appeared even madder about training called “A Briefing on Anarchist Trends in North Carolina” by FBI analyst Stacy Cohen.
“Dude, I just read what she’s actually talking about at this thing,” he wrote. “Where do you suppose she got the info she’ll be talking about??? Think she’ll show some pictures that SHE didn’t take… man, I’m pissed now.”
Finch also expressed frustration about an alleged threat from Occupy Greensboro against a Christmas tree — which didn’t amount to anything — saying “I don’t know what’s more pathetic… them wanting to send a message by targeting a tree or us having to guard one!!?!!” Finch is not alone in expressing frustration with other officers in e-mails — Capt.
John Wolfe wrote to Deputy Chief Anita Holder about the arrest of an alleged anarchist on May Day 2012, saying, “I am of the opinion that the Officer (Gonzalez) made a poor… forget it. That isn’t my job.” Holder said she wasn’t “trying to Monday morning quarterback this thing” in a response that copied the chief, but said Gonzalez may have acted too quickly.
About Steven Kory Flowers
Often going by Kory in his e-mails, Flowers was posted in criminal intelligence in 2007. By the beginning of 2012, Flowers had been promoted and transferred out of intelligence to the Central E Squad, telling an officer in Chapel Hill that he was sorry to be missing out on some of the fun “with the Occupy/anarchist folks.”
Some of his e-mails are more lighthearted, like one to Dawn Karie with the NC Department of Justice in November 2011 where he forwarded a lesson plan on “sovereign citizens” and simply wrote, “Dawn — yo wassup here it is yo.” Two months later describing anarchist collective CrimethInc, Flowers called them “young troublemakers,” seeming to suggest the group wasn’t a serious threat. In a June 2011 exchange, Flowers talked about his renovated den and playing Xbox with a friend who he collaborated with about pagans in Reidsville.
Other messages appeared to be jokes on first blush but actually seem to be serious, like a Feb. 17, 2011 e-mail from Flowers with a link to a music video labeled “local anarchist music video” for the band Invisible, even though there is nothing particularly political about the video. The duo likely shared a laugh over an April 2011 exchange, where Finch wrote “Tim Hopkins is on my plane to Newark… you’ve got to be kidding me,” and Flowers replied, “Dude… wtf.”
He invited Porland, Ore. intelligence officer Aaron Sparling to come down and monitor an anarchist conference in May 2011, writing, “We’ll cover it and eat collard greens somewhere with a nice southern microbrew.” By mid-2012, things didn’t seem to be going as well, and though Flowers was out of the intelligence division he was assigned to lead “one of six undercover surveillance teams monitoring anarchist activities” at the DNC. In the same Aug. 27 e-mail he wrote that he was “still dealing with long-term spiritual dryness and staleness,” asking the five recipients to pray for him, his wife and two kids.