This week’s cover story about Greensboro police surveillance of activists is long, so long in fact that we had to cut two entire sections out to make it fit. Here they are in full:
The civil rights organization has worked closely with the Beloved Community Center and Latin King leader Jorge Cornell over the years, but a request on the NAACP turned up a minimal amount of criminal intelligence.
One of the few mentions came from former Captain Charles Cherry, who alleged that, “Councilman Matheny in a August 23, 2010 e-mail directed the GPD to look for ways to charge NAACP members, because the citizens complained to Mr. Matheny.” Cherry, who says he was fired from the department for helping officers file complaints of discrimination, also claimed in the same message that Chief Miller intimidated an NAACP member.
Most of the e-mails pertaining to the group surrounded the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that the organization coordinates. A 2007 police parade assignment document names four officers, including JR Robinson who appears on other intelligence reports and future gang-squad officer Ernest Cuthbertson.
The team was assigned to the parade route and surrounding area, aiming to “monitor activity and relay intel to [Incident Commander].” The following year the intelligence team for the parade was smaller, consisting of Richey, Flowers and Robinson, but had an identical assignment.
Cuthbertson was later the team leader for the “event response/arrest team” at a June 11, 2011 NAACP rally against reopening the White Street landfill. The team included six other officers, including gang unit officer Roman Watkins who regularly clashed with the Latin Kings.
Finch alerted other officers that the NAACP was planning a march to address the police department, landfill and other issues in May 2011 and that state NAACP President William Barber would be there.
“We’ll have the source in there so we don’t necessarily have to cover it,” he wrote on May 25, but didn’t give more details about he source. When asked about possible overlap with other groups, Finch said, “I know that Nelson Johnson and the Latin Kings will be at a few of the anarchist events. I’m not sure that Barber would want to align himself with the anarchists but I guess anything is possible.”
Part of Finch and Flowers’ regular duties required them to coordinate with other agencies. Officers in other departments who had attended Finch and Flowers’ training regularly requested the information, and the two spent time helping other agencies with intelligence.
Finch and Flowers forwarded information about demonstrations, like a Farm Labor Organizing Committee protest on May 6, 2011, to other departments and also met with other agencies to share intelligence. Reports show regular correspondence and meetings, especially between officers in major North Carolina municipalities, about various “subversive” tendencies.
E-mails show that Greensboro police coordinated and discussed responses to Occupy with police departments around the country, such as an Albany, NY officer asking for advice on dealing with occupations, and a Richmond, Va. officer cautioning against growing anarchist involvement. Finch forwarded an e-mail with the agenda for a statewide Occupy meeting, highlighting three workshops about the Democratic National Convention (or DNC), anarchism and homeland security.
In mid-May, 2011, the two helped Goldsboro police with “a large number of Pagans coming to town,” a few days later helping Mayodan police with intelligence on an Aryan Brotherhood member and Kentucky State Police about a Klan and National Socialist Movement member.
The department received regular updates on “extremist” activity throughout the country and world, from alleged anarchist riots in Greece to changing outlaw motorcycle gang allegiances. Bulletins, like one from the FBI on Feb. 21, 2012 entitled “Methods used by anarchist extremists while attempting to disrupt a political event,” were a regular occurrence.
Greensboro police were invited to a free training called the “Domestic Extremism Symposium” on June 29, 2012 in Illinois hosted by the Gang Professionals Network. It is unclear if any officers attended the event, which covered several of Finch and Flowers’ regular targets as well as lone offenders, black separatists and American Islamic and Puerto Rican extremists.
An FBI report on anarchist graffiti in Charlotte leading up to the DNC was forwarded to campus security throughout the state — including GTCC, Forsyth Technical Community College, Guilford College and UNCG — on March 30, 2012 and included a request for photos and notification of any “suspicious graffiti on your campus.”
Milton Harris with the Joint Terrorism Task Force called to request any intelligence gathered during the NC Rising anarchist conference, which primarily consisted of various workshops. Finch and Flowers went to Charlotte Nov. 29, 2011 to meet with the FBI and Charlotte police because “they have a bunch of people that they need identified and want to go over the files we have on them” for anarchists and Occupy participants.
They worked with Oakland police to help identify “several of our NC anarchists, including two from Greensboro” who were among 400 people arrested in an Occupy Oakland march in late January 2011. The two also provided surveillance and assistance to Asheville police during court dates for alleged anarchists who were charged with property destruction in downtown Asheville on May 1, 2010.
“We’d be very glad to come to Asheville and assist you guys in any way [during the court case],” Flowers wrote on Dec. 15, 2010. “We conduct a great deal of covert surveillance and have identified numerous state players in the anarchist movement.”
Finch and Flowers were taken up on the offer, and went to take pictures of people and vehicles and identify people in court supporting the accused.
The oldest e-mail turned up in the search is about a call to action for “Insurrection Night” in June 2004. FBI special intelligence officer Gary Evers warned that website called for acts of vandalism at specific sites coinciding with the G-8 Summit in Georgia.
“It should be noted that the web page is signed by the ‘Southeast Anarchist Network’, which is based in Greensboro, however no specific acts of violence are known for Greensboro at this time,” Evers wrote.
Around the same time, Evers offered Greensboro police a 347-page anarchist manual and “other information concerning anarchists,” the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front on a disc.