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Police admit to infiltrating Occupy Austin, may have acted as provocateurs

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When the local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street began a five-month encampment in Austin, Texas last fall, the Austin police assigned at least three undercover officers to infiltrate the group and gather information on potentially illegal actions.

According to the Austin Statesman, court documents and interviews show that the infiltrators “camped with other participants in the movement, marched in rallies and attended strategy meetings.”

They may also have gone further, acting as provocateurs to encourage the use of lockboxes or “sleeping dragons” — lengths of PVC pipe into which protestors insert their arms to make it harder for police to remove them during a demonstration.

Seven protestors who used the devices while blocking a port entrance in Houston last December 12 have been charged with a felony and face jail terms of from two to ten years under what the Statesman calls “an obscure statute that prohibits using a device that is manufactured or adapted for the purpose of participating in a crime.”

The question of the lockboxes came up during a district court hearing in Harris County this week at which one of those seven, Ronnie Garza, sought to have the charge against him dropped. It was disclosed at the hearing that Austin Police Detective Shannon Dowell — known to Occupiers as “Butch” — had purchased the necessary pipe and other materials using funds supplied by Occupy Austin, constructed the devices himself, and provided them to demonstrators.

According to Occupy Austin supporter Kit OConnell, the occupiers figured out “Butch’s” true identity after their encampment was evicted last winter. Affadavits from Occupy Austin members have pointed to Dowell as the person who pushed for the use of the lockboxes and allege that he would regularly pull participants aside “in order to express his frustration with debate and eagerness for more aggressive and provocative actions.”

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Garza’s attorney, Greg Gladden of the National Lawyer’s Guild, has accused the police of entrapment and possible misconduct. Judge Joan Campbell, who had initially dismissed the case until prosecutors obtained indictments from a grand jury, says she will decide next week whether to allow the proceeding to go forward.

At the hearing, Dowell told the judge that he had could not produce subpoenaed documents because emails he had sent about the operation from his work computer had been deleted and he had lost a thumb drive containing photos when it dropped out of his pocket and fell in the gutter.

The Statesman reports that Judge Campbell expressed frustration with Dowell, while Garza’s attorney remarked, “I think he decided it was time the dog ate his homework.”

Judge Campbell has threatened to dismiss the case unless the required documents and the real names of the two other undercover officers, “Dirk” and “Rick,” are presented at the next hearing on September 5.

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Police officials declined to comment on the question of it was Dowell who first proposed using the lockboxes, but they did confirm that their department had ordered the infiltration.

Austin Police Chief Sean Mannix said that his department had begun receiving reports from confidential informants that the occupiers might be planning illegal protests. “We obviously had an interest in ensuring people didn’t step it up to criminal activity,” he said. “There is obviously a vested public interest to make sure that we didn’t allow civil unrest, violent actions to occur.”

Mannix does not believe any laws or departmental policies were violated, but he confirmed that the infiltration effort is the subject of a high-level internal review which is “absolutely looking into all aspects of what their undercover work was.”

Photo of an arrest at Occupy Austin by Ann Harkness via Flickr

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Ocasio-Cortez dunks on Liz Cheney again for using Nazi language to defend Trump: ‘Enjoy defending concentration camps’

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Dick Cheney's daughter continued to receive ferocious backlash after she falsely claimed that Donald Trump's tent cities are not "concentration camps."

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) demanded Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) learn history -- while revealing she knew little -- during a Twitter outburst.

“The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are. … ‘Never Again’ means something ... we need to do something about it," Ocasio-Cortez noted.

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Right-wing radio show ratings tank as host undermines Trump’s ‘promises made, promises kept’ re-election slogan

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The fact Donald Trump's base sticks with him no matter what he does is negatively impacting a conservative radio host attempting to hold the president accountable for his campaign promises.

Michael Alan Weiner, who goes by the stage name Michael Savage, hosts the "Savage Nation" radio show.

The host once praised Trump as the "Winston Churchill of our time" has been criticizing the president recently, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"Now Mr. Savage is an outlier once again, dismayed more each day as the budget deficit continues to swell, thousands of new migrants are apprehended at the border, and the wall Mr. Trump promised to erect and make Mexico pay for remains unbuilt," The Times explained.

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LISTEN: Here’s the creepy broadcast at Trump’s rally telling supporters the right way to deal with protesters

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida.

Those who entered the venue were treated to a pleasant female voice booming out instructions to protestors — and a creepy warning.

"While we all have the rights to free speech, this is a private event paid for and hosted by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and you came to hear the president," said the voice. "To accommodate the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, while ensuring an orderly rally, we have provided a secure area outside the venue for all protesters, and we ask anyone wishing to demonstrate to please exit to that secure area."

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