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Excerpt: "During Black Friday protests, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) may have slipped up and discussed their secretive cellphone surveillance capability over public police radio, according to a video released Friday, December 5, by the 'hactivist' group Anonymous."

Kristiana Rae Colón holds a phone, which may have been tapped, while marching alongside protesters at a Black Friday demonstration in Chicago. (photo: Jocelyn Deloney)
Kristiana Rae Colón holds a phone, which may have been tapped, while marching alongside protesters at a Black Friday demonstration in Chicago. (photo: Jocelyn Deloney)


ALSO SEE: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

Anonymous: Chicago Police Surveilled Activists, Including Politician's Daughter

By Brandon Smith, Paul Gottinger and Ken Klippenstein, Reader Supported News

07 December 14

 

uring Black Friday protests, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) may have slipped up and discussed their secretive cellphone surveillance capability over public police radio, according to a video released Friday, December 5, by the “hactivist” group Anonymous.

One apparent surveillance target was Kristiana Rae Colón, daughter of Chicago alderman Rey Colón. Kristiana told us that she was the main organizer behind a Black Friday demonstration in Chicago, and identified herself as such to police when asked who was leading the protest.

In a two-minute audio segment, police can be heard alluding to their ability to intercept a female protest organizer’s cellphone traffic.

“One of the girls is kind of an organizer here, she’s been on her phone a lot,” an officer says. The officer identifies his location as the intersection of North Avenue and Damen Avenue in Wicker Park, which Kristiana confirmed to us was her location as well. The officer continues: “Are you guys picking up any information [on] where they’re going, possibly?”

“Yeah, we’re keeping an eye on it,” replies someone identifying himself as being from the CPIC – the Crime Prevention and Information Center. The CPIC was established to facilitate interagency collaboration in detecting terrorism and criminal activity. The FBI repeatedly told local police departments to keep mum about the capabilities of their cellphone surveillance equipment.

Colón asked us: “The question is, should you have a warrant before you track or tap my phone?”

“What’s happening ... is a template for how civil liberties can be stripped from citizens in any moment of social unrest,” she said. “Police forces are more concerned with protecting retail and commerce … than they are with protecting the rights of people.”

The protest that Colón organized – a Black Friday Boycott march – drew in hundreds of participants. The activists appeared in front of stores on the shopping holiday to link heavy corporate influence in government with police violence against black communities. The event was referred to as #BrownFriday in social media.

One of the cellphone surveillance tools at the CPD’s disposal is commonly known as a Stingray. The American Civil Liberties Union describes Stingrays as “invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information.”

Freddy Martinez, a Chicago activist, obtained a copy of an invoice, via a Freedom of Information Act request, showing that the CPD has purchased Stingray devices. Mr. Martinez has filed a lawsuit against the CPD in an attempt to gain more information about the department’s purchase of Stingrays.

If a Stingray was the surveillance tool used to intercept Colón’s phone calls, the CPD may have violated privacy laws.

Kade Crockford, a privacy activist and director of the Technology for Liberty Project at the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU, directed us to a case called NAACP v. Alabama, a 1964 decision in which the government tried to subpoena the NAACP’s list of members. The court put a stop to that, reasoning that it would be violation of NAACP members’ privacy. Crockford insists Stingrays are no different.

“Police can simply take the device out of the equipment locker and go to town,” Crockford told us. “You fire it up at a protest and you effectively have a list of all the cell phones, all the identities, of the people there…. If a police department is ever caught doing that, it could be challenged on constitutional grounds.”



Brandon Smith is an independent journalist soon to debut Chicago's first SecureDrop system for anonymous whistleblowing. He has written about environmental catastrope and bureaucratic/political infringement on civil liberties. He can be reached on Twitter @muckrakery or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Paul Gottinger is a journalist based in Madison, WI. He can be reachedon Twitter @paulgottinger or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ken Klippenstein is a staff journalist at Reader Supported News. He can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+58 # barkingcarpet 2014-12-07 14:17
Really, and anyone is surprised, while We, the people, rush blindly into oblivion fueled by our dismissive bullying arrogant entitled righteousness of belief and money is everything apathetic consumerism?
It is not "them" but "us" with every purchase of slave labour made, or pesticide created products, and every purchase which leave degraded toxic landfills, and black water, brown air, and dead soil in our wakes...
When will we get or be involved, and put an end to our apathy, ignorance, and knee jerking consent, and get off our consumer butts, and begin giving back, to life, to each other, and quit professing to care, while being greedy consumers, owning the commons, into oblivion?
Oh, and merry debt filled Christmas. Quit buying stuff. Money, stuff, and shoppppppping are not what it is all about, and we should not go along or add to it all?
 
 
+26 # Doubter 2014-12-07 18:21
You must say this better than I do. Every time I suggest that our buying and consuming so much is what empowers the corporations, I get voted down!
 
 
+10 # cordleycoit 2014-12-07 14:33
These are people daring to strike at the heart of the monster. Very good, careful journalists have vanished for saying much less. Chicago is run by kill crazed ward heelers backed bys police that make the Inquisition seem like kindergarten. They, the Mossad trained assassins, control the current White House and will have the coming Hillary White House firmly under control.
 
 
+51 # Vardoz 2014-12-07 14:36
Yup this is the police state mentality that protects corporate interests that are busy impoverishing Americans, killing innocent people and raping our economy while destroying our environment- Like the Nazi's said they were only taking orders. It's a shame it has come to this horrible state for the people of our nation.
 
 
+10 # jimbo 2014-12-07 16:44
rhetorically, how does on donate to Anonymous?
 
 
+18 # ritawalpoleague 2014-12-07 17:02
Kudos to you, Kristiana. You are exactly what we need, these so dreadful days here in the anything but a democracy, U.S. of (greed and need for power over all) A.(ddiction).

I am also a Chicago girl, raised in Homewood-Flossm oor and a graduate in '61 of Mother McAuley Liberal Arts H.S. on Chicago's south side. And, for about the last eight years, I've been labeled a 'terrorist', for daring to be active in opposition to endless warmode (including the lied into war in Iraq), creation of super fusion centers (now over 70) from where orders are given to local cops on how to brutalize, torture, and kill at will any and all who dare to exercise basic/essential constitutional rights, i.e. freedom to assemble and freedom of speech. You can pull up Rita Ague, Colorado Springs Independent, No Peace or Justice; and then KRDO for Gun Laws and Mental Health and Kimberly Rivera press conference.

Ignore calls for help is not something I can do, especially when total injustice and death threats are involved. So now my cell phone is constantly broken into (this according to repair experts, one saying he'd never seen anything like it, i.e. use of texting me to turn my phone off). And now, I am on a 'must do a second pre-flight inspection' when my name appears on a flight passenger list. This follows my joining the plaintiffs' legal team in Hedges, et. al. v. Obama et. al..

Don't give up !
 
 
+11 # reiverpacific 2014-12-07 18:01
Surveillance of protesters is nothing new if you've hit the streets for ANY cause any time in y'r life.
I was surprised that they even gave me a student visitor's visa when I first came here on the way to several month in Mexico and a musical "Pilgrimage" to New Orleans on the way back with my record of anti-war, anti-American military adventurism direct and leadership roles.
But when I married my first American wife and applied for a resident Green Card, they REALLY dragged me through the muck, made it as hard as they possibly could and I was amazed -and contemptuous- at the small details they threw at me, half of which I had forgotten -or they just made up. I mean, I didn't for a minute think I was that important and certainly not a threat to any kind of national security.
And the same old crap has come up every time I've been gone a while (A Green Card expires after 9 months out of the country).
With the NSA, they know even more now; I probably wouldn't get in as a first timer now.
Just in case anybody thinks they are safe from surveillance, even the uber-conformists.
Remember that the redoubtable and indefatigable Emma Goldman was finally deported and SHE was a citizen!
 
 
+7 # grandma lynn 2014-12-07 23:24
I suppose a thing to do is refuse to be a consumer of cell phones, too. Live outside the tracking routes. Here I am being a computer-connec ted consumer, and talking to you others with your computers lit up - and trackable. Another way to be? to do? Hold hands? Be in a circle?
 

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