The Houston Police Department Targeting Houston Activists

Originally Posted In April of 2013, Updated in 2014

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According to officers speaking on the condition of anonymity, the  Houston Police Department has held at least one training session discussing local activists, the Houston Free Thinkers.

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“I’ve seen the intel they have on HFT. Very scary. You’d think they were a violent organization. I’ve been forced to watch videos they have on them, having to keep my mouth shut. I totally support HFT. I sent an email trying to warn them of the intel being gathered on them but never received a response”

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“They may very well be aware of what I told them, but if not, they need to know we were shown videos in a class at HPD (HFT own videos posted on YouTube). The instructor was able to name each & every leader of HFT. I felt HPD has a great disdain for their organization. It’s hard to explain & you’d have to have been there to sense the militarized tone of the instructor. Just wanted them to know to watch their backs & wouldn’t be surprised (have no knowledge of this whatsoever though) that they could be infiltrated by undercover officers in an attempt to garner intel. Again, I really have no clue how far HPD takes that stuff. I observed this during a training session at HPD over a year ago. Subsequent training sessions, there’s been no mention of HFT. And please note they were not the subject of the training. Please don’t pass my name along to them. If they are under a surveillance, my name associated with them wouldn’t be good. But if you have direct contact with Broze, I’d be more than happy to provide any info I hear in the future to you so that it can be disseminated to them. I did speak with a couple of others attending the training and mentioned during the break how I couldn’t find anything wrong with what HFT was doing. Definitely wouldn’t have gone over well during the class had I mentioned it.”

As a member of the Houston Free Thinkers (HFT) dealing with the Houston Police Department is not a new thing. Since the groups inception we have been hassled by HPD for protesting outside of the Federal Reserve, and been met with force on our marches against the NDAA  and SOPA .

Shortly after HFT began visiting the Federal Reserve and organizing nationally for Occupy the Fed we were assigned Officer Cram. He would follow us at all our events in a blacked out dodge charger. On November 22nd myself and another member of HFT were arrested for blocking the entrance to the Fed as part of national action. This was when the group first began noticing more police presence at our events.

On January 28th, 2012 the Houston Police Department came to a Houston Free Thinkers event and pulled a shotgun out on hundreds of unarmed citizens. I was accosted and shoved into the back of a cop car without being read my rights. After the District Attorney’s office refused to accept felony Inciting a Riot Charges I was eventually charged with “Failure to Obey a Lawful Order From a Peace Officer”.

While incarcerated I spoke with an officer who was aware of the Houston Free Thinkers. He told me that the group had been mentioned in an HPD training session. I was told his captain believed the group to be “a menace”. The time frame fits that both officers were likely referencing the same meeting.

In the months after, HFT was met with Department of Homeland Security, the Houston Police Department and Federal Protective services for marching on both Senate offices. Our purpose was to deliver letters of disapproval from concerned citizens on the NDAA and SOPA.

While tracking activists is nothing new it does show the continued efforts of local, state and federal police departments to gather information on peaceful activists. Specifically those that call out the crimes of the state and police departments.

The email goes on to mention another Houston activist group, the Peaceful Streets Project Houston. The Peaceful Streets Project is a grassroots initiative that focuses on holding police officers accountable and ending the violence on our streets enforced by officers. The Peaceful Streets Project was founded in Austin, Texas in early 2012, with the Houston Chapter launching last October.

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“I cant speak of their feelings with PSP (blacked out) if PSP is affiliated with Houston Free Thinkers then I do know they’re definitely not fond of them”

Apparently being associated with the Houston Free Thinkers is enough to get you monitored.

Two months after this incident, we were passed along another warning – this time with an image of the training sessions. An image was leaked to the group that shows HPD officers inside a classroom with “Houston FreeThinkers” written on screen while one the HFT videos is on the background.

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These images came with warnings that the officers were being trained on “ways for them to deal with protesters so they (the cops )wont break the law when they go for the actual arrest.” The group was also told “You guys think you know the law and how to get around certain scenarios, but trust me we know more and know how to get around YOU”. The session was apparently held to inform officers of activists who are aware of the law and how to find ways to successfully make arrests while dealing with “know it all groups”.

This should serve as awareness for all activists who engage the police officers directly. You will be tracked, you will be monitored and possibly infiltrated. More than ever, building a sense of community is important. Strong community relationships are the greatest block to an officers infiltration. The police seek to take advantage of disagreements and cause discord. Do not allow yourselves to be divided and turned against each other.

So who should be the ones that are being tracked, monitored and arrested? Members of the Houston Police Department gang have raped women , killed mentally handicap paraplegics, stomped on 15 year old kids , and continues to waste taxpayer money by monitoring innocent citizens.

On the other hand, the community activist alliance known as the Houston Free Thinkers has donated thousands of dollars to community causes, contribute to community gardens, kicked the TSA off the Houston Metro, helped with Food Not Bombs homeless feeding efforts, and continues to offer free documentary screenings and skillshare classes.

Who is the real threat? The State or the Community?

The Houston Free Thinkers strives to ask questions, demand answers and find solutions. We are a community alliance made up of a number of different people with often diverse opinions. Although the Houston Police Department may find it hard to fathom there is no one leader or head to cut off. HFT is an idea that cannot be extinguished.

Lastly, I would like to personally remind any law enforcement officers that the Houston Free Thinkers remain peaceful and non-violent as do the Peaceful Streets Project – Houston.

 

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