Preoccupied with Occupy

Preoccupied with Occupy

Rather than monitoring real threats, local counterterrorism officials obsessively monitored the Occupy movement

The fall of 2011 should have been a busy one for regional counterterrorism officials. Having been warned twice by Russian security forces about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and having had a triple murder occur on the evocative date of September 11th, 2011, one might expect the local Fusion Center, created in the aftermath of 9/11 to help share intelligence, to be busily engaged to see whether the dots connected. But, as reports from Congress and the intelligence community's Inspectors General show, they were largely oblivious. So what kept them from paying attention to what evolved into a clear and present danger?

Thanks to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), we now know. The PCJF has obtained and released 4000 pages of documents compiled that fall by Fusion Centers around the nation. In the Boston area, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), according to PCJF "devoted significant resources including deployment of intelligence analysts to a detailed monitoring and cataloging operation, issuing twice-daily “Situation Awareness” Bulletins on Occupy Boston." To get a flavor of what BRIC found worth monitoring, below is a selection of Cambridge-based activities that found their way onto BRIC's bulletins. The full document can found at the bottom of this report. You can join the PCJF's campaign to end the Fusion Centers here.

Update, June 2, 2014

DigBoston has noted that the BRIC monitored another hallowed Cambridge cultural institution, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus train:

• 12-16 October 2011: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is scheduled to occur in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden. The circus train will arrive on Tuesday, 11 October in the morning and the animals will be unloaded around 1:30pm for a 2:00pm walk around. This will take place behind Mass Ave. in between Albany and Vasser [sic] Streets. There have been several confirmed protests from animal activists groups including: PETA, Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC) and local members of the Defense of Animals (IDA), Mercy for Animals (MFA) and the Boston University Vegetarian Society. There is no information know at this time to indicate that Occupy Boston will have a presence at this event or will participate in protest activity against it.

  • Confirmed protests against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus:
    • Wednesday, 12 October from 5:00pm to 7:30pm at the intersection of Legends Way and Causeway St. Expected Attendance: 50+
    • Saturday, 15 October from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at the intersection of Legends Way and Causeway St. Expected Attendance: 24

Situational Awareness
“Occupy Boston” Action—UPDATE 56
10 November 2011
• About 150 Occupy Harvard / Occupy Cambridge protestors shut down Mass Ave. in Cambridge last night. 10 individuals from OB entered the red line station with their flags and headed to Cambridge. Harvard PD closed Harvard Yard to non-Harvard students where Occupy Harvard was scheduled to take place.

• 4:30 PM, 15 November 2011: Harvard Custodial Workers Rally in Dewey Square.
Harvard Custodians will be protesting / rallying outside of the Harvard Management Company located at 600 Atlantic Ave. (the Federal Reserve building). (Harvard Custodial Workers)
Analyst Notes: The BRIC has no reason to believe OB or Occupy Harvard will be participating in these events; however with the close proximity of protests in Harvard to Occupy Harvard and the Federal Reserve Bank to OB, it is possible these groups will show support to the custodial workers. In addition, OB has showed support for past labor union marches. OB has posted this event on their website, however, it is not on their calendar.
SEIU Local 615 represents approximately 335 custodians at Harvard University, and on 13 November 2011 approximately 230 custodians voted inside the First Parish Church in Cambridge to strike.
At this time the BRIC has information that Occupy Boston will conduct a solidarity march at approximately 5:00 PM starting from Dewey Square (see above); however, there is no further information to indicate the route that this march will take. There is no information at this time to indicate that Occupy Boston is involved in the protest outside the Federal Reserve building; however, the proximity in time and location to the Occupy Boston solidarity march set for 5:00 PM should be noted for the potential for the groups to merge. We will continue to assess publically available open sources regarding this march and provide updates as more information becomes available.
• 5:00 PM, 15 November 2011: Strike Captains’ Training at 3 locations: (Harvard Custodial Workers)
o Courtyard in front of Science Center
o Main Yard by the John Harvard Statue o Burden Hall at the Business School

Events Scheduled for Today, Wednesday, 16 November 2011
• 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM, 16 November 2011: Occupy Cambridge General Assembly Organization / Logistics Discussion. According to the Facebook page for this event, the location will be announced 1 hour prior to the meeting (6:00 PM). ii
Analyst Notes: This GA has not received much attention on Twitter or Facebook

Events Scheduled to Saturday 22 October 2011
Please note that due to the volume of significant events occurring in the city and with Occupy Boston, this list of events has been limited to items of significance only. It is not a comprehensive list of Occupy Boston-related events.
• 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM: Main Conference of the above listed conference taking place, the Digital Media Conference & Grassroots Use of Technology Conference. This all-day event will be held at Lesley University, Doble Campus Wolford House. vii The complete agenda for Saturday, and the entire weekend can be found at:

Events Scheduled for Saturday, 3 December 2011
o Occupy Harvard: Meet at 11:45 AM at the John Harvard Statue to then go to Copley Square for the 1:00 PM rally. They will be meeting other students at the Park St. and will be marching to Copley.

o Occupy the Farm: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM, individuals will meet at Harvest Coop in Central Square, Cambridge at 11:00 AM. They will go from Central Square to Kendall Square.

• 7:00 PM, 8 December 2011: From Global Revolt to Revolution: How do we get from
here to there? A public forum hosted by the Boston International Socialist Organization at Cambridge YWCA, 7 Temple St. Central Square. vii
Analyst Notes: This is posted on; the BRIC has not seen any Twitter chatter from OB or OH relative to this event.

Events Scheduled for Wednesday, 21 December 2011 iii
• 1:00 PM, “Federal Building”. Rally for Tarek Mehanna. Supporters are asking people to come out in a rally support for Tarek Mehanna who was found guilty today on all charges.
Analyst Notes: This has been widely tweeted and re-tweeted amongst Mehanna supporters and OB participants as well as Occupy Cambridge. At this time, it is unknown if the “Federal Building” location for this event refers to the JFK building or the Moakley Courthouse.

Regional Occupy Events
14 January 2011, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Mobius Art Space (55 Norfolk St., Cambridge); Tiny Tent Task Force Meeting (Occupy Boston).

Read CambridgeHappenings, a daily Cambridge news summary, curated from fresh, local sources.

Creative Commons License
This work by Saul Tannenbaum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.