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Who is this El Paso Sheriffs undercover infiltrator provocateur? We don’t care!

El Paso County Sheriffs Undercover OperativeCOLO. SPRINGS– Lawyers for the city are fighting defense team efforts to expose who, how, when and why local law enforcement agencies infiltrated a campus political activist group. The 2017 undercover operation was revealed in CSPD bodycam videos, but city courthouse lawyers and judges are preventing the evidence from being made public.

Alerted to the October 17 evidentiary hearing meant to shed light on the bodycam video, journalists and news crews instead witnessed stonewalling by city attorneys but made to look like a disorganized defense. They saw municipal Judge Kristen Hoffecker blame the defendants for not submitting to a sham proceding, when the judge should have confessed that the defense’s subpoenas had not been honored.

Today the city learned that our defense team went around them and served the subpoenas directly, requiring the responsible law agency parties to testify as witnesses at an evidentiary hearing on November 3. Now the city wants to use a November 1 status hearing to quash the subpoenas.

What’s the big deal? The city asserts the confidential identity of its undercovers is a stake. That is of course the least of it.

The city’s own evidence against the defendants, accused of marching in the street on March 26, 2017, documents police officers deciding to issue tickets. What’s clear from the video is that the police issued tickets, not to cite wrongdoers, nor to halt law-breaking, but to 1) “identify everyone”, 2) arrest an undercover agent, and 3) disperse a lawful assembly. It’s all on tape.

When defendants first grasped what they were seeing on the bodycam video, they brought it to the attention of the various municipal court judges who take turns directing the daily court matters. Asked to produce the written reports generated by the officers on the video but missing from the discovery evidence, the judges declined. Asked to subpoena the officers involved, the judges declined. After each defendant’s pro se arguments were rebuffed, one motions hearing after the other, the defendants sought legal help. Actually Judge Hayden Kane II did eventually grant a hearing to look into the video, but he told us he’d already watched it in private and was not inclined to find it relevant, so defendants were not encouraged that his opinion would change.

In the meantime civil rights lawyers were highly interested in the police activity documented by the video. They submitted 20 pages of argument for the dismissal of charges against the defendants, citing outrageous police misconduct in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 23. They requested that the sheriff, the police chief, the commander of CSPD intelligence, and others named and unnamed, be subpoenaed to testify at an evidentiary hearing on October 17. That didn’t happen, as everyone saw. The subpoenas didn’t even go out.

The October 17 hearing misfire was simply the latest of months of attempts by the defendants to bring this story to light.

This time around the city wasn’t given the chance to sit on the subpoenas, they’ve been served directly. On November 1, will Judge Hoffecker invalidate the subpoenas two days before the witnesses are compelled to appear? The question reporters can ask is should she?

The city’s argument will be that the police undercover operation, however illegal, does not have anything to do with the guilt or innocence of the socialists charged with marching in the street. Outrageous police misconduct is a matter for federal court, that’s true. But have a look at the video. Notice that the first marcher fingered for arrest, the only one assigned an arrest team, was the undercover “Mark Jackson.” When the police shouted their warning that all who remained in front of City Hall would be issued citations, their only unequivocable target was Jackson.

Without the motive of arresting Jackson, whether it was to provoke the crowd or to embed their infiltrator, and until the order “LT wants everyone identified”, the police weren’t going to make any arrests. What does that say about the supposed guilt of the accused?

The police had already told the socialists “you’re free to carry on with your rally so long as you don’t step back unto the street.”

What the socialists were doing on March 26 was the essence of protected speech. But senior officers not on the scene had a crime of their own up their sleeves, and they needed an arrest or two to set it into motion.

Should we get to the bottom of this story, or let the city pretend it didn’t happen until the defendants get to turn the tables in federal court?

One presumes that undercover agents are only performing the intelligence function of surveillance, monitoring protest activity for hints of criminal behavior. At worse, we call them agent provocateurs, trying to encourage illegality, and believe that everyday nonviolent activists should know better than to be entrapped into illegal acts.

But undercover officers are much more disruptive than that. Undercovers sow dischord and mistrust among strangers who’ve come together to advocate for a common cause. Infiltrators pit activists against each other and confound organizers with sabotage. They volunteer for responsibilities then drop the ball. They complicate discussions with irrelevant, impractical, or illegal suggestions. When their ideas are rejected they express frustration by demeaning their fellow participants for being unmotivated. When “Mark Jackson” was found out, and it took many weeks for everyone to become convinced he was an undercover, he berated everyone for every personal failing in the book. He accused individuals of paranoia, ineptitude, or lacking courage. “Get back to me when you decide you want to DO SOMETHING” were his parting words.

Police infiltration harms every citizen effort to organize. The Code of Federal Regulations mandates that police agencies have suspicion of real crime before embedding infiltrators.

If CSPD or the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Homeland Security or the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has proof of a crime brewing among the Colorado Springs Socialists, wouldn’t we all benefit to know about it? We would if their motive is truly crime prevention.

The real identities of “Mark Jackson” and his partner “Aimee Walter” doesn’t matter at all. Who they work for is paramount. Are they “with the Sheriffs” or contracted or embedded from another agency? As the video shows, Jackson’s jittery hyperactive behavior while detained in the cruiser doesn’t give one much confidence about who law enforcement is entrusting with a loaded weapon in a crowd they hope to be inciting to riot.

The city’s determination to quash the question of whether or not such evidence exists points to police malfeasance, not the Socialists’.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Colorado Springs police infiltration operations against social justice activism should be brought to heel sooner rather than later.

OCTOBER 27 UPDATE:
According to Judge Hoffecker’s order: November 1st at 2:30pm will be the city’s next chance to quash the subpoenas. If they do not succeed, the evidentiary hearing is scheduled for November 3rd at 8:15am.

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