LOS ANGELES - The ACLU of California is calling on Gov. Schwarzenegger to take "immediate steps" to stop the California National Guard from spying on people who are engaged in peaceful protest following revelations that an intelligence unit recently spied on a rally organized by families of slain American soldiers. A California Public Records Act request was filed with both the Governor and the California National Guard seeking documents relating to the peace rally and the Intelligence Unit.
"We were shocked to learn that grandmothers protesting on Mother's Day were the target of a National Guard terrorist unit," said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. "We fear that the surveillance of the Mothers' Day peace rally is just the tip of the iceberg and we call on the Governor to take immediate action to put a stop to this illegal activity. The national guard should not be spying on families of slain Americans soldiers."
The Mothers' Day incident was revealed in the San Jose Mercury News - disclosing that a handful of peaceful, anti-war protestors at the Sacramento Capitol were spied on by a special intelligence unit of the National Guard. The May 8 rally was organized by Gold Star Families for Peace, Raging Grannies and Code Pink.
California affiliates of the ACLU, representing more than 90,000 members, are calling on the Governor immediately to take the following steps:
'Disband the National Guard's Intelligence Unit or impose strict regulations on the unit. Strict regulations include: prohibiting the monitoring and collection of information on individuals and organizations engaged in First Amendment protected activity; prohibiting dissemination of information already collected to other government agencies; creating clear guidelines and definitions that protest activity - including civil disobedience - is not terrorism; and regulation of file storage and data retention to ensure regular purging of any databases and storage systems.
'Under the California Public Records Act, release all information related to the May 8 incident and other incidents in which the National Guard has been used to monitor protected First Amendment activities. This includes all documents related to the anti-war protest held at the Capitol on Mothers' Day; to any anti-war demonstrations in the past year; all correspondence from members of the Intelligence Unit related to Code Pink, Gold Star Families for Peace, and/or Raging Grannies.