If an Agent Knocks

As MSNBC was reporting on police efforts to disrupt the G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh, one element missing in its coverage is the explanation for why the police were disrupting Americans exercising their First Amendment rights in the first place.

It was as though the police action were the norm, and the action of the protesters demonstrating their points of view is some presumptive act against our country.


Just as the veterans defending the Los Angeles National Veterans Home were treated as criminals, so too are many Americans in today’s unquestioning acquiescence to state authority. Readers of VT are too familiar with this undemocratic dynamic.

Annette Warren Dickerson and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) are offering protection for citizens to exercise their civil rights in their pamphlet, "If an Agent Knocks".

CCR grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s and is dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans.

     Published below is Dickerson’s e-mail message to supporters and all citizens:

At this very moment, the fundamental right to dissent is being restricted, threatened and perilously criminalized. CCR is on the front lines defending the right to dissent and has also re-issued an important resource for all those likely to be targeted for their actions.

Right now, thousands of activists who have gathered in Pittsburgh to protest at the G20 summit have been met with what we have come to expect: overreaction by authorities and illegal preventive tactics by law enforcement officials at all levels. A secret communications hub with ‘electronic eyes’ has been established by the Secret Service, working with over 40 other agencies to infiltrate, spy on, and disrupt all forms of opposition. Raids and arrests are mounting, and the aggressive and well-planned system of cracking down on dissenting voices and reducing media coverage is strongly in effect.

CCR has responded to the increasing threat to dissent in a number of ways. For months now a CCR board member and cooperating attorney, Jules Lobel, has worked with on the ground organizations to secure permits and challenge restrictions to protests. Last week, in collaboration with the ACLU, he successfully represented several organizations in court and secured the right to demonstrate in a city park during the G20 gathering. And in a filing on Monday, we charged the local police with illegal searches, vehicle seizures, raids and detentions of Seeds of Peace members aimed at preventing them from providing food to protestors. CCR’s legal director, Bill Quigley, is in Pittsburgh advocating on behalf of the protestors, and CCR will continue its support. On the topic of dissent, Bill Quigley wrote an article on the protests at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA; you can read the article here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is re-issuing our pamphlet, ‘If an Agent Knocks,’ to provide advice to activists likely to be targeted by FBI agents or other federal investigators, in Pittsburgh and beyond. This booklet is a resource to protect activists from government investigation. We also want to support the power you show when you exercise this fundamental right of dissent.

Since its original release in 1989, CCR’s ‘If an Agent Knocks’ has been widely circulated in progressive activist communities across the country. This guide includes both the timeless advice included in the original version and extensive updates to reflect the current state of the law and law enforcement tools. It also includes a comprehensive discussion of today’s technology, including cell phones, e-mail and Web browsing.

‘If An Agent Knocks’ is an invaluable tool for activists in a time when efforts to repress expressions of opposition are intensified. We want to get this publication into as many hands as possible.

To obtain a free copy, please email [email protected] . You can also download it in pdf form. Tell your friends and fellow activists about ‘If An Agent Knocks,’ and urge them to place an order too. We are giving away a special edition of ‘If An Agent Knocks’ posters to the first 500 people who order the booklet.


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