Hello everyone, my name is Ronnie Garza. Back in December of 2011, the Austin Police Department working through DHS funded Fusion Centers tried to set up a bunch of Occupiers and I got caught up in it. It was a protest out at the Port of Houston, it was in solidarity with the West Coast Port Shutdown called by Occupy Oakland. We were shutting down a road as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with Oakland, but we didn’t find out until later that undercover detectives were at our planning meetings. It turns out that the Austin Police Department built and supplied PVC pipe “lockboxes” for protesters to use in Houston and they coordinated all this through the Fusion Centers in Austin and Houston. We didn’t find any of this out till after we had already been to jail, released, had the charges dismissed by the judge and then re-indicted by a Grand Jury.
It wasn’t until then that we got an anonymous tip-off that a police officer named Shannon was calling himself Butch and had been involved in the planning of the port action. But the DA in Houston was saying they didn’t no anything about police officers from Austin. We didn’t have a last name, we didn’t have enough for court so the whole thing kept dragging on. We must have gone to Houston a dozen times and then got reset for later dates until finally they wanted to take us to trial on Sept. 17th 2012, the anniversary of Occupy Wall St.
Months had passed since we got our anonymous tip and we still didn’t have an identity but finally, after I did much digging I was able to find a Detective Shannon Dowell with the Austin Police Department that seemed to match our guy. At a pre-trial hearing before we were to go to trial is when the defense finally got Shannon into court. At that point the trial took a very different turn. We learned that a total of 6 undercover detectives had actually infiltrated Occupy Austin, but only 3 were involved with this action. We also learned that the chain of command went to the Chief of Police himself. But the DA in Houston was resilient, and still wanted to take our case, which had already been thrown out once, to a trial by jury.
Things went dark after we won, our discovery of the undercovers got us headlines but the embarrassing emails, texts and pictures weren’t getting out. The court verified details of how Fusion worked to set us up wasn’t getting out. It was Southby, not a great time to draw attention to the Surveillance Eye in Austin. So I’m making a documentary about it.
There are a lot of details to this story. How did we get the identity? Who were the other undercover officers involved? How was the Fusion Center involved? How did they collect their intel? Why does it seem we are missing a lot of information in the emails they turned over? Why did one of the protesters from that action spend almost two years in jail as a result of the arrest? Why didn’t the media care?
This page will document the document, I’m gonna make a documentary about the entrapment and document my progress along the way. To this end I’ll be uploading vids that I record along the way, then at the end I’ll cut it all together into a coherent story. We have answered a lot of questions so far by piecing together stuff from the emails, but we are still looking for answers. As a starting place folks can check out the About section on this blog and the videos below.