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2001-04-06

Student Activists Discover a University Cop Infiltrated Their Group "Students Organizedagainst Sweatshops"

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When former President Clinton arrived at Michigan State University for a speaking engagement in January, activistswith Students for Economic Justice were in for a shock. As they rallied in support of Leonard Peltier outside, one oftheir members spotted a university policewoman who looked familiar. Only six months earlier, the same woman had cometo a Students for Economic Justice meeting, and asked to join the group, which is an affiliate of United StudentsAgainst Sweatshop. She said she her name was Samantha and that she was a junior majoring in education. She went toseveral meetings, and then dropped from the scene. The university police have now admitted that she was an undercoverofficer who was investigating the group.

The Michigan State police have a history infiltrating and intimidating activist students and even facultyorganizations. Henry Silverman, a retired Michigan State professor who is currently the president of the Lansingchapter of the ACLU, remembers going to meeting of faculty members opposed to the Vietnam war, where police tookphotographs. Police collected some 40,000 files on anti-Vietnam activists, which were known as the Red Squad files.

Now, at a time of increasing protests against globalization, the police tactics are returning. Assistant Chief of theMSU Police Jim Dunlap explained in a written statement that the investigation was ordered because officials wereconcerned that a visit by World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who was to speak at commencement, would be met withviolence.

Guests:

  • Jeremy Steele, reporter with State News, the Michigan State University student newspaper that brokethe story.
  • Michael Krueger, activist in Students for Economic Justice.
  • Michael Price, former member of Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Non-violent CoordinatingCommittee, who was a student at MSU in the 1970s, when Michigan State police collected 40,000 files on anti-Vietnamwar activists. He sued for his files and won.

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