ACLU Releases Police Documents Detailing "Suspicious" Happenings in San Francisco

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Definitely suspicious
Recently, the ACLU released more than 1,800 'suspicious activity reports' that the organization obtained through public records requests.

The reports document supposed "suspicious activities" observed by law enforcement and civilians alike, and are part of a federal push to gather intelligence about possible terrorism.

Although it might seem like a good idea for local police to tip off the feds when they believe they've stumbled upon a suspected terrorist plot, some might say the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative is a bit paranoid in practice.

For instance, there's this suspicious activity report, made in Bakersfield in 2010:

Suspicious ME [Middle Eastern] males buy several large pallets of water at [redacted].

Or this one, made in Lodi in 2010:

A sergeant from the Elk Grove Police Department reported "on a suspicious individual in his neighborhood"; the sergeant had "long been concerned about a residence in his neighborhood occupied by a Middle Eastern male adult physician who is very unfriendly"

As the Asian Law Caucus points out, "A perfectly normal activity like 'being unfriendly' or 'buying water' suddenly becomes a potential indicator of terrorism when paired with 'being Middle Eastern.'"

The reports themselves are as amusing and sad as the Atherton Police blotter -- until you consider that they don't just remain archived in a curious cop's notebook. The reports are all entered into a national database called eGuardian, where they're reviewed by intelligence analysts and shared with the Department of Justice and the FBI.

So what kinds of "suspicious" and terrorist-like behavior happens in San Francisco?

People taking pictures of buildings, for starters:

Suspicious photography of Armed Forces Career Center in San Francisco, by an individual "roaming around" in a vehicle.

And people abandon vehicles with weird stuff inside:

Suspicious vehicle found in remote area, vehicle contained several rifle rounds and a child seat.

Citizens unveil government conspiracies:

Private citizen emailed to report possible terrorist ties to purchaser of state buildings in San Francisco

And former law enforcement officials still practice their detective work into retirement:

Retired San Francisco Sheriff's Captain [redacted] was walking in his neighborhood ... noticed a blue Japanese sedan ... suspicious vehicle with different plates on front and back

Interesting stuff.




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2 comments
Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

As usual, the local police gladly become the willing toadies of clever crooks.

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