Though it should surprise no one, the FBI has been thoroughly tracking the ideas, movements, and members of Occupy Wall Street since August of 2011, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity," Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, PCJF's executive director said in a release.
The heavily redacted documents show that the agency was coordinating with local law enforcement agencies across the country to keep tabs on protests, planning meetings, and perceived threats to businesses as well as federal property. Of the 387 documents the FBI identified as being relevant to the FOIA request, the agency released only 99.
While there's no indication in the non-redacted portions that the FBI had its own agents monitoring OWS, passages that relay information from local law enforcement agents are common:
[Redacted] attended Occupy's meeting on 10/10/11 to gauge crowd size and ascertain location and times for protests. Group appeared to be peaceful in nature.
Page 91 of the PCJF's file has a decent primer on Occupy ethos courtesy of the FBI's Richmond, Virginia office:
The October2011 Movement protests corporatism and militarism because they prevent solutions to our current crises which would create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world from being implemented. Instead concentrated corporate interest rule our elections and political process so that wealth continues to be funneled to the top 1%…
Legitimate government is born of the people expressed by its citizens in free and fair elections. It does not spring from a tyranny of special interests, crony capitalism, or a system of ideology that runs counter to the aims of life.
Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the FBI, told the Times that “drawing conclusions from redacted” documents is unwise, and noted, “The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in constitutionally protected activity. While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity."
Verheyden-Hilliard sees it differently: “The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities. This is precisely the threat—people do not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
You can read the whole trove of documents here.