Friday, January 19, 2007

More from Connecticut, The Police State

CONNECTICUT NEWS
Police Printed Flier Warning Of Activist
January 19, 2007
By JON LENDER And EDMUND H. MAHONY, Courant Staff Writers

Hours before the controversial arrest of political blogger Kenneth Krayeske at Gov. M. Jodi Rell's Jan. 3 inaugural parade, state police distributed copies of a full-color, two-page document describing Krayeske as an activist who had invited people to join him in a protest outside Rell's inaugural ball that night.

The document, containing color prints of Krayeske's current and past driver's license photos, made it seem as if "Ken Krayeske was public enemy No. 1," said Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, a state legislative leader whose committee now plans to investigate.

Although the slightly built Krayeske had engaged only in nonviolent protest and activism, he was "lumped in with people who were actual physical threats" - and that is why the General Assembly must consider passing new laws this year to curb police excesses in a post-9/11 era of intensified security, said Lawlor, a Democrat and co-chairman of the legislative judiciary committee.

The security flier, Lawlor said, apparently led to an "overreaction" by Hartford police, who received the document at a pre-parade security briefing for police. Recognizing Krayeske from the photos, a Hartford officer arrested him at 1:20 p.m. as he photographed Rell along the parade route, said Lawlor, who was shown the flier by a police official.

Both the state and Hartford police have refused requests by The Courant to see the two-page Krayeske profile and other documents concerning individuals identified as potential threats.

Police defend their procedures as reasonable to protect a chief executive from public threats. But civil liberties advocates, locally and nationally, agree with Lawlor that it was "inexcusable" to arrest Krayeske and hold him on $75,000 bail for more than 12 hours on charges of breach of peace and interfering with police.

Krayeske, a 34-year-old law student who runs a commentary website, The40yearplan.com, was finally released early Jan. 4 on a promise to appear in court Jan. 30. His lawyer has suggested that authorities kept him on ice until it was too late to get to Rell's inaugural ball.

Police deny that, but have failed to quell a furor that's attracted national notice, as well as vows by state lawmakers to conduct investigative hearings beginning next week. Two legislative committees in addition to Lawlor's are talking about investigative hearings. One, the public safety panel, has scheduled a hearing Tuesday.

Lawlor said the police should produce the Krayeske document for legislators.

Rell, meanwhile, has demanded a report from Leonard Boyle, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, which Boyle says is still in the works. And Mayor Eddie Perez has requested one from Hartford police.

Sources familiar with the Krayeske security flier said it had the driver's license pictures in color on the first page, and the second page had entries on episodes of Krayeske's past civil disobedience and political activism.

Those entries included Krayeske's past arrest at an anti-war protest, as well as a recent blog posting in which he suggested that others join him in a protest outside the inaugural ball of the governor, of whom Krayeske has been sharply critical.

The security flier also referred to Krayeske's role as manager of Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton's 2006 gubernatorial campaign. However, it did not mention that in his Green Party role, Krayeske had confronted Rell and her Republican campaign staff over the governor's refusal to debate Thornton, Lawlor said.

Lawlor said he is troubled that a citizen can get onto a printed security alert - and be arrested and held for 12 hours - for exercising what he considers no more than nonviolent political speech and never threatening anyone.

Lawlor said his own research indicates that Krayeske may have been the only person pictured in color in security materials, which may have made him stand out as more of a potential problem than others.

A state police source who declined to be identified said that wasn't the case. Krayeske, the source said, was identified simply as someone for those working the parade to keep an eye out for, which is part of the normal routine for intelligence operations.

Others in addition to Krayeske were discussed as possible parade security concerns, the source said, but he would not say who they were or how many there were.

The report to Rell has not been completed, and the state police source discussed preliminary findings on the condition that he not be named.

The security assessment on the inaugural parade proceeded as would any assessment of a public event where security was a concern, the source said. One or more detectives assigned to the state police intelligence unit examined confidential intelligence files - their own and those maintained by the Connecticut Intelligence Center, the source said.

Neither Krayeske's name nor information on his activities turned up as a result of searches of the law enforcement data bases, the source said.

Consistent with the source's assertion, Boyle, the public safety commissioner, said: "We do not keep intelligence files on political activists or political enemies. We keep intelligence files consistent with the federal code of regulations."

The source said state police detectives next checked what the department calls "open source information."

"That includes letters, telephone calls, blogs, all that sort of stuff, anything that is out there publicly, to see if there is any person out there who might pose a threat to an individual or might want to disrupt the event," the source said. "If we find somebody like that, we make the cops who are responsible for the protection aware of it."

Krayeske's name surfaced there, the source said.

Once Krayeske's blog entry about the upcoming inaugural caught the attention of the state police detectives, it was brought to the attention of the governor's security detail - a state police unit assigned to Rell. The state police mentioned it in at least two briefings for security personnel assigned to the parade. Parade security was provided by the state police, the State Capitol Police and the Hartford police.

Rell spokesman Chris Cooper said the governor's office has not seen the two-page Krayeske document. He said Rell didn't know until hours later that Krayeske had been arrested at the parade.

Although a witness said Krayeske had just photographed her, smiling as she passed, a written report from a Hartford officer said he saw Krayeske dismount a bicycle and run toward the parade procession.

"I immediately recognized the accused ... from the photograph provided by the State Police," then grabbed him as he "was stepping off the curb ... toward the Governor," he wrote.

Krayeske once directed Metro Bridge, a former Courant program for young Hartford high school journalists. His lawyer, Norman Pattis, said that he had been unaware that a two-page document had been prepared in advance on his client. He said he would like to see it but will make no special effort to obtain it until he sees what happens in court Jan. 30.

"If justice prevails, the case will be dismissed that day," Pattis said. "If it doesn't, we'll start asking more questions."

Contact Jon Lender at jlender@courant.com.

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Click Here for pictures and more on the Ken story.

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