When the local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street began a five-month encampment in Austin, Texas last fall, the Austin police assigned at least three undercover officers to infiltrate the group and gather information on potentially illegal actions, the Liberty Crier reports. The undercover officers may have goaded protesters into using a technique that may result in some of them getting two to ten years in jail time.
According to the Austin Statesman, court documents and interviews show that the infiltrators “camped with other participants in the movement, marched in rallies and attended strategy meetings.”
They may also have gone further, acting as provocateurs to encourage the use of lockboxes or “sleeping dragons” — lengths of PVC pipe into which protesters insert their arms to make it harder for police to remove them during a demonstration.
Seven protesters who used the devices while blocking a port entrance in Houston last December 12 have been charged with a felony and face jail terms of from two to ten years under what the Statesman calls “an obscure statute that prohibits using a device that is manufactured or adapted for the purpose of participating in a crime.”