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Takoma Park: No Knowledge of Police Spies

The revelation this month that Maryland State Police agent spied on antiwar and death penalty protesters for more than a year has caused much consternation among civil liberties and good government groups.

In Takoma Park, one of the state's bastions of liberal thinking, local officials were particularly concerned: Dozens of their constituents' organizational meetings, rallies and email group lists were infiltrated over 14 months, starting in 2005.

Several residents and City Council members sent alarmed emails to Police Chief Ronald Ricucci. Did he know that undercover officers were posing as peace activists and opponents of capital punishment to gain access to their meetings?

To the relief of many, this was the response from Suzanne Ludlow, the city's community and government liaison.

"Neither Chief Ricucci nor any current command staff that was present at the time of the surveillance knew anything about it...If there are inquiries by the press, please let them know that the City of Takoma Park was not informed of the surveillance."

The spying also did not sit well with Common Cause of Maryland, a good government group that sent out an email petition seeking signatures from supporters asking for a federal and state investigation of the operation.

Executive Director Ryan O'Donnell went hi-tech with his plea, recording a one-minute video on You Tube.

"Marylanders should really be outraged for two reasons," O'Donnell says in the video. "First, it's an egregious attack on our civil liberties. Second, it's an outlandish waste of taxpayer money when the state police should be really looking at public safety issue."

By Anne Bartlett  |  July 28, 2008; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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