More state police spying victims
Julie Bykowicz reports today that yet another advocacy group has come forward to say it was part of the widely condemned Maryland State Police spying program: Equality Maryland, the gay rights group. Its director, Dan Furmansky, says he has learned that police have a photo of him and compiled information on his organzation.
The police have refused to release a full accounting of the groups who were subject to the spying program, which began during former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration but ended at some point, when is not totally clear. The result is that we're getting more and more names coming out, keeping outrage over the story alive -- and demonstrating that the initial explanation for the program, that it began out of concern for the possibility of violent protests surrounding two executions in Maryland, is far from the whole story. We now know the state police were keeping tabs on anti-death penalty groups, peace activists, environmentalists, animal rights activists, people fighting the BGE rate increase, Amnesty International and, now, a gay rights group. They were even keeping an eye on the folks at Red Emma's, the lefty-leaning bookstore/cafe in Mt. Vernon, a pretty tame bunch, unless you count the sale of vegan baked goods as an act of violence.
The state police have said the spying has stopped and have resisted the idea of legal restrictions. Gov. O'Malley is planning to introduce legislation, possibly on Monday, that will implement recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel on the spying that would require the police to show reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Bills introduced yesterday by legislators would go farther, prohibiting police from keeping files on activists. Ordinarily, you'd give the edge to the administration's bill in such circumstances, but the more we learn, the more I'd put money on the tougher restrictions being pushed by the legislature.