Page 2 of 2   <      

Logs Show Activist Surveillance Continued Despite Lack of Criminal Findings

"We're volunteers," says Mike Stark, a death-penalty opponent mentioned in logs.
"We're volunteers," says Mike Stark, a death-penalty opponent mentioned in logs. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

"She was a lively young woman in her 20s," recalled Terry Fitzgerald, a Baltimore doctor named in several logs of death-penalty protests. At some point, she changed her name from McDonald, which made him suspicious. She talked at several meetings. "But then she disappears," Fitzgerald recalled. "It didn't make sense."

Indeed, the police blended in by appearing to be engaged.

In a report from June 6, 2005, an agent notes: "During the course of the meeting, I asked if anyone knew anything about the Bio Tech conference in Frederick at Ft. Detrick on July 14, 2005 and no one at the meeting said they were aware of any planned actions on that day."

The agents always noted their own participation. "There were 6 people at the meeting including Max Obuszewski and Terry Fitzgerald. [Name redacted] attended the meeting as Lucy Shoup," reads one report from the Aug. 24, 2005, gathering of the Baltimore group.

The intelligence logs were recorded much like minutes written up by any volunteer group.

"On Thursday, December 1, a prayer meeting may be held, time and place to be determined," reads an entry from the Nov. 17, 2005, meeting of the Baltimore Coalition to End the Death Penalty, at the American Friends Service Committee Hall. The agents expressed concern about potential violence at protests when discussions of scheduled executions became heated or family members of the men on death row attended.

The protests did not turn violent. But at the end of each log, the agents requested to their superiors that their surveillance continue.

"Due to the above facts, I request that the case remain open," an agent noted at the bottom of a Nov. 28, 2005, entry describing a State House rally to protest Wesley Baker's execution. "There were no disturbances at the protest and no problems were detected by the covert troopers. The protestors left the scene without incident."

Just one event persuaded the police to close a case: a ceremony at Johns Hopkins University to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. The ceremony featured poetry readings and songs, and participants held up signs protesting nuclear testing.

"Due to the above facts, I request that this case be closed," reads the agent's intelligence report.

<       2

© 2008 The Washington Post Company