FBI infiltrated Iowa anti-war group before GOP convention
By WILLIAM PETROSKI
Des Moines Register and Tribune Company
An FBI informant and an undercover
Minnesota sheriff's deputy spied on political activists in Iowa City last year before the Republican National Convention in
St. Paul, Minn.
Confidential FBI documents obtained by The Des Moines Register show an FBI informant was planted among
a group described as an "anarchist collective" that met regularly last year in Iowa City. One of the group's goals was to
organize street blockades to disrupt the Republican convention, held Sept. 1-4, 2008, where U.S. Sen. John McCain was nominated
The undercover Minnesota deputy who traveled to Iowa City was from the Ramsey County
Sheriff's Department, which infiltrated a group known as the "RNC Welcoming Committee" that was coordinating convention protest
activities in St. Paul.
The undercover officer accompanied two activists from the Twin Cities who attended the University
of Iowa in April 2008 for a Midwest campus anti-war conference.
The Iowa City Police Department was not aware that
an FBI informant was monitoring local anti-war activists last year, Police Chief Samuel Hargadine said. But he confirmed to
the Register that he was notified by Ramsey County authorities last year that they were sending an undercover officer to Iowa
Authorities said about 800 convention protesters were arrested last September in
St. Paul, although most charges have since been dismissed.
About 3,700 police officers — many in riot gear and
some on horses — used tear gas, pepper spray and other methods to control protesters and quell disturbances. Demonstrators
shattered glass windows at retail stores, and some threw feces and urine at police, authorities said.
About 25 members
of Iowa City activist groups participated in the St. Paul demonstrations, but Iowa organizers said they were aware of only
one Iowa City demonstrator who was arrested. Those charges were subsequently dropped.
A key focus of the protests was anti-war sentiment, but the activists had other causes,
such as environmental issues and helping poor people. Most of the Iowa City activists did not attend the Democratic National
Convention held in Denver, Colo.