Members of Housing First! No More Deaths! were able to confirm that two undercover Grand Junction police officers had joined their organization. The two undercover officers participated in meetings, trainings, and had signed the membership list joining the organization. HF! NMD! has made it public that they, as an organization, are willing to risk arrest to provide shelter for and by the homeless this up coming winter.
Fantastic detective work by the GJ activists! Great security culture; and that even though Grand Junction is a small town, close-knit communities pay off.
“I’m honestly not surprised,” said Connie Murillo, “they stood out since the beginning.” Murillo said that she was disappointed that the police would resort to political surveillance. “Undercover policing of public political organizing destroys community trust of the police.”
Murillo was at the police station waiting for a friend who was doing some paperwork around noon on Wednesday. When she saw the two undercover officers escorting themselves through a secured door into the lobby and then out the rear secured door of the police station. “I got up to make sure they were the same guys that were at the meetings, and they both looked back as they were leaving. It was definitely them.” Murillo said.
Minutes before the beginning of the first HF! NMD! on July 7th in Whitman Park, police scanner traffic indicated that two officers were on “special assignment at Whitman Park.” Indicating that the police had planted undercover officers at that meeting.
One of the officers who called himself “Vic” claimed to be an Iraq War vet who had been houseless since he discharged from the military. Vic and his fellow officer reported to be camped at two different locations to two different people in the organization.
“This is really just more of the same police intimidation and harassment that is directed at the the houseless population in our city on a regular basis,” said HF! member Laurel Ripple. “I don’t see what the city and police find so frightening about the poor and the houseless organizing themselves.”
HF! member Jacob Richards said that three members of his organization were harassed by the police after the first HF! NMD! meeting on July 7th. “Three different people all said the same thing: that officer Cody Kennedy and four other officers told a number of homeless people in the park that they ‘never should of had that meeting,’ that they ‘have the wrong idea,’ and that ‘you don’t know what kind of trouble you’ve started.’
Despite all this the group is still willing to work with the police department. “Deputy Chief John Zen has made an effort to establish open lines of communication between the police department and our organization, and though the discovery of undercover police at our meetings sets things back a little bit, we are still willing to work with the GJPD. In fact they are vital partners if our organization wants to achieve our first goal which is “No More Deaths on the Streets of Grand Junction.” said Richards.
Note the Chief of Police resigned today as well. The above is the Press Release that HF! NMD! is sending out. And attached is a photo of the undercover officers at the first meeting of HF! NMD!