ACLU: Md. police kept files on 20 activist groups

FREDERICK, Md. – The American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday that it had obtained records showing the Maryland State Police kept files on at least 20 groups the police considered potential security threats.

The list is longer than the approximately one dozen previously disclosed. It includes the anti-war group Women in Black and the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization.

Sixteen of the groups allowed the ACLU to release the files it obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Those documents are on the ACLU of Maryland Web site.

Police have acknowledged spying on groups and 53 individuals it wrongly classified as terrorists over a 14-month period in 2005 and 2006. The agency said it opened files on others but halted surveillance once it determined they posed no threat to public safety.

The groups identified by the ACLU are: ACORN, All Peoples Congress, American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty, CASA of Maryland, D.C. Anti-War Network, Equality Maryland, Humane League of Baltimore, International Socialist Organization, Maryland Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes, Maryland Green Party, PeaceAction Montgomery and Women in Black.