Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Police admit surveillance of Dole protesters

Trial opens for one of three charged with battery on law officer outside institute dedication dinner

January 21, 2004

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A Lawrence police officer on Tuesday described conducting surveillance on a group of protesters prior to a march July 21 at a Dole Institute of Politics dedication event.

The surveillance included filming a gathering at South Park the day before the protest and filming the outside a home at 1305 Tenn. where one of the protesters was believed to live, plainclothes officer Sean Brown testified on the first day of trial for Wesley R. Teal, of Lawrence. Teal is charged with pushing Lawrence Police Lt. Ray Urbanek during a confrontation between police and protesters outside a $500-a-plate dinner at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.

Teal, who was 19 at the time of the incident, is one of 18 people arrested at the protest. He's one of three currently facing charges of battery on a law enforcement officer in Douglas County District Court.

Teal and a group of marchers, many of whom label themselves anarchists, protested the banquet because they said it was an insult to the poor and hungry.

Urbanek testified that Teal shoved him with an orange plastic shield as Teal and others tried to cross McDonald Drive. Police had ordered the protesters to stay off the road.

"He just stepped forward and butted into me," Urbanek said.

Defense attorney Richard Frydman argued that the contact between Teal and Urbanek wasn't intentional and wasn't done in a rude, angry or insulting manner -- required elements of the crime of battery.

Police Chief Ron Olin testified he ordered some of the surveillance prior to the protest because he suspected the group would take some kind of action that would hurt or disrupt the dedication event. But Olin said he didn't specifically order the video footage at the home.

Many of the protesters covered their faces that day because they were concerned about police surveillance, Frydman said.

"They didn't want to be part of any database collected by law enforcement," he said.

The trial continues Wednesday.

-- 6News reporter Janet Reid contributed information to this story.

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