LANSING, Mich. A Michigan State University police officer posed as a student to infiltrate a student activist group, and the ACLU said it may take legal action.
University officials confirmed this month that an undercover officer investigated Students for Economic Justice. The incident was first reported in the State News, the university's student newspaper.
Students for Economic Justice has been active in the movement against sweatshops that make university-logo clothing.
Students for Economic Justice released a public statement Thursday concerning the undercover police officer investigation. History senior Michael Krueger speaks to television media in front of the Administration Building. (MEGAN SPELMAN The State News)
The Lansing chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said Friday it has filed a Freedom of Information request and may take legal action after it reviews documents on campus surveillance.
"The ACLU takes very seriously any efforts by public agencies to stifle, discourage or regulate political speech," chapter President Henry Silverman said in a letter to the Michigan State Board of Trustees.
Members of Students for Economic Justice said university police Officer Jamie Gonzales posed as an elementary education junior for group meetings and activities beginning in February 2000. She was later seen on campus in uniform.
Michigan State police Assistant Chief Jim Dunlap said the investigation was ordered over concern that a visit by World Bank President James Wolfensohn could spur violent protest.
A 1999 fire targeting the school's agricultural biotechnology program also was a factor, university officials said. The Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmentalist organization, claimed responsibility for the fire.
An independent panel has been appointed to review university policy on undercover investigations, and a police oversight committee also is looking into the matter, Michigan State spokesman Terry Denbow said.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press