The Government Is Watching #BlackLivesMatter, And It’s Not Okay

According to documents recently obtained by The Intercept in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the government is surveilling the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Records from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Operations Coordination show that since August 2014, DHS officials have been trolling public social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, to map and collect information on #BlackLivesMatter protests –and supposedly related events. Targeted activities include silent vigils held across the country following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, an anti-police brutality protest in Philadelphia, and an April 2015 #BlackLivesMatter protest in Washington D.C.  The documents even show a plan to gather information on a funk music parade in a historically Black neighborhood in the nation’s capital.

Perhaps most troubling are the Google maps and live updates tracking, minute-by-minute, the movements of participants in an April 2015 #BlackLivesMatter protest in Washington, D.C.  A DHS email released to the Intercept confirms that on the day before the event, several DHS officials were aware of a Federal Bureau of Investigation joint intelligence bulletin characterizing the protest as a “First Amendment-protected event,” and noting that there was “no information suggesting that violent behavior is planned for Washington, DC.”

What will be done with this trove of information? We know that DHS shares what it gathers with local and federal law enforcement for targeting police stops and investigations. Information about specific individuals can also be funneled into the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting system, which provides reports to the FBI through regional fusion centers.

The problem with this is obvious. Modern protest movements speak, associate, and organize through social media. Their tweets, blogs, protests, marches, and die-ins are the trumpets by which they call for reform and social justice. Government monitoring of activists’ protests – simply because these activists dissent and without any evidence of wrongdoing – threatens to discourage them from speaking, associating, and expressing as is their right under the First Amendment. Surveillance of #BlackLivesMatter protests also opens the door to racial profiling because the movement is Black-led.

Throughout our country’s history, the federal government has used the fear of threats – real or perceived – to conduct surveillance on domestic groups and people who look or act different. Civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activists in the 1960s and 1970s, American Muslim civil rights leaders and academics post-9/11, and the FBI’s recent, expansive racial, religious, and ethnic mapping program are a handful of examples.

Today, at a time when the public is outraged and sickened that Black men and women are killed by police in too many incidents raising concerns about racial profiling, excessive force, and gross disregard for Black lives, the tracking of #BlackLivesMatter threatens to harm that movement and all others seeking equal treatment for minority Americans.

Progress toward racial justice in America has been made precisely because brave people, particularly people of color, have raised their voices to hold America accountable to its promises of equality and liberty. Courageous men and women of color have stood up in order to call for the abolition of the chattel slavery, to urge the adoption of a constitutional amendment promising equal protection of the law, to demand an end to the legalized racial segregation that ruled America for 90 years, and to insist on federal protection for Black people’s right to vote after decades of disenfranchisement through enforced terror.

The generations of civil rights activists who made these calls were branded as “dangerous,” “terrorist,” and “subversive.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his family, his colleagues in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress for Racial Equality, and countless other individuals and groups heralded today for their vision of racial equality in America were victims of FBI surveillance in the 1960’s.

Surveillance of today’s civil rights activists is equally wrong. We do not need to wait 50 years to understand that.

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Anonymous

Sorry to be picky. It's 1960s and 1970s. You do not add an apostrophe unless you're making it possessive.

Anonymous

How hypocritical it is to officially deplore this domestic spying by other governments in other countries and indeed have it used as justification for our hostile foreign policies toward those countries.

Anonymous

I am in support of Black Lives Matter, and I show up at demonstrations whenever I can, in my city.

It pains me that our country, my country, has sunk this low in racial and human relations. I will keep on supporting the movement.

Don't give up. Keep fighting until you get what you want and need. Many of us are with you.

Anonymous

What are you supporting? Twice they have disrupted Bernie Sanders trying to speak. Bernie who is the never one candidate that cares about black lives. You support that?

G. Gregg

There is no excuse for the level of unconstitutional government surveillance that currently occurs in The United States. It is especially egregious that political movements seeking justice for oppressed minorities are targeted. It appears to be a governmental legitimization of oppression. Have the FBI and NSA targeted police forces that practice racial profiling for surveillance?

JB Smith

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the brain initiative are the worst scams ever perpetrated on the American people. Former U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin Warns: Biochips Hazardous to Your Health: Warning, biochips may cause behavioral changes and high suicide rates. State Attorney Generals are to revoke the licenses of doctors and dentists that implant chips in patients. Chip used illegally for GPS, tracking, organized crime, communication and torture. Virginia state police have been implanting citizens without their knowledge and consent for years and they are dying! Check out William and Mary’s site to see the torture enabled by the biochip and the Active Denial System. See Terrorism and Mental Health by Amin Gadit or A Note on Uberveillance by MG & Katina Michael or Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence by Springer or Mind Control, Microchip Implants and Cybernetics. Check out the audio spotlight by Holosonics.

“Former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director and now Google Executive, Regina E. Dugan, has unveiled a super small, ingestible microchip that we can all be expected to swallow by 2017. “A means of authentication,” she calls it, also called an electronic tattoo, which takes NSA spying to whole new levels. She talks of the ‘mechanical mismatch problem between machines and humans,’ and specifically targets 10 – 20 year olds in her rant about the wonderful qualities of this new technology that can stretch in the human body and still be functional. Hailed as a ‘critical shift for research and medicine,’ these biochips would not only allow full access to insurance companies and government agencies to our pharmaceutical med-taking compliancy (or lack thereof), but also a host of other aspects of our lives which are truly none of their business, and certainly an extension of the removal of our freedoms and rights.” Google News

The ARRA authorizes payments to the states in an effort to encourage Medicaid Providers to adopt and use “certified EHR technology” aka biochips. ARRA will match Medicaid $5 for every $1 a state provides. Hospitals are paid $2 million to create “crisis stabilization wards” (Gitmo’s) where state police torture people – even unto death. They stopped my heart 90 times in 6 hours. Virginia Beach EMT’s were called to the scene.
Mary E. Schloendorff, v. The Society of New York Hospital 105 N. E. 92, 93 (N. Y. 1914) Justice Cardozo states, “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages. (Pratt v Davis, 224 Ill. 300; Mohr v Williams, 95 Minn. 261.)

This case precedent requires police to falsely arrest you or kidnap you and call you a mental health patient in order to force the implant on you. You can also be forced to have a biochip if you have an infectious disease – like Eboli or Aids. Coalition of Justice vs the City of Hampton, VA settled a case out of court for $500,000 and removal of the biochip. Torture is punishable by $1,000 per day up to $2 million; Medical battery is worth $2.05 million.

They told my family it was the brain initiative. This requires informed, knowledgeable consent. Mark Warner told me it was research with the Active Denial System by the College of William and Mary, the USAF, and state and local law enforcement. It is called IBEX and it is excruciating. If you are an organ donor, they volunteer you.

Anonymous

This type of behavior does NOT help your cause! It only reinforces racist viewpoints.

don

Damn straight! Black people need to learn to behave and follow the golden rule, and in a couple of years you won't get stopped by the cops any more than us white people. BTW, I get stopped every 6 months or so as a middle aged white guy who worked for the US Govt. Thanks a lot there black people, for making law enforcement suspicious of everyone, by acting out all the outrageous jungle behaviour crap in yr silly a$$ rap and hip hop BS!!! That hateful and hate-filled stuff offends me every bit as much as you all being called the "N-word" by non-blacks offends you guys!!!

Anonymous Dawn

So true!

Anonymous

Not that I don't support the BLM movement and am sympathetic to it's cause, but the FBI monitors EVERY major group/rally/event/etc. To simply point that they are doing it based on race is somewhat disingenuous. Furthermore, they do it for several reasons. The BLM movement has had several "extreme" activists, like nearly all groups, and it's the FBI's job to protect those that are involved in the rallies as well as those that are not. There could easily be an attack, like the one in Charleston, where innocent peaceful protesters are targeted, or worse murdered. It is the FBI's job to make sure that something like that doesn't happen. It is also their job to make sure that there are no radical protesters who are planning on causing problems that are not in line with the movement's motives. To simply say it is because of race or some bias is unfair and a completely, and ironically, biased look at their motives.

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