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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Milton Morris

Anger & violence are the core values of some people in the black communities. They're the mother's milk they were raised on. And they relish opportunities to display their core values.

Blacks killing blacks is a daily occurrence. But people, are so used to black on black murder that they just yawn when it happens (blacks & whites alike).

So, Democrats have to quietly wait for the right opportunities to exploit.

But it's Democrats' "Oh Happy Days" when a white person kills a black person. Democrats (and their Pravda-like media) then promote, foment, & incite the black communities to riot because it somehow causes black people to keep voting for Democrats.

And as long as blacks keep voting for Democrats, Democrats won't change a thing. Why should they? After all, change might upset the apple cart.

Unfortunately, that anger & violence gets a lot of people in black communities killed or imprisoned. Plus, I suspect that many of them live in constant fear—not of the police, but of their angry, violent neighbors.

For Democrats keeping black communities enmeshed in poverty & misery is unfortunate, but it guarantees blacks will keep them in office where they can use their power & position to help their rich white friends & repay their rich white campaign contributors.

People have watched this game played for decades now. Yet, they never seem to tire of it. I'm beginning to suspect that during election cycles, it may surpass baseball as America's number one pastime. Plus, it reminds me of reality TV.

Anonymous

Good all they are is thugs making terroristic threats of violence if they dont get what they want. Jokes on them

Matthew Newgarden

The "Hands up Don't shoot" myth spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and waves of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as across the nation. The statistics will show that every municipality in St. Louis county relies on revenue from fines and traffic stops far more than the national average. All demographic groups have fines levied and enforced against them at levels substantially above the national average. These facts have not been widely reported in national media coverage about Ferguson, Missouri. A rational examination of the DOJ report will not prove disparate treatment, let alone discrimination.

Anonymous

Everybody must have smart phone with ACLU app . Do unto them that , which they wish to do to us .

anonymous

Hey Milton
People of Color spearheaded the " Cilvil Rights Movement ". Made everyone's human rights stronger . It's the Person , and what they bring too it .

Anonymous

Black lives matter is setup so that the people demand more surveillance and that we lose more privacy bit by bit stay vigilant people they are having white cops kill black people on purpose for this they are trying to take away our privacy

Anonymous

Wait. How can the government be spying on BLM when the entire Democratic Party membership including the ex president says they aren't spying on ANY Americans, including the new democratically elected President of the United States?
Therefore, there can be NO possible way the government is spying on BLM. You are conspiracy theorists.

Anonymous

Black Lives Matter is led by horrible people it should be labeled a hate group until it is inclusive for all lives instead of just one ethnic group and led by people who are peaceful and call for equality for all.

Anonymous

Good to get these update from this site.

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