Black Lives Matter Supporters in Oregon Targeted by State Surveillance

Yesterday it was revealed that the Criminal Justice Division of the Oregon Department of Justice has secretly surveilled Oregonians who use the Black Lives Matter hashtag — including the state’s own director of civil rights, Erious Johnson. This is deeply disturbing and offensive — and it is a serious threat to our democracy. 

Surveilling people based on their political ideas undercuts the fundamental freedoms that our country was founded on. If people can be targeted for speech and activities protected by the First Amendment, then they will be reluctant to speak or write openly about their beliefs. And let’s not miss that this surveillance is targeting people who use  #BlackLivesMatter on social media throws open the door to racial profiling because the movement is Black-led.

We have serious questions for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum: How did this happen? At whose direction? How long has this been going on and how many Oregonians have been caught up in this likely illegal surveillance? How can we ensure that this will not happen again?

Political, racial, or religious minorities cannot enjoy the equality and dignity afforded them by the Constitution when they are routinely subjected to discriminatory profiling and surveillance by the government. History has taught us that many levels of government employ invasive, and at times unconstitutional, surveillance tactics. Now, it seems the Oregon’s own Justice Department  is also involved in unconstitutional surveillance of its citizens.

The government has a long history of targeting activists. Ninety years ago, it was foreign "subversives" and labor organizers. Sixty years ago, the targets were government employees, entertainers, writers, and academics suspected of being Communist "sympathizers." In the  ’60s and ’70s, the targets were anti-war protestors and civil rights activists. Post 9/11, the targets were Muslims, people of Middle Eastern and Arab descent, and “radical” environmentalists. And now the Black Lives Matter movement is the latest target

This is not the first time law enforcement in Oregon has been caught surveilling innocent people. In the 1970s, we uncovered Portland Police investigations of the ACLU of Oregon and many other nonprofits and community groups. This discovery led us to help pass a law in 1981 — the only law of its kind in the country — that prohibits our state and local police from collecting information about the political, religious, or social views of any individual or group unless that information directly relates to a criminal investigation.

Having a good law on the books is clearly not enough. We need meaningful oversight of law enforcement intelligence activities to make sure these important safeguards for our freedoms won’t be ignored again. The simple act of expressing concern about racial justice on social media should not be enough to trigger information gathering by the Oregon Department of Justice. (I can’t believe I had to just write that sentence.)

We hope this situation is limited in scope and the revelation allows our state attorney general to make reforms that prevent this from ever happening again. Although we hope for the best outcome possible, we are not waiting on the sidelines to see what happens. 

We signed on to a letter from the Urban League of Portland and others encouraging Oregon’s Attorney General to take immediate action and support a full and transparent investigation into these activities. Oregonians need to know the full extent of the state’s involvement in this likely illegal and racially based surveillance. In addition to calling for an investigation, we are preparing to file records requests we hope will help reveal the scope of the program and who else has been caught up in this dragnet. 

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Anonymous

Black lives matter is nothing but a bunch of renegade black thugs. They are angry and bitter because they are failures in life and they blame white people and they hate most white people. Just look at Missouri and all the trouble that black people have caused their as they have throughout most of the country. Black people are the racist Of this country.

Anonymous

It's 'There' btw. How's Fox news?

Anonymous

As a white person, I think you are a moron. First, you used "their" in your third sentence an you should have used "there" (which refers to a location). Second, you are correct that they are "angry and bitter". I would be too! These people have been held back in US society for the last 200+ years and yes, they should blame "white people" or at least the white normative culture which makes it much easier for white men to stay out of jail, get a quality education, get a high paying job, get high quality health care, and many other benefits. So why don't you go learn a bit about the history of our country so the rest of us white people don't have to get grouped in with ignorant racist bigots like you. Thanks!

Anonymous

On the contrary. It's people like you who are the problem. It's people like you who used human excrement to paint a swastika in a dorm at UM, and who hung a noose around a tree at Duke University. Your response is a perfect example of how bigotry and ignorance hold this nation back from becoming racially equal. Seriously - go educate yourself, and take some sensitivity training while you're at it!

Anonymous

I think you mistyped '4chan' and ended up at the ACLU website. Not sure if you noticed.

Anonymous

Take a long, long look at yourself and your privilege to be white ('cause I'm absolutely sure you're white) in a country that literally enslaved black people and systematically discriminated against them afterwards up to, oh, TODAY.

Seriously ask yourself: Why do you hate?

Anonymous

this was started by white kkk-police who like you wearing white hood at nite and police uniform at day time

daniel sudduth

^notice the spelling and grammatical errors.notice the cowardly "anonymous" handle.like most racists,this person is fearful and stupid.looking forward to the day this is not commonplace.

boss

you sir, are a racist

Anonymous

You guys wouldn't bat an eyelash if it was a right leaning political group.
Besides, using a simple "#" makes following the protesters incredibly easy.

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