Documents Reveal That Federal Agency Monitored Black Lives Matter Demonstrations but Ignored White Supremacist Involvement in Violent Protests

Illustration for article titled Documents Reveal That Federal Agency Monitored Black Lives Matter Demonstrations but Ignored White Supremacist Involvement in Violent Protests
Photo: Lynsey Weatherspoon (Getty Images)

America knows it has a homegrown terrorist problem, it just isn’t ready to deal with the reality that the face of American terrorism is...well...a hueless face. White people have no problem accepting the fact that not all terrorists come from the land of scary Muslims and that some come from right here in the U.S of A, as long as those terrorists are identified as America hating Black Lives Matter advocates, Black Identity Extremists or conservative’s new favorite boogyman group, Antifa. (Despite the fact that all indications are that there is no organized Antifa group currently operating.)

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Emails and records recently obtained by BuzzFeed News show that federal agents have been monitoring Black Lives Matter protests as well as the social media accounts of possible protesters and activists for “intelligence” on upcoming demonstrations. Of course, something is missing in those documents authored by the Federal Protective Service, a division within the Department of Homeland Security: Mentions of white supremacy.

“In the hundreds of pages of emails and intelligence reports, there is only a single explicit mention of white supremacist groups or other far-right extremists, despite the fact that their presence at the protests was known by federal law enforcement officials,” BuzzFeed reports.

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The egregiousness of white supremacist activity connected to violent protests being absent in FSP’s reports is compounded by the fact the agency describes Black Lives Matter demonstrations like they’re doomsday cut-scenes from Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.

From BuzzFeed:

The email from the Federal Protective Service commander in Philadelphia was stark and alarming: “Apparent anarchists are numerous and are attacking banks, public structure, and statues,” he wrote on May 30, under the subject line “Ongoing Violence toward Law Enforcement.” “They are discussing burning down the Federal Reserve.”

The mission of the FPS is to “prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorism, criminal acts and other hazards threatening” the US government and its infrastructure.

Officials at the FPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. BuzzFeed News requested all records pertaining to the protests; the agency’s response indicated that some documents were withheld because of ongoing law enforcement investigations.

An “Information Bulletin” issued May 29 by the FPS investigations branch warned that “many of these demonstrations will continue to include destruction and/or violence” and that “participants may be wielding rudimentary weaponry and improvised incendiary devices” and “may conduct their attack if an opportunity exists.”

Despite characterizing BLM protesters like they’re the children from Lord of the Flies, an FPS intelligence research specialist wrote in one of the emails that the department has “not found any information regarding PLANNED violence/destruction for any of these events.”

Civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation David Greene spoke to BuzzFeed about the surveillance and how eerily similar it sounds to the plot of Minority Report.

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“In some ways, maybe most ways, it’s routine police work to search for publicly available sources of information about crime—so it’s not unexpected when they are investigating crime [like the purported throwing of a molotov cocktail],” Greene said. “But we don’t want to see it for what looks like monitoring of participants in a protest. And we’d be concerned if there were an indication that they were collecting images or social media information of peaceful protestors—really, even if non-peaceful, just not associated with criminal activity—and creating dossiers of protestors to use for future undefined investigations or potential crime.”

Again, as bad as it all looks, it looks even worse because the federal agency seems to be ignoring white supremacist groups, even when they fit the profile for the very thing they’re seeking information on.

In at least one case, authorities used social media posts to try to identify protesters who may have witnessed a Molotov cocktail being thrown at an ICE facility whose location is redacted in the documents. A May 28 email to the FPS about the incident points out: “[A] video on Twitter that does not show the Molotov cocktail being used but does show the faces of some protesters. A hashtag on the post indicated the protest was in support of George Floyd.”

A May 29 DHS report found that white supremacists on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, discussed using “cocktails, chainsaws, and firearms” against “riot police.” But the single mention in the FPS intelligence reports merely notes that protesters in Washington DC had informed authorities of a “small group of approximately 4-5 White Supremacists in the crowd.” It says nothing further.

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FPS even went out of its way to compare Islamic terrorism to violent protests in the U.S. rather than immediately make the more obvious comparison to white conservative extremist groups.

In another instance, an “operational readiness bulletin” warning agents to be prepared for possible “vehicle ramming attacks against pedestrians” states that “offenders aligned with violent terrorist extremist ideologies, such as those espoused by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and al-Qa’ida, probably will increase their use of vehicle ramming attacks.”

The report references high-profile vehicle rammings in France, Spain, the UK, and New York City, as well as the 2017 attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a white supremacist killed a protester. But the report gets the state wrong, placing Charlottesville in North Carolina, and makes no reference to white supremacy.

In fact, there would be at least 18 incidents of vehicle rammings during the Black Lives Matter protests, but none tied to Islamic extremists. Rather, a Ku Klux Klan leader was convicted of one such incident in June in Virginia.

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Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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mr-ducksauce
Mr.DuckSauce

White Agencies protecting racist white people, you don’t say!