Government targets BlackLivesMatter activists

DR. MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO
BLACK AGENDA REPORT

According to a recent investigation by The Intercept, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have launched state-sponsored surveillance against BlackLivesMatter activists as a component of the fight against terrorism.

According to this report, “The department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful.” The report verifies that the surveillance community utilized social media as an important tool, specifically in Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New York.

In fact, according to the materials obtained by The Intercept, evidence indicates “that other counterterror intelligence organizations like the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and state police intelligence groups have been involved in monitoring and apprehending Black Lives Matter activists.”

Seen this before
The 21st century surveillance system, however, is substantially more dangerous than that of the 20th century Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) which operated from 1956 to 1971).

The government manufactured criminal attacks against civil rights and peace activists, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party, NAACP, etc.

The president and the head of the National Security Agency (NSA) deny government spying on citizens. However, an April 2015 memo regarding a demonstration in the Chinatown section of Washington, D.C. is noted in the Intercept report:

“The ‘Watch Desk’ of the DHS’s National Capital Region, FEMA branch compiled this real-time information, despite the fact that an FBI joint intelligence bulletin shared among several DHS officials the day before noted that there was ‘no information suggesting violent behavior is planned for Washington, DC’ and that previous anti-police brutality protests in the wake of Ferguson ‘have been peaceful in nature.’ The bulletin also said that for unspecified reasons ‘we remain concerned that unaffiliated individuals could potentially use this event to commit acts of violence in the Chinatown area.’”

I was there
These national security windfalls catch everyday citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. I attended the Chinatown demonstration, along with other BlackLivesMatter activists.

In the myopic world of the FBI, COINTELPRO’s goal was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” groups that the FBI officials believed were “subversive” by instructing FBI field operatives to create a negative public image for the targeted groups; breaking down internal organization of the groups; creating dissension between groups; and restricting access to public resources, to the ability to organize protests, and to the ability of individuals to participate in group activities.

An article entitled, “How Much Is the US Government Spying on Americans?” states this: The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off. As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android’s operating system … bugging three-quarters of the world’s smartphones.  Google – or the NSA – can remotely turn on your phone’s camera and recorder at any time ….And Microsoft has long worked hand-in-hand with the NSA and FBI so that encryption doesn’t block the government’s ability to spy on users of Skype, Outlook, Hotmail and other Microsoft services.”

‘Ancient’ methods better?
Without high-speed computers, satellite imagery, social media and other technological advances, the FBI and other spy agencies were inefficient and slow. Perhaps one of the benefits of “old school” organizing was the lack of social media (a tool that has been thoroughly compromised by government and corporate surveillance,) that allowed civil rights leaders to develop strong personal relationships with levels of accountability rooted in social institutions. Informal networks were strengthened among civil rights activists in order to circumvent the intentions of an openly hostile and racist government.

Government surveillance of the BlackLivesMatter movement poses new technological and social terrain challenges. New strategies and tactics are required to exchange information among groups and new modalities are required to circumvent infiltration and, ultimately, government sting operations.

The BlackLivesMatter movement is being taken seriously by those invested in thought control and African political suppression through fear. The government, through its surveillance program, seeks to instill fear into the Black resistance movement as it courageously raises the mantle of liberation.

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of “No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA.”

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