Participants in Black Lives Matter protests have marked an all-too-common rite of passage for social justice movements in the U.S.—they’ve been systematically spied on by the federal government.
According to exclusive reporting from The Intercept published Friday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been monitoring and collecting data on the two-year-old movement since protests against racism and police brutality erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.
“There’s a long history of the federal agencies…seeing black resistance organizations as a threat to national security.”
The revelations are based on an analysis of hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request. As journalist George Joseph reports, the cache of documents “indicate that 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 reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.”
The documents—which Joseph notes “may well represent a small fraction of state surveillance against Black Lives Matter”—show that in some cases, DHS produced minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements in demonstrations and in other cases “planned surveillance of…seemingly innocuous events, two of which were associated with historically black neighborhoods.”
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