The documents, released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Operations Coordination, 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.
“It is concerning that the government would be diverting resources towards surveilling citizens who are assembling and expressing their First Amendment rights,” says Maurice Mitchell, an organizer with Blackbird, a group that helps support activism against police violence in communities across the country. “The fact that our government is doing this — I can only assume to disrupt us — is pretty alarming… Directly after 9/11, people said, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.’ Well, now we’re fighting back against police brutality and extrajudicial killings, yet they are using this supposedly anti-terrorist infrastructure against us.
This honestly should come as no surprise, especially if you're familiar with Cointelpro. Monitoring the moves of civil rights activists is something the American government has been doing for years. As a matter of fact, every since slavery the powers that be here in the United States have been conspiring to eradicate black figures and neutralize any type of resistance they considered to be a threat to their infrastructure. Most recently, that threat comes from the many #Blacklivesmatter demonstrations that have been popping up all over the country. So you had to know that the Department of Homeland Security would begin to focus it's attention on the movement. That information is now being made public, thanks to The Intercept.
It is also said that Homeland Security even monitors peaceful protests where demonstrators are protected by the First Amendment. So basically, even if you're operating well within your your constitutional right to protest, they are still monitoring your moves. This is all an effort to put fear in the minds of protesters hoping they will simply back down. With all the information they have gathered, it's still not enough for them to realize that people believe their civil rights are worth fighting for; even if their every move is being watched as a result of it.
Remon is a multi-media personality. He is the founder of The Urban Advocate.