If the FBI is going to investigate dissent, than someone has to investigate the FBI. That’s why for decades we’ve continuously and meticulously documented the FBI’s bad acts. We use this information to educate the public and policymakers alike that these continued abuses of First Amendment rights are a threat.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the nation’s top law enforcement and domestic intelligence agency. They do more, however, than pursue crime or threats to national security. For over a century, the FBI has spied on dissent. It’s predecessor organization, the Bureau of Investigation made it clear that investigating radical political views was a top priority. This culminated when the General Intelligence Division, or Radical Division, headed by J. Edgar Hoover carried out the Palmer Raids, rounding up and deporting radicals. The FBI itself proudly carried on this tradition, creating an index of political dissidents and implementing the infamous COINTELPRO program to not only spy on disfavored political groups, but disrupt and neutralize them.
All of this may seem like ancient history, but it’s not. It was only a handful of years after the Church Committee exposed this conduct before the FBI was back to its old tricks investigating opponents of US Central America policy. And today, the FBI is still at it. We know the FBI has spied on Occupy Wall Street, antiwar, and environmental groups. They’ve made house calls to Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and Palestinian solidarity activists. They’ve created an intelligence assessment on “Black Identity Extremists,” which claims African-Americans rightfully angered by police racism are a threat to law enforcement. And they continue to deploy informants and infiltrators in the Muslim community writ large, essentially transforming religion into a proxy for suspicion.
Activists gathered at the David A Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC to discuss FBI surveillance and infiltration of Black and Muslim activism and communities, and to develop a strategic plan to expose and bring an end to the worst FBI abuses.
DRAD executive director joined the National Conference of Black Lawyers’ Adjoa A. Aayetoro on the Real News Network to talk about the FBI’s Black Identity Extremism report, and the work of a new Collective formed to organize to stop FBI spying on Black activism.
Ahead of Hearing, Defending Rights & Dissent Urges Homeland Security Committee to Address Law Enforcement Abuses of Counterterrorism Authorities
With an uptick in white supremacist violence, the House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on “Confronting the Rise of Domestic Terrorism in the Homeland.” Defending Rights & Dissent recognizes the real threat white supremacist violence poses to many communities. We also have deep concerns about how law enforcement routinely abuses their counterterrorism authorities. The framework of “terrorism” has been used to criminalize some of the very same communities most at risk from white supremacist violence. When investigating nonviolent activists, law enforcement frequently cite their counterterrorism authorities.
The Portland City Council voted 3-2 to sever ties with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).Given the FBI’s persistent surveillance of activists, its targeting of the Muslim community, and overly permissive guidelines, Defending Rights & Dissent strongly supports the effort of municipalities to break with the JTTF.
The FBI opened a counterterrorism investigation into racial justice group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). The precipitating incident was a counter protest against the white supramcists. At the protest, individuals brought knives and violently stabbed anti-racist counter protesters. This led the FBI to investigate…the counter protesters