There’s Nothing New About Federal Meddling In Protest Movements

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tags: Police, FBI, radicalism, COINTELPRO

Within a democracy, free protests are absolutely vital. But the U.S. doesn’t seem to like them — in fact, the feds have been infiltrating the lives of protesters for a long time. Since the George Floyd protests swept the nation, and really for several years now, the FBI has been busy making things worse with its sweeping surveillance measures and campaigns to discredit American activists.

It’s nothing new. As former FBI agent Mike German said, the FBI has spent years transforming from a law enforcement organization into an undefined “national security” organization focused on intelligence. While expanding its surveillance powers, the FBI has abandoned its duty to support “the investigations of state and local authorities” in instances of “excessive force or police misconduct.” No longer apolitical enforcers of the law, the organization is now an existential threat to our democracy.

It should be no surprise that the FBI has resorted to measures including aerial surveillance in the wake of the protests. Persistent monitoring of different protest movements has been going on for years now. Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, environmental activists, Palestinian solidarity activists, Abolish ICE protesters — they’ve all faced tough scrutiny from the FBI.

The targeting of protesters based on ideological grounds hearkens back to a darker era in history where it was common for the FBI to disrupt and discredit various activist movements through measures of state repression. Under a young agent J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI routinely cracked down on dissidents in a number of infamous episodes, including the Palmer Raids, where citizens were rounded up without due process on the basis of their political speech. Similarly, in the 1920s and 30s, Italian and Eastern European immigrants were accused of being “Bolshevists” and “leftists,” with nearly 10,000 citizens arrested, thousands forced into detention, and hundreds forcibly removed.

Read entire article at Orange County Register

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