Law enforcement documents leaked earlier this month show that police were aware that right-wing extremists were the real cause for concern at Black Lives Matter protests, not “antifa,” according to The Intercept.
- President Trump repeatedly claimed that “antifa,” an anti-fascist group, was inciting violence at the protests that took place following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man killed by a police officer in May.
- However, “communications between state, local, and federal law enforcement in the face of the nationwide protests” recently hacked and posted online under the name “BlueLeaks” show substantial reports of the lethal right-wing violence that was hardly mentioned by the Trump administration.
- Michael German, a former FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism and current fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, spoke about the documents:
“Terrorism is distinguished from other violence by its political nature and, as a result, counterterrorism is often highly politicized as well. Here we’re seeing where this politicization of counterterrorism is being reflected in intelligence documents that are going out and are intended to inform state and local law enforcement on the ground. Overall, what you see is a strange sensationalization of the antifa threats — and that doesn’t exist when looking at the boogaloo documents.”
- Conservatives have railed against antifa for years, but the unrest triggered more focus on the group by Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Barr issued a Department of Justice statement saying that federal investigators will be looking into the unrest and that “the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”
- Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, spoke regarding the focus on antifa, saying the Trump administration was using them as “political bait:”
“It is a very dangerous thing when the top law enforcement official unleashes the massive weight of vague and overbroad terrorism labels and authorities for surveillance and investigation for political purposes.
“Unsurprisingly, given what we’ve been warning about for years, those authorities are being used in deeply problematic ways. It’s law enforcement agencies engaging in unjustified discriminatory investigations and bias-based profiling, which in turn generates inaccurate or unreliable information, which is then used by other federal, state and local agencies in a variety of contexts. That’s the problem with JTTFs and fusion centers and the post-911 infrastructure at its core.”