Why Was an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Tracking a Black Lives Matter Protest?

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Members of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force tracked the time and location of a Black Lives Matter protest last December at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, email obtained by The Intercept shows.

The email from David S. Langfellow, a St. Paul police officer and member of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, informs a fellow task force member from the Bloomington police that “CHS just confirmed the MOA protest I was taking to you about today, for the 20th of DEC @ 1400 hours.” CHS is a law enforcement acronym for “confidential human source.”

Jeffrey VanNest, an FBI special agent and Joint Terrorism Task Force supervisor at the FBI’s Minneapolis office, was CC’d on the email. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces are based in 104 U.S. cities and are made up of approximately 4,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The FBI characterizes them as “our nation’s front line on terrorism.”

Activists had planned the protest at the mall to call attention to police brutality against African Americans. “Our system disproportionately targets, profiles and kills black men and women, that’s what we are here talking about,” organizer Michael McDowell told a reporter at the time. “We wanted to show people who have the everyday luxury of just living their lives that they need to be aware of this, too.”

According to an FBI spokesman, Langfellow’s Confidential Human Source was “a tipster with whom Mr. Langfellow is familiar,” who contacted him “after the tipster had discovered some information while on Facebook” that “some individuals may engage in vandalism” at the Mall of America protest. Upon receiving the email, Bloomington police officer and task-force member Benjamin Mansur forwarded it to Bloomington’s then-Deputy Police Chief Rick Hart, adding “Looks like it’s going to be the 20th…” It was then forwarded to all Bloomington police command staff. There is no mention of potential vandalism anywhere in the email chain, and no vandalism occurred at the Mall of America protest.

Read the full article here.

Vince Perfetto

Vince adds diverse experience to the Foundation with a background in broadcasting, accounting, and telecommunications. He loves living in the freest state in America, New Hampshire. With a “Live Free or Die” attitude and a strong independent streak, Vince feels right at home among his fellow N.H. citizens. He was raised to respect others and to work hard to achieve his goals, and thus takes pride in saying he has “the best parents, ever.” When Vince isn’t working on the Foundation, he enjoys hiking, reading, and relaxing with a great New England micro brew.

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