Records show FBI provided assistance to local law enforcement at least twice in 2016 to monitor Black Lives Matter protests

Records show FBI provided assistance to local law enforcement at least twice in 2016 to monitor Black Lives Matter protests

Bureau provided social media surveillance and on the ground threat monitoring

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Edited by JPat Brown

Documents released to MuckRock in response to a FOIA request and posted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Vault show that the FBI helped local law enforcement monitor and police at least two Black Lives Matter protests in July 2016.

FBI memos and emails show that law enforcement agencies in Ocala, Florida and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma requested the bureau’s assistance in “intelligence collection” on potential threats to upcoming protests against police brutality.

The request from Oklahoma City Police Department for “liaison and intel support” came just a day after the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 7th. The FBI memo explicitly references the Dallas shooting as part of their reasoning for agreeing to assist local police there.

The documents show that the FBI, in monitoring for safety concerns, was tipped off to a potential threat from a Facebook post shared on July 13th, which read: “Black Lives Matter event in Bricktown Sunday night I.S.I.S. have a bomber in the city.”

The poster, whose identity is redacted in the files, is apparently a familiar name to OCPD, who the FBI said are “aware of [redacted] and his messages.]” At the same time, the files indicate that it is not known whether the poster lives in the U.S.

There is no evidence that this threat was real. However, it does follow a pattern of federal and local law enforcement expressing concerns about the radicalization of Black Lives Matter organizers by ISIS.

The records also include a heavily redacted document which appears to detail the FBI’s use of a certain kind of tactical or surveillance technique while assisting OCPD at the July 10th protest. The information is all redacted under exemption b(7)e, which exempts information that would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.”

An FBI agent based in Oklahoma City was stationed with the OCPD to monitor “potential threats to protestors or law enforcement” during the demonstration, and this file seems to be reporting this agent’s use of a specific FBI tactic or tool.

The documents also include an import form detailing the OCPD’s arrest of a protestor who was carrying smoke bombs in his backpack.

The records documenting FBI assistance to Ocala PD say that the protest was peaceful and no threats materialized. The FBI found nothing concerning through its social media monitoring, and “nothing was turned over to the police” regarding the demonstration.

Follow-up requests have been filed with the Ocala and Oklahoma City police departments. In the meantime, read the full release embedded below or on the request page.

Image by Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC-BY 2.0