Groups recently targeted by the FBI include SOAW, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Keystone XL Pipeline activists. Meanwhile DHS and local fusion centers, which operate as local sources of “counter-terrorism” intelligence gathering and sharing, monitored the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements as well.
What’s more, the groups note, “documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the FBI continuously invokes counterterrorism authorities to monitor groups it admits are peaceful and nonviolent.”
“Labeling activism as terrorism criminalizes political dissent,” the letter states. “Given the current political climate and draconian laws concerning terrorism, individuals may be deterred from participating in completely lawful speech, such as a protest march, by this stigma.”
“That the FBI cannot discern between activism and terrorism shows us that they think dissent is still the enemy,” said Chip Gibbons, legal fellow with Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, which organized the letter. “There have been multiple attempts at reform but after each and every one we see the same thing happening again. The FBI claims to no longer investigate groups for their political beliefs, but look at who the FBI investigates under its counterterrorism authority—peace groups, racial justice groups, economic justice groups—the very same types of organizations that were targeted during the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover.”
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