MCCRC is among over 60 civil rights and civil liberties groups co-signing a letter to Congress expressing concern over revelations of FBI and DHS surveillance of nonviolent protest groups and movements, and calling on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to
“…investigate and report on FBI and DHS surveillance of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, anti-Keystone XL Pipeline activists, and the School of Americas Watch [… and] address in their reports what reforms are necessary to prevent counterterrorism resources from being used to monitor non-violent First Amendment-protected activity.” [links from letter]
The letter was initiated by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation (BORDC/DDF), and boasts signatory organizations ranging from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to Greenpeace to Veterans for Peace; its full text is available at the end of this post.
As the letter states, the FBI has unfortunately had a long history of confusing protest with criminality. Thos old habits apparently die hard; as BORDC/DDF’s Chip Gibbons put it on a RealNewsNetwork interview,
“…while the FBI no longer is tasked with investigating “subversives,” or “radicals,” they’ve continuously used their counterterrorism authority to spy on political groups. And they always go, oh, we don’t do political surveillance. We do counterterrorism surveillance. But if all, if many of the groups you’re looking at are just nonviolent political groups, it’s very clear they’re doing political surveillance. […] …DHS has a similar talking point. You know, they say, we’re not doing political surveillance, we’re doing situational awareness. But if that situational awareness is the movements, locations, and times of Black Lives Matter protests, the situation you’re being aware of is dissent.”
You can add your name to a BORDC/DDF petition urging Congress to rein in the FBI from surveilling nonviolent protest movements under the guise of counterterrorism. From the introduction to the petition:
The FBI claims it no longer spies on groups because of their political beliefs. Yet, over and over again, we have found out that the FBI surveils, and even deploys confidential informants, against groups it acknowledges are totally peaceful. Why does the FBI do this? It claims it is conducting “counterterrorism investigations.” It would seem that the FBI has difficulty discerning between terrorism and activism. Isn’t it time for Congress to help them learn the difference?
The full text of the letter can be read below: