By Steve Neavling
Federal authorities became worried in 2014 that black activists who were calling for an end to the police killings of African Americans would join international terrorist groups such as ISIS.
Unsurprisingly, authorities found no evidence to substantiate their baseless concerns, according to documents obtained by the government transparency group Property of the People and shared exclusively with The Intercept. 
The records “reveal that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence exaggerated the significance of isolated social media activity, mostly by foreign accounts, advocating for a connection between the domestic movement against police brutality and foreign terrorism.”
As protests broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and Baltimore in 2015, DHS officials worried that ISIS may try “to use the situation in Ferguson as a recruitment tool” or call on “Baltimore rioters to join them.”
A year later, as protests spread to other cities, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet position, issued a memo about a single, foreign pro-Al Qaeda Facebook user who urged “‘Black’ Americans to take up arms” and “start armed war against the U.S. government.”
This wasn’t the first time federal law enforcement warned of black activists.
In a 2017 threat assessment report, the FBI came up with the label, “Black Identity Extremism,” to warn about potential homegrown violence stemming from anger over police shootings.
No evidence was ever found to tie black activists with terrorism.
“They try to make it more scary, it’s like, ‘If we link Islam to it, and we link Muslims to it, then people will see this as a real threat, because nothing is scarier than Muslims,’” Umar Lee, a well-known St. Louis activist, who is Muslim, told The Intercept. “Nothing is scarier than, ‘Hey, if the Muslims get together with these scary black dudes, then we got a real problem, so we need every resource available to stop this.’”