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Tag: first amendment

FBI Monitored Black Lives Matter Protests Over Fears of Violence

Black Lives Matter poster on a window in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government has been monitoring Black Lives Matter protests because of fears of potential violence, according to newly released documents from the FBI and Homeland Security.

The surveillance began after a gunman shot and killed five police officers in Dallas, Texas, in July 2016 during a rally against police brutality, Al Jazeera reports

Although the FBI acknowledged the gunman acted alone and was not part of the Black Lives Matter movement, the bureau began warning of “attacks against law enforcement,” using racially charged language, according to a series of emails.

“Due to sensitivities surrounding recent police shootings, the threat of copycat attacks against law enforcement exists,” one email read, adding that “there is a threat of black supremacist extremists attempting to violently co-opt the upcoming DNC/RNC”, referring to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

The emails refer to “black supremacist extremists attempting to violently co-opt the upcoming” Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, told Al Jazeera that the report was misleading because it involved the “blending of activities” of protesters.

“If I’m a police officer on the street trying to address the concerns raised in this report, obviously, I’m going to be focusing on black people,” German said.

In August, an FBI report warned of “Black Identity Extremists” targeting police.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremists perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will likely serve as justification for such violence,” the report, dated August 3, read.

DOJ Trying to Force Facebook to Reveal Names Associated with Anti-Trump Event

computer-photo1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is trying to force Facebook to disclose the names of everyone who interacted with an event page about an anti-Donald Trump rally during the presidential inauguration.

If the social media giant complies with warrants issued by the DOJ, the federal government would receive the Facebook accounts of everyone who “liked” the disruptj20 page and signed up to attend the protest, Gizmodo reports

The ACLU says the Justice Department’s warrants are a violation of the First and Fourth amendments.

“What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting,” ACLU attorney Scott Michelman told CNN.

Facebook said it plans to fight the warrant.

Idaho Photographer Arrested for ‘Public Voyeurism’ for Filming FBI Office

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Idaho man says police violated his First Amendment rights by arresting him for recording video outside of an FBI office.

“I stopped directly across the street and filmed vehicles entering the FBI complex for approximately 10 minutes before a police car drove up behind me,” Sean Johnson wrote to KIFI/KIDK reporter Chris Oswalt in an email. “I was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the complex, near a bus stop. I was just standing there filming, not saying anything to anyone, nor waving my arms around or otherwise causing a commotion.” 

Johnson was approached by an officer who claimed the cameraman was violating the state’s public voyeurism law by recording people without permission. But that law refers to sex crimes.

All federal employees in 2010 were given a three-page memo that states, “Remember the public has the right to photograph the exterior of Federal Buildings from publicly accessible spaces, such as streets, sidewalks, parks or plazas.”

Federal courts have protected the rights of people to photograph and video-record from public space.

“I was taken to jail and held for 15 hours until I paid my bail of $300 directly from my own account,” Johnson wrote in his email. “I have since retained an attorney and the expectation is that the charge of ‘obstruction and delay’ will be dropped by the prosecutor.”

Charges Dismissed Against Man Arrested After Taking Photo of FBI Headquarters

camera policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It took just moments to dismiss a misdemeanor charge against a man who was arrested after he was spotted filming the exterior of the Richmond-area FBI headquarters, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

After public outcry over the arrest of 27-year-old Kyle David Hammond, the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Giroux requested that the charges be dropped. Minutes into the hearing Monday, a Henrico County judge dismissed the case.

In contrast to the debate surrounding his arrest, no public discussion took place in the court.

FBI Hassles Students for Shooting Video Outside FBI Field Office

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two FBI agents paid a visit to the home of a college student after she and two other journalism students shot video outside of the bureau’s field office in San Diego.

An FBI spokesman said two agents visited the home because they were concerned about people shooting video outside of the bureau without calling ahead like many other journalists do, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. 

First Amendment experts expressed concern with the visit, saying the students did nothing wrong and were intimidated by the agents.

The students said they received permission from a guard to shoot the video, and the guard even took down their drivers’ license information.

But before long, they were told to leave.

Residents Want Permission to Monitor Border Patrol Checkpoints from Just 20 Feet Away

Arivaca, AZ

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Border Patrol are making an unusual request: They want permission to monitor agents from 20 feet away.

Two residents of an Arizona town, Arivaca, filed a lawsuit last year, claiming the Border Patrol violates their First Amendment rights and bullies anyone who protests the checkpoint, the Associated Press reports.

An attorney for Border Patrol argued that checkpoints are not a public forum and having people monitor checkpoints would be dangerous.

Toledo Blade Complains to FBI About Treatment of Reporter, Photogpraher

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Toledo Blade journalists who were detained and whose cameras were confiscated by military security have filed complaints with the FBI, saying their First Amendment rights were violated by the Department of Army Police.

The Blade reports that reporter Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser shared their experience with the FBI on Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t want this to be about me or The Blade necessarily,” Mr. Linkhorn said. “I just want to make sure that laws are followed properly and that people have the freedom that they should have.”

The incident happened Friday when Linkhorn and Fraser approached a driveway entrance of General Dynamics Lima tank plant. Although they had media credentials, they were placed in handcuffs, and Fraser’s camera was taken, according to the Blade.

“The Army does not have the right in this country to detain journalists, handcuff them, seize their cameras, and destroy our work product on the whim of an overzealous military police officer,” Dave Murray, managing editor of the newspaper, said. “The photos Ms. Fraser took were taken outside the secure perimeter of the tank plant and were photos that anyone with a cell phone could take as they drive by.”

Government Activist Wins Battle to Parody NSA, Homeland Security with T-Shirts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A government activist named Dan McCall has been selling T-shirts that make fun of the NSA and Homeland Security by using the official seals.

One shirt read, “U.S. Department of Homeland Stupidity.” Another: “The NSA: The only part of government that actually listens.”

After discovering the re-appropriated logos, the federal agencies tried to get McCall to stop and even accused him of committing a crime, the Washington Post reports.

But now both agencies have reached a settlement with McCall, conceding that he has a right to parody the government, even if he is using the official logos.