Homeland Security Monitoring 'Black Lives Matter' Movement

Recently released documents reveal the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since summer 2014, following the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and the surveillance includes keeping tabs on protests, gatherings, peaceful marches and social media activity.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Intercept, DHS released memos, emails and other documents indicating that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities even activities that are expected to be peaceful. “The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York,” according to The Intercept.

The documents came from DHS’s Office of Operations Coordination, which combines information from intelligence and law enforcement agencies to provide “situational awareness” among its agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In an email to The Intercept,DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said the department does not intentionally infringe upon the rights of citizens under the First Amendment and only seeks information for “situational awareness” purposes.

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