The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize. The pernicious background of such groups, their duplicity, and devious maneuvers must be exposed to public scrutiny where such publicity will have a neutralizing effect.
—J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, 1967 (in the letter above)
—J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, 1967 (in the letter above)
Protests of raw grief and despair didn't come a few days later, but started that very day on Canfield Drive—very much fueled by the horrific wails from Brown's parents, friends, and relatives. As soon as the protests began, something else happened and it has devolved into a much uglier narrative than one could have imagined over two months ago when Brown was killed. It's as if we've gone back in time.
Police and government tactics to intimidate, criminalize, humiliate, and undermine activists started on Day 1 in Ferguson and have only gotten worse, and the tactics used echo those of an earlier era.
Officially started in 1956 by the FBI, COINTELPRO (short for counterintelligence program) subversively investigated and undermined virtually every prominent African-American leader in the country for 15 years. A veritable Who's Who of leaders, ranging from Malcolm X to Fannie Lou Hamer to Jackie Robinson to Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King were investigated and interfered with on the deepest levels. Undercover agents spied on leaders, federal informants were planted inside of their organizations, disinformation was often deliberately spread with the intention of sowing discord and strife between leaders and organizations. To this day, huge volumes of the COINTELPRO documents are redacted, fueling speculation on just what they may be hiding 40 years later.
While the program was officially ended in 1971, echoes of COINTELPRO are reverberating in Ferguson, Missouri, today and leaders on the ground and supporters around the world report feeling the attempts to discredit them are constant. Read on for more ....
While rumors of FBI involvement in Ferguson existed for weeks, it wasn't until this Reuters report was released that the FBI was actively meeting with St. Louis officials "two to three times per week" that it was fully confirmed. Since then, instances of COINTELPRO-like activities by local police and government officials appear to have had a dramatic uptick.
What you will see below is a regularly updated list of documented cases of police abuse, humiliation, misinformation, outright lies, coercion, informants, plants, and more. This list will be updated regularly.
—Just hours after Brown was killed, angry police dogs, in a throwback to the civil rights movement, were brought to the site of the shooting to intimidate protestors.
—St. Louis Police Chief John Belmar, the day after Mike Brown's death, holds a press conference about the shooting and tells a fundamental lie about how far Mike Brown's body was found from Darren Wilson's SUV. In his press conference, on two separate occasions, Chief Belmar said Mike Brown's body was found 35 feet away from the SUV, but it was actually found over 100 feet away - a significant difference.
—When asked to justify the use of military-grade equipment and weapons, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, speaking to the press said, referring to the protestors, "people are using pipe bombs and so forth." To this very day, not one shred of evidence exists that any protestor ever set off a single pipe bomb.
—At the press conference in which Ferguson Police Chief Jackson first planned to announce the identity of the officer who killed Brown, he instead released a packet of information with photos and a link to a video, against the explicit request of the Department of Justice, showing Brown in a local convenience store allegedly stealing cigars the day he was killed. His implication throughout the press conference, as he then pivoted to identifying Darren Wilson, was that Wilson was aware that Brown committed what Jackson was calling "a strong-armed robbery" and that the shooting was related to the "robbery." Later that day, after the damage was already done, Jackson held a small press conference to clarify that Wilson was unaware of the convenience store incident when he confronted Brown. Later, changing his story for the third time, Jackson said Wilson "may" have known about the incident after all, but that he wasn't sure.
When asked why he released the video footage from the convenience store at the exact moment he planned to release the identity of Wilson, Jackson claimed that the department was "forced" to do so after repeated Freedom of Information Act requests were made for that specific information. When asked to produce documents proving the requests were made, he said they were made verbally and that the department didn't document them.
Not one media outlet to date has reported pressing a request for access to this footage.
—The St. Louis County medical examiner decided not to release its autopsy report on Brown to the public, but did choose to leak that traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, were found in his system. Not only can traces of THC remain in the body for over 40 days, but marijuana is usually recognized as a calming agent and not something that makes someone more aggressive. In spite of the reality that its presence in Brown's body could be completely irrelevant, this basic fact was released anyway.
- Christine Byers of the St. Louis Dispatch claims a police source told her that twelve eyewitnesses have backed up Darren Wilson's story of being attacked. It's her most shared tweet ever. Conservative media across the country, including Rush Limbaugh, take her tweet as the truth and run with it. Her tweet on this is still live today.
—At the height of unrest in Ferguson, Fox News released a grossly misleading story from an anonymous source, with the headline, "Missouri cop was badly beaten before shooting Michael Brown." Shared over 40,000 times on social media, the story became gospel for those who believed Brown deserved to die. Further misleading its audience, Fox News couched the outrageous headline with a video of Chief Jackson, as if he made the announcement. All photos and videos and eyewitnesses from the immediate aftermath of the shooting discredit this claim. Fox News, uncharacteristically, disabled all comments on the article.
—Police were reported being seen taking down license plate numbers during a meeting of activists and concerned citizens at a local church.
—Shocking the protestors, Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson agreed to join a march for justice. Within seconds of the march beginning, police officers began violently shoving their way through the march, and a full-on melee ensued. Police and the local media began characterizing the chaos as "Chief Jackson gets assaulted during march," but the chief was never touched and the chaos was created by the officers. After publishing a report stating that people were arrested for "trying to fight the chief," local news station KMOV deleted the report. The entire incident was so peculiar that many protestors, irate over the characterization, believed it was all a staged setup.
—Police performed a mass arrest during a very tense night of protests. One protestor who was being arrested could be overheard by another protestor telling the police that they accidentally arrested the wrong man. The crowd of protestors erupted in frustration. Police escorted the man away. He had been seen by other protestors joining the crowd for days, and after the incident, no reports were made of seeing him again.
—Ferguson activist Alexis Templeton was erroneously charged with the more serious count of resisting arrest (instead of a noise violation) although she can be clearly seen in this video, at 0:50, in a black T-shirt, with her hands up.
—Jailed for a simple noise ordinance violation, 13 Ferguson protestors were forced to wear humiliating orange jumpsuits before they were released.
—Multiple unrelated activists reported receiving phone calls in which people hung up on the other end. Here's one example.
—St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson tweeted that protestors were throwing rocks and were arrested for illegal activity. The Blaze then reported that 17 protestors were arrested for throwing rocks. After videos from six live-streamers showed no rocks being thrown, Dotson, the next day, admitted that police only found one rock that was thrown, and that one landed 15 feet away from police. By the time the new information came out, the damage was already done. Not one of the 17 protestors was charged for throwing rocks.
—Leaving a protest at the Hollywood Casino, protestors reported noticing police officers writing down license plate numbers.
—Ferguson activist and livestream videographer Bassem Masri was arrested during a peaceful protest at a St. Louis area Walmart. Held in jail longer than any other protestor, Masri, a Palestinian American, reported that he was threatened by detectives with exaggerated charges if he didn't identify and discuss inside information about fellow protestors.
—Peaceful members of the clergy, including Dr. Cornel West, were arrested during a protest. Dr. West was charged with assault.
—St. Louis activist Leigh Maibes released a recording of a telephone call confronting a police officer who admits he had called her employer to report her protesting activities.