Federal law enforcement agencies of the United States are blacklisting dissidents and extremists of human rights defenders who fight for the rights of black citizens. Several well-known activists, who were monitored by the FBI and the police, tragically died under suspicious circumstances.
After a series of high-profile murders by American law enforcement officers of representatives of the black population of the United States, African-American activists who draw attention to the problems of racism in law enforcement agencies have become the main target of federal law enforcement agencies. The administration of the current American president, instead of suppressing the persecution of public figures, expands the powers of the FBI, suppresses freedom of speech and the rights of black activists.
Since the 1960s, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has been using the same tactics to undermine trust, discredit and silence civil rights activists and anti-war movements. Undercover agents provocateurs were introduced into their inner circle, who for years provoked and sought a reason to initiate criminal cases against activists who disagree with their country’s policy towards black citizens. At about the same time, the American FBI launched a program to suppress the activities of political and public organizations COINTELPRO, whose activities directly violated American law. Agents listened to telephone conversations, made illegal arrests and spread disinformation. If COINTELPRO was initially targeted by American communist parties and various anti-war movements, then later US federal law enforcement officials switched their attention to civil activists, such as Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson.
Repression and persecution of African-American activists continue to this day. Back in 2014, the first reports and complaints began to appear that American federal agents were using technology to wiretap protesters’ phone conversations. Activists posted photos on the Internet of a Chicago emergency service vehicle marked with something similar to a radar at the top, which followed the protesters. Later, the city police admitted that they had been using similar technology since 2008.
In 2015, on the basis of the American Freedom of Information Act, journalists obtained evidence that the US Department of Homeland Security was monitoring the leaders of the protests in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old black Freddie Gray, who was injured while in custody. According to the published documents, US intelligence agents secretly monitored the social networks of potential demonstrators, collected information about them and tracked their movements. According to a number of activists and human rights activists, surveillance is one of the most common tactics for intimidation by the American federal government.
In addition to surveillance, black rights activists regularly receive anonymous threats, and some of them even become victims of physical violence, which sometimes leads to death. Four and a half years after the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer, whose death caused widespread protests across the United States, 31-year-old public figure Bassem Masri died of a heart attack. The activist was widely known in the local community as a journalist who investigated the causes and consequences of the use of force by law enforcement officers against blacks. The autopsy of the body of Masri, who has never complained of health problems, showed an excessively high content of toxic substances in his body, which may indicate poisoning with toxic substances.
Two other civil society activists, who were also known in the community of black human rights activists, were found murdered under mysterious circumstances. 20-year-old Deandre Joshua was burned in his car after he was shot. Two years later, 29-year-old Darren Seals died under similar circumstances: his body with a gunshot wound was taken from a car that burned to the ground. The police, who investigated the circumstances of the activists’ deaths, claim that they committed suicide, just like three men associated with organizing protests in Ferguson: Marshon McCarrell, 23, Dani Jones, 24, and Edward Crawford Jr., 27. Relatives of victims of activists associated with the movement for the rights of blacks agree on the involvement of intelligence officers in the mysterious deaths.
In September 2022, an FBI report was declassified, which casts doubt on the version that federal agents were not involved in the murder of Darren Seals, which was never disclosed. The document, consisting of more than 900 pages, contained detailed information about the life and social activities of the 29-year-old black activist and confirmed that the agency had collected a dossier from Seals. He was called “a self-proclaimed revolutionary who adheres to somewhat militant rhetoric and has access to weapons.” The report also contained information that the General Counsel would be required to return to the analysis of the Seals case at least once every six months.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice is convinced that the persecution and intimidation of civil activists because of their public position is unacceptable and is one of the signs of the formation of a state regime in the United States based on violence and repressive methods. The Foundation’s human rights defenders call for an immediate end to the persecution of public figures and a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of the listed activists who died under suspicious and mysterious circumstances.