Tags: George Floyd Protests | Law Enforcement | doj | facebook | riots | aclu | social media

DOJ Helping Police Use Facebook to Catch Rioters

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(Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 12 June 2020 10:20 AM

With assistance from the Department of Justice, police across the country are turning to Facebook as they search for individuals linked to looting and rioting amid the George Floyd protests.

Politico cited court documents that explained how law enforcement at the local level is working with the DOJ to find people on the social media network who are suspected of either committing or planning crimes related to the protests.

In one case, police received a tip about someone in Page, Arizona, wanting to riot at a country courthouse. An undercover officer was able to join a private Facebook group the man set up, and, after chatting with him online, the man said he wanted to "burn down the courthouse."

"Arson, Assault, Conspiracy, here we come," the man wrote.

He was eventually arrested before he was able to carry out his threats.

In several other cases, the DOJ has used social media posts as evidence against people who have been arrested and charged with protest-related crimes. According to the report, people often post about causing damage and destruction afterward.

"It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it," Attorney General William Barr said, Politico noted.

"The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens."

Cooperation between the DOJ and local police has resulted in more than 60 people being charged with crimes. Protests erupted in the days following Floyd's May 25 death, which occurred after a police officer held a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes.

An official at the American Civil Liberties Union told Politico the practice of using social media posts as evidence against people is a violation of the First Amendment.

"As a general matter, I think social media surveillance by the government raises serious concerns about free speech and privacy, and also racial and religious profiling," ACLU staff attorney Vera Eidelman said.

The report comes on the heels of revelations that the federal government used manned and unmanned aircraft to keep tabs on protesters in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Las Vegas.

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With assistance from the Department of Justice, police across the country are turning to Facebook as they search for individuals linked to looting and rioting amid the George Floyd protests. Politico cited court documents that explained how law enforcement at the local level...
doj, facebook, riots, aclu, social media, first amendment
360
2020-20-12
Friday, 12 June 2020 10:20 AM
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