Cleveland, Ohio (TFC)— Isn’t it wonderful when police knock on your door asking what your activism plans for the Republican National Convention are? That’s exactly what’s happening in Cleveland, where officers are going door-to-door probing activists and organizers. Such revelations beg questions on the use of police for surveillance of legal political activities especially in 2016’s election.
With Cleveland Ohio expecting an estimated 50,000 visitors for the Republican National Convention (RNC), preparations surely are needed. Many community organizers, however, shuttered after sleeping bags and soapboxes were banned at 2016’s RNC. Interestingly, Intercept reports, officials didn’t ban firearms, despite a recent attempt on Donald Trump’s life. Trump rallies, in particular, are known for their volatile nature, and acts of exclusion and violence are regular. RNC’s bans don’t account for these elements of the convention’s population.
Now, local and federal law enforcement are going door to door in what some have called political intimidation. “The purpose of these door knocks is simple”, says Jocelyn Rosnick, coordinator with Ohio’s National Lawyers Guild, “to intimidate the target.” Over a dozen people have reported the visitations, Intercept reports, from FBI, local, Homeland Security, and Secret Service operatives.
Attorney Michael Nelson claims the parents of a client arrested during a police protest were also visited. Law enforcement reputedly asked for “any information” they or their activist daughter may have on violence planned for RNC.
According to Intercept, Nelson and others are requesting a meeting with law enforcement officials regarding to knocks. “Last time we heard of anything like this was when Dr. King and J. Edgar Hoover were around”, says Nelson. “Maybe we need to have a discussion about the Constitution.” It’s important to note that these revelations came days before an atrocious attack on officers at a recent peaceful march. Law enforcement were already combing homes for activist intel in efforts, as far as we can tell, unrelated to the Dallas attack.
Some were particularly “rattled” by police visits, like members of Food Not Bombs. Maggie Rice, the group’s organizer, claimed her members wouldn’t even speak to reporters. Although Food Not Bombs isn’t planning protests, they’ve applied for permits to feed rally goers on RNC grounds. Rice called the FBI visitations “completely unacceptable and very disturbing.”
FBI officials claimed it worked with “members of the community” during knocks, to ensure a “safe and secure” convention. When Intercept reached out to Cleveland PD officials, however, they refused to comment. All that’s interesting, given the expected presence of well known FBI informants at Ohio’s RNC.
Brandon Darby gained widespread condemnation after entrapping two young activists in a plot Darby manufactured. Darby was then working as an FBI informant for plots against 2008’s RNC in Texas. Darby posed as an activist, often imposing his more militant ideologies on younger, impressionable activists. Darby called on people via Twitter to provide him with information on violence at 2016’s RNC, if they fear going to FBI.
Darby will allegedly be in attendance this year with activist Cassandra Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Medium.com reports, has long frequented left-wing protests involving police reform, rape culture, and Occupy. Similar to Darby, Fairbanks built herself up through leftist anarchist movements before renouncing them altogether. She was also allegedly an avid Bernie supporter before transitioning to Trump. Fairbanks also called Brandon Darby a “journalist/good person.” This point is debatable.
Darby’s story has become a textbook tale of the FBI manufacturing the very crimes it ends up solving. Because of his actions, two men were imprisoned for a plan they’d been allegedly coerced into by Darby. In light of these updates, perhaps it’s best to take whatever happens at RNC with a grain of salt.