Private security groups regularly sent disinformation to Minnesota police about protesters

“I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was so deeply incongruous,” she says. “Honestly, I felt quite humiliated by it, because there were all these people trying to speak and they were drowned out.” Says Ruddock: “It was so grotesque and obviously designed to let me know I was being watched.” CRG identified her, found a recording of her music, and “brought my music through my neighborhood.”

“I felt like I was going to have a panic attack,” she says. Ruddock tried to explain the situation to other activists – many of whom didn’t know she was a musician, much less that it was her song – and quickly left the protest. She doesn’t know why she was singled out, but she suspects it’s because she was often around Seven Points, camera in hand, photographing the disturbances in her neighborhood.

CRG also played tapes of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech to quell chants at the protests, according to three activists we spoke to. According to Rick Hodsdon, president of the Minnesota Board of Private Investigators and Protective Agent Services, no formal complaint has been filed against CRG. A complaint would trigger an agency investigation and could lead to the revocation of security clearances and, potentially, criminal charges.

View “intel reports”

What Ruddock could not have known was that the CRG also operated as an undercover intelligence team for the Minneapolis Police Department. According to emails obtained by MIT Technology Review, CRG monitored activists in Uptown and frequently sent reports to the department. One such 17-page report, titled “Initial Threat Assessment,” describes the organizers as part of “antifa,” a term often used in far-right discourse to exaggerate the threat posed by radical left-wing political groups. Ruddock has been identified as one of the antifa leaders, a claim she calls “ridiculous” and says she has “never been associated with antifa or any extremist group”.

Email from CRG to MPD dated August 2021

(MIT Technology Review does not publish the reports we reviewed because of the risk of spreading false and potentially defamatory information.)

Some of the reports include information from the internet and social media, as well as photos of Ruddock and other activists. In one exchange between Seven Points and MPD, Seven Points referred to CRG’s “surveillance cameras. Some information was taken from the AntifaWatch website, including photos of Ruddock and other activists from a mass arrest during a protest on June 5, 2021, two days after Smith’s death. Charges against Ruddock in 2021 were dismissed due to “insufficient evidence,” and a lawsuit is pending against the city surrounding the arrest.

AntifaWatch says it “exists to document and monitor Antifa and the far left.” The site publishes photos of nearly 7,000 people allegedly involved in antifa or antifa-related activities, along with other information about them. His information comes from news reports, social media posts and submissions that anyone can make. The website states that “in order for a report to be approved, it must have a reasonable level of evidence (news article, arrest photo, riot photo, self-identification, etc.).” MIT Technology Review tried to verify several entries on the site and found is inaccuracy. For example, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter was included in the arrest list at the Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020 in New York City. AntifaWatch characterized Chiara de Blasio as an “antifa riot,” although the police report does not indicate that de Blasio participated in the rioting.

The website states that “​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​a identify and reveal personal information about people Its posts often contain bigoted language It also has facial recognition: anyone can upload a picture, and the website will return potential matches from its AntifaWatch database.

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