Secret FBI Program Now Jailing Activists for Speaking Out Against Police Brutality on Facebook

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Dallas, TX – When militarized FBI agents clad in tactical gear raided the home of Rakem Balogun in December 2017—forcing him and his 15-year-old son outside in their underwear on the cold and windy night as agents ransacked his residence—he thought it had to be a mistake.

In an exclusive report by The Guardian, Balogun explains that he was stunned to later learn that he was under investigation for “domestic terrorism” and had been under law enforcement surveillance for years. Incredibly, Balogun’s arrest and the FBI raid on his home were partially due to a simple, and constitutionally protected, Facebook post that was critical of police.

It’s tyranny at its finest,” Balogun, 34, told the Guardian. “I have not been doing anything illegal for them to have surveillance on me. I have not hurt anyone or threatened anyone.”

Balogun was imprisoned for five months and denied bail while US attorneys attempted to frivolously prosecute him on accusations of being an illegal gun owner and a threat to law enforcement—only later to be exonerated on both trumped up allegations.

Foreign Policy reported that the entire case has ominous implications and overtones of 60s/70s style COINTELPRO, as Balogun is believed to be the first person prosecuted, and known to have been targeted, under a secretive US surveillance effort to identify and track suspected “black identity extremists”—a broad and nebulous term that civil rights advocates warn can be used to target and chill constitutionally protected political activism.

According to the exclusive report from The Guardian:

In a leaked August 2017 report from the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, officials claimed that there had been a “resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity” stemming from African Americans’ “perceptions of police brutality”.

The counter-terrorism assessment provided minimal data or evidence of threats against police, but discussed a few isolated incidents, notably the case of Micah Johnson who killed five officers in Texas. The report sparked backlash from civil rights groups and some Democrats, who feared the government would use the broad designation to prosecute activists and groups like Black Lives Matter.

Not so coincidentally, Balogun is a long-time political activist as the co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and Guerilla Mainframe; both groups advocate for the rights of black gun owners and fight against police brutality.

It was revealed when special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court that the FBI began surveillance of Balogun after he participated in a rally against police violence in Austin, Texas in March 2015. The FBI first became aware of the protest from a video posted by Infowars, Keighley said.

Balogun said he was stunned to learn that information from InfoWars was used as the basis for their investigation: “They’re using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.

Ironically, no mention of any specific actions by Balogun was ever brought up by Keighley, who instead testified about protesters’ anti-police statements, such as “oink oink, bang bang” and “the only good pig is a pig that’s dead.”

The Guardian reports that despite making no mention of Balogun’s actions at the rally in court, Keighley did discuss Facebook posts by Balogun in which he called a suspect in the killing of a police officer a “hero” and expressed “solidarity” for the man accused of killing police when he wrote, “They deserve what they got.

Keighley was later forced to admit that despite his fear-mongering about Balogun’s free expression of thought on social media, the FBI did not have evidence of any specific threats about harming police.

Balogun told the Guardian that at the time he made those Facebook posts he was “venting” about the anger he felt surrounding the numerous unjustified killings of unarmed black men and women. He said that out of being disgusted with media largely portraying these killings as justified, he wrote those posts to “mimic their reactions to our killings.”

In a jailhouse letter to the Guardian, Balogun wrote that he was a “prisoner of war on free speech and the right to bear arms” who had been “abducted” by the FBI. He noted that he was not targeted for being a violent threat, but for promoting black community groups and battling “government abuse,” adding, “Violence is the method of our oppressor, our method is hard work, love, and unity.”

While the prosecution’s case against Balogun completely unraveled, it is an ominous indicator of a renewed and brutal assault against political activism by government forces.

“They were really desperate,” Balogun said. When his home was raided, police confiscated his .38-caliber handgun, an unloaded AK-style assault rifle and his book, “Negroes with Guns” by the civil rights leader Robert F. Williams, according to The Guardian.

“This is pretty much like Stalin 1950 – ‘You show me the man. I show you the crime.’”

The entire idea of a “black identity extremism” (BIE) movement—a term coined by law enforcement—is unsupported by the government’s own data. But that has never stopped the government from persecuting political activists; especially ones espousing black empowerment ideology.

The failed prosecution and clear persecution of Balogun have drawn clear parallels to previous efforts by the U.S. government to discredit, disrupt and monitor political activists during the civil rights-era, particularly the FBI counterintelligence program called COINTELPRO, which targeted Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, the NAACP and the Black Panther party.

Michael German, a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program and former FBI agent, said the BIE assessment was “extraordinarily overbroad,” but that the idea was being spread to state and local law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

The targeting of activists through police harassment and surveillance for espousing a disfavored ideological stance is immoral to the core and morbidly insidious. The Guardian reports that while authorities have not said publicly that Balogun has been labeled a BIE, “their language in court resembled the warnings in the FBI’s file.”

German revealed that the federal government utilized a disruption strategy,” which is a tactic where the FBI attempts to target lower-level arrests and charges as a means of causing a disruption in their targets’ lives while the agency attempts to build a case.

“Sometimes when you couldn’t prove somebody was a terrorist, it’s because they weren’t a terrorist,” German said, adding that prosecutors’ claims that Balogun was too dangerous to be released on bail were “astonishing.”

“It seems this effort was designed to punish him for his political activity rather than actually solve any sort of security issue,” he said.

This is exactly what was done to Balogun as he has lost his vehicle, job, and home. His son was also forced to move and transfer schools and Balogun missed much of the first year of his newborn daughter’s life.

This man’s life is in shambles due to being targeted for his political activism. When the state persecutes you for attempting to empower others, you are dangerously close to tyranny.

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Source Article from https://thefreethoughtproject.com/secret-fbi-program-jailing-activists-speaking-out-against-police-brutality-facebook/

Trump Attacks Justice Department As 'Deep State,' Calls For Jailing Top Clinton Aide

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his attack on his “deep state” Justice Department, and said a top aide to 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton should be jailed.

Trump, returning to Washington after spending the holidays at his Florida resort, posted an early-morning tweet lashing out at former Clinton aide Huma Abedin, apparently in response to Abedin emails released by the State Department on Friday

The emails, disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch, were uncovered during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Politico, part of the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. Abedin reportedly forwarded State Department emails, including some that contained passwords, to a personal account. Trump and his right-wing allies continue to raise the issue.

Trump also said in his tweet that the Justice Department must act on “Comey and others,” a reference to former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election until Trump fired him in May.  

Trump, in tweets and interviews, has repeatedly sought to undermine his Justice Department and FBI as the Russia probe has intensified. He has criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions numerous times for recusing himself from supervising the Russia investigation, and claims to have the right to direct government investigations himself. 

Last week, Trump asserted in a New York Times interview that he had the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Source Article from https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-attacks-justice-department-apos-145350932.html

“I Put 311 People In Jail For Marijuana And I Was Wrong”: Judge Admits Jailing People For Pot “Haunts” Him After Cannabis Saved His Life

Prior to this year, the state of Florida was regarded as one of the worst possible states to be caught in possession of cannabis. According to a 2009 analysis by former NORML Director, Jon Gettman, no state in this country punished people more severely for minor marijuana offenses than Florida. However, thanks in part to a former Florida judge, all this is gradually changing.

By October 3, for the first time in its history, the state will issue IDs to medical marijuana patients. However, according to the former judge, the law doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Throughout the course of his career as a Florida judge, Doug Bench hated marijuana. He admits to locking up hundreds of people for this plant and did so because he thought it was the right thing to do. While it is too late for the now-retired judge to help those whose lives he likely ruined through the persecution of pot, he is taking actions to help countless others now and in the future.

When Bench was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, which can result in a slow and painful death, his life was saved after realizing the benefits of cannabis in treating his disease. Now, Bench has made it his life’s work to wake people up to the “70 years of lies” the US government has told the citizens about marijuana.

In a public forum on Florida’s Medical Marijuana Implementation earlier this year, Bench presented a powerful speech to note how the law simply does not go far enough to help those who need access to cannabis.

“I put 311 people in jail for marijuana offenses — and I was wrong,” the judge says as he opens up his speech.

I’ve been haunted for 30 years, wondering how many of those (people I put in jail) were using cannabis for medical reasons because our government suppressed that information for 70 years.

Bench then notes that it was his COPD that opened his eyes to the benefits of cannabis.

“I’m now an advocate for medical marijuana because two years ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease,” he explains, before going on to explain that his wife’s “four hours of research on the internet,” found the benefits of cannabis oil for COPD.

“I hated marijuana, I hated the use of marijuana and the violation of the law,” Bench explains. “But, I had no choice, I had to break the law if I wanted to live.”

Bench, like so many other people who the Free Thought Project has interviewed and reported on, was forced to become a criminal to save his own life — in the land of the free.

At this point, Bench then advocates to let free enterprise handle the solution to medical marijuana instead of the slow turning wheels of the bureaucracy. Instead of a top-down system of the state running everything in regards to a plant that heals people, Bench advocates for a horizontal integration, allowing ease of access at all levels, not just those well-connected lobbyists with state ties.

“By the time you finally go (to the doctor to get medical cannabis), you need it now, not 90 days from now,” Bench said before calling out the restrictive nature of the Florida law.

“I think you should take the word ‘debilitating’ totally out of it,” said Bench. “What I had, COPD, a terminal disease, is not on your list.”

The heroism and humility shown by Doug Bench are inspiring, to say the least. If a tiny fraction of the people within law enforcement and government had half of this man’s gumption, the drug war would be over tomorrow and people who can benefit from cannabis would have access immediately.

The Free Thought Project salutes you, Judge Doug Bench. Please share this article to show others how change is possible and even the most staunch drug warriors, who “hate marijuana,” have the ability to change.

Source:ActivistPost

Source Article from https://worldtruth.tv/i-put-311-people-in-jail-for-marijuana-and-i-was-wrong-judge-admits-jailing-people-for-pot-haunts-him-after-cannabis-saved-his-life/

‘I Was Wrong’: Judge Admits Jailing People for Pot ‘Haunts’ Him After Cannabis Saved His Life

cannabiscannabis

Prior to this year, the state of Florida was regarded as one of the worst possible states to be caught in possession of cannabis. According to a 2009 analysis by former NORML Director Jon Gettman, no state in this country punished people more severely for minor marijuana offenses than Florida. However, thanks in part to a former Florida judge, all this is gradually changing.

By October 3, for the first time in its history, the state will issue IDs to medical marijuana patients. However, according to the former judge, the law doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Throughout the course of his career as a Florida judge, Doug Bench hated marijuana. He admits to locking up hundreds of people for this plant and did so because he thought it was the right thing to do. While it is too late for the now-retired judge to help those whose lives he likely ruined through the persecution of pot, he is taking actions to help countless others now and in the future.

When Bench was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, which can result in a slow and painful death, his life was saved after realizing the benefits of cannabis in treating his disease. Now, Bench has made it his life’s work to wake people up to the “70 years of lies” the US government has told the citizens about marijuana.

In a public forum on Florida’s Medical Marijuana Implementation earlier this year, Bench presented a powerful speech to note how the law simply does not go far enough to help those who need access to cannabis.

“I put 311 people in jail for marijuana offenses — and I was wrong,” the judge says as he opens up his speech.

“I’ve been haunted for 30 years, wondering how many of those (people I put in jail) were using cannabis for medical reasons because our government suppressed that information for 70 years.”

Bench then notes that it was his COPD that opened his eyes to the benefits of cannabis.

“I’m now an advocate for medical marijuana because two years ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease,” he explains, before going on to explain that his wife’s “four hours of research on the internet,” found the benefits of cannabis oil for COPD.

“I hated marijuana, I hated the use of marijuana and the violation of the law,” Bench explains. “But, I had no choice, I had to break the law if I wanted to live.”

Bench, like so many other people who the Free Thought Project has interviewed and reported on, was forced to become a criminal to save his own life — in the land of the free.

At this point, Bench then advocates to let free enterprise handle the solution to medical marijuana instead of the slow turning wheels of the bureaucracy. Instead of a top-down system of the state running everything in regards to a plant that heals people, Bench advocates for a horizontal integration, allowing ease of access at all levels, not just those well-connected lobbyists with state ties.

“By the time you finally go (to the doctor to get medical cannabis), you need it now, not 90 days from now,” Bench said before calling out the restrictive nature of the Florida law.

“I think you should take the word ‘debilitating’ totally out of it,” said Bench. “What I had, COPD, a terminal disease, is not on your list.”

“I’d be dead if I had to treat under this mandate of Florida law.”

The heroism and humility shown by Doug Bench are inspiring, to say the least. If a tiny fraction of the people within law enforcement and government had half of this man’s gumption, the drug war would be over tomorrow and people who can benefit from cannabis would have access immediately.

The Free Thought Project salutes you, Judge Doug Bench. Please share this article to show others how change is possible and even the most staunch drug warriors, who “hate marijuana,” have the ability to change.

Please share this article to show others how change is possible and even the most staunch drug warriors, who “hate marijuana,” have the ability to change.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/judge-haunted-cannabis-saved-life/