Private security groups regularly sent police in Minnesota disinformation about the protesters

“I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was so deeply inappropriate,” she says. “Honestly, I felt quite humiliated by it because there were all these people trying to talk and being silenced.” Ruddock says: “It was so grotesque and obviously meant to make me realize I was being watched.” CRG her identified, found a video of her music and “blasted my music in 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 chosen, but suspects it was because she often visited the area around Seven Points with camera in hand, photographing the disturbances in her neighborhood.

According to three activists we spoke with, the CRG also released tapes of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches to silence protest chants. According to Rick Hodsden, president of the Minnesota Council of Private Investigators and Protective Agent Services, no formal complaints have been filed against CRG. A complaint would trigger an investigation by the agency and could lead to the revocation of security licenses and possibly criminal charges.

A Look at “Intel Reports”

What Ruddock could not have known was that the CRG was also acting 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,” described 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 groups.”

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 included information obtained 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 of the information was pulled from the website AntifaWatch, including photos of Ruddock and other activists from a mass arrest during a protest on June 5, 2021, two days after Smith’s death. The 2021 charges against Ruddock were dropped due to “insufficient evidence” and there is a pending lawsuit against the city over the arrest.

AntifaWatch says it “exists to document and track Antifa and the far left.” The site has published photos of nearly 7,000 people allegedly involved in antifa or antifa-related activities, along with other information about them. Information is gleaned from news reports, social media posts, and statements that anyone can make. The website states that “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 attempted to verify several of the site’s entries and found inaccuracies. For example, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter was listed for arrest during a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020 in New York City. AntifaWatch characterized Ciara de Blasio as “antifa rioting,” although the police report did not indicate that de Blasio was involved in the rioting.

The website states that “​an AntifaWatch report in no way constitutes or forms an indictment of anyone’s involvement in Antifa, terrorism, or terrorist groups” and says it is “not a doxing website,” although it expressly attempts to identify and disclose personal information about people. His posts often contain bigoted language. It also features facial recognition: anyone can upload an image and the website will return potential matches from its AntifaWatch database.

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