Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC/DDF April 2016 Newsletter

McCarthy and Hoover Awards: Cast Your Vote Now!
April 1, 2016
The Uncensored FBI Letter to MLK Found Hidden in the National Archives
On the Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Surveillance of Political Dissent Continues
April 4, 2016

Forty-eight years ago today, when he was just 39, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. I wonder what more he could have accomplished had he not been killed. And I also can’t help but think how much more the civil rights movement would have accomplished if not for the concerted effort the FBI made to undercut and neutralize the movement.

The FBI’s harassment of King was the rule, not the exception. They tracked other civil rights readers, including Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer and Frank Wilkinson.

And the spying continues. Black Lives Matter, Occupy, School of the Americas Watch, and Keystone Pipeline opponents have all been targeted in the last several years. Earlier this month we launched a campaign to force Congress to investigate FBI and DHS political spying. The first salvo was a letter, signed by nearly 70 organizations, and an online petition. We’re meeting with members of Congress, and continually building the coalition of organizations willing to stand with us to demand accountability and an end to the spying.

Enjoy our April newsletter

Grassroots Updates

BORDC/DDF supports grassroots activism to protect and advance Constitutional rights. Join the movement! Please reach us at Here are some organizing highlights from around the country:

April 2016 Patriot Award Goes to Alison Glick of Freedom2Boycott
We are delighted to present the April 2016 Patriot Award to Alison Glick of Freedom2Boycott, who led a successful effort to block a bill that would restrict the constitutionally-protected right to boycott in Maryland. Watch our video interview with Alison.

Los Angeles Activists Turn Out for Hearing on Suspicious Activity Reporting and Gang Injunctions
On Saturday March 19th the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission hosted a public hearing on Gang Injunctions and the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Program, marking the first time a government body questioned the impact of Suspicious Activity Reporting program on the community.

61 Groups Defend Right to Boycott in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition hand delivered an open letter yesterday to each member of the state’s House of Representatives.

Stop Racial and Religious Profiling in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’s Health and Human Services agency has announced it will collaborate with federal prosecutors to deploy so-called “countering violent extremism” programs. Please sign the petition to ask EOHHS to decline participation in this failed program that would encourage racial and religious profiling.

GOP Convention in Cleveland: Put Your Riot Gear On
In preparation for the RNC, Cleveland PD has put together quite the shopping list, including including 2,000 sets of riot gear, 310 sets of riot control gear, and 25 sets of tactical ballistics armor. Our concern looks past the convention itself: we know that cities that beef up security for a convention stay beefed up after all the politicians and delegates have gone back home.

Advocacy and Agitation

BORDC/DDF is your voice in the Nation’s Capitol. We advocate and agitate in Congress and with the Executive branch. Here are just a few of the issues we raised last month:

Congress Must Tell the FBI and DHS: Activism is Not Terrorism
What do Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, School of the Americas Watch and anti-Keystone XL activists have in common? They’ve all been spied on, monitored, tracked, or infiltrated by the FBI and/or DHS. We’re leading over 60 civil society organizations calling for Congress to investigate FBI and DHS surveillance of First Amendment-protected political organizing. Add your voice by signing the petition.

Still Seeking Police Transparency: A Letter to the Office of Justice Programs
While the Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence (PRIDE) Act sits in Committee, we’re calling on the DOJ to only give federal criminal justice grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that conduct complete data collection and reporting on police-civilian encounters, and follow through on previous commitments by issuing regulations on the implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA).

We Stand with Workers in Grand Rapids, Because We Stand for Free Speech
In response to some really clear violations of the First Amendment rights, we issued a statement of solidarity with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 workers in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Recap: What We’ve Learned About Surveillance of Black Lives Matter
Reminiscent of COINTELPRO days, the FBI and DHS have found new justifications to undermine the rights of Americans. While in the past it might have been hunting “subversives,” today it is “counterterrorism” or “situational awareness.” Yet, the effect is the same.

News and Analysis

Predictive Policing: Gazing into Law Enforcement’s Crystal Ball
Read Suraj Sazawal’s disturbing report on latest trends in predictive policing: “The ability to anticipate or predict crime represents a disturbing paradigm shift in law enforcement. Not only do the computer models infringe on civil liberties with little accountability, especially when the companies that create them keep their methods secret, but it also perpetuates racial profiling.”

Documents Reveal ATF and US Marshals Also Monitoring Occupy Movement
While it’s surprising that ATF field officers and U.S. Marshals have spent time compiling and disseminating intelligence on Occupy Wall Street, Legal Fellow Chip Gibbons argues this is indicative a larger trend in federal law enforcement: that political protests and social movements, even those acknowledged to be nonviolent, are viewed as having an inherent potential to turn into criminal acts.

How the FBI Polices Dissent and Why It Matters in the Encryption Debate
With the FBI attempting to gain access to the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, and in the process create a backdoor into encrypted devices across the world – many in the media have framed the issue as being one of privacy versus security. While there is undoubtedly a compelling privacy issue at stake, many advocates have also pointed to another fundamental right at stake – the right of free expression.

Senate Passes FOIA Bill During Sunshine Week, Bringing Reform One Step Closer
During ‪#‎SunshineWeek‬ the Senate brought us one step closer to reform of the Freedom of Information Act. This movement coincided with recent revelations of the Obama Administration’s resistance to FOIA reform from a lawsuit filed by Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Circuit Court Weighs Appeals in “Communication Management Units” Prison Case
In March the DC Circuit Court heard a case challenging the use of “Communications Management Units” in federal prisons. CMUs have been described as “Guantanamo North” and severely restrict the communications of the individuals held in them. Read more about the case and its implications.

The Very Existence of the NSA Is Illegal
It was reported recently that the NSA will soon begin providing local law enforcement with data on American citizens intercepted without probable cause and without a warrant. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou explains why this is a cause for concern.

FBI Backs Down in Apple Court Case, Requests Delay to Explore “New Unlocking Method”
The Department of Justice read the writing on the wall: their lawsuit against Apple was an epic fail. Their cynical attempt to use the San Bernardino shooting to set a precedent to weaken encryption and allow the FBI to get into any device backfired.

McCain’s Surprising Tribute to Abraham Lincoln Brigade Forgets History of FBI Harassment
While it was surprising to see John McCain’s “Saluting A Communist” in the New York Times, it wasn’t surprising to see that FBI harassment of volunteers in the fight against fascism was ignored.