Like something out of a 1930’s European fascist state, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security compiled dossiers on thousands of anti-racism protesters in an effort to tie them to a fictitious domestic terrorist organization the Department created out of thin air to support a claim made by then-President Donald Trump, Gizmodo reports.
During the summer of 2020, as the nation was swept with demonstrations against racism and police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, DHS Secretary Chad Wolf directed hundreds of millions of dollars to track hundreds of people participating in the largely-peaceful protests that happened in cities around the nation.
Solely to give Trump political fodder to spew about an organized left-wing group planning the protests, DHS personnel assembled dossiers on anti-racist protestors primarily in the Portland, Oregon area–where white nationalists had been staging demonstrations, marches and attacks for months–to falsely give the impression that a wide-ranging, national liberal group was organizing the protests, which were organic, grassroots efforts. According to an internal report, DHS compiled background information on the individuals such as their past movements and associations, as well as lists of known associates and family members. Many of the people had been arrested on federal charges during Portland protests.
DHS labeled the created association a group of “anarchist extremists,” which Trump then bloviated about at various rallies leading up to the 2020 election. DHS attempted to characterize the non-existent group as a “domestic terror” threat, likely a response from aggrieved conservatives to early intelligence community reports stating right-wing terrorism was an increasing threat to domestic safety.
A label created by a workgroup within the Department “Violent Antifa Anarchists Inspired” (VAAI), was created to describe the affiliation of individuals even though analysts and investigators could find no connection between various groups. This term was then used in briefings to describe the anti-racism and anti-police violence protests as one homogenous, coordinated group in reports and analysis, even though analysts admitted to inspectors they didn’t know why some of the targets had been arrested.
Witnesses said Wolf and his acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, directed the creation of dossiers on people arrested during protests, as well as people arrested who where not charged with crimes and “against everyone participating in the Portland protest.” A whistleblower reportedly told Wolf and Cuccinelli such intelligence gathering would be illegal under the Constitution before advising supervisors of the request.