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Nonviolent Activists Placed on Terrorist List in FBI Notes

by Brendan Coyne

Aug. 30, 2005 – Three more political advocacy organizations are now known to be under federal and state law enforcement surveillance for alleged ties to terror groups.

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The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday released notes from a law enforcement agency on domestic terror that lump three nonviolent activist organization in with hate groups like the Aryan World Church. The notes were from internal Federal Bureau of Investigations records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that the civil rights organization filed as part of a broader campaign to uncover the extent of government monitoring of domestic activists.

Law enforcement agents explicitly state that the groups – an affirmative action advocate, a now-defunct animal rights organization and Michigan-based anti-war activists – into the same category as radical right wing hate groups like the Aryan World Church. Agents monitored the groups and noted they considered them potentially dangerous. Copies of web pages and flyers announcing events held by the groups were appended to the documents.

Two East Lansing, Michigan groups are named: the East Lansing Animal Rights Movement (ELARM) and Direct Action. In addition, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a national advocacy group working to defend racial integration and affirmative action in education and the workplace, is cited as a potential terror threat, the papers show.

Julie Hartman, ELARM founder, told The Progressive that the organization ceased operations in 2003. Direct Action members are dismayed that law enforcement agencies are spending their time and resources watching peaceful activists, Progressive reports.

There is no mention of violent acts by any of the three groups, and the documents specifically note that a protest the BAMN coalition participated in was not violent.

In a statement, BAMN promised to work with the ACLU to find out more about the domestic surveillance operations and stand up for "every other progressive organization in the country that this casts a shadow over."

In July, the ACLU sought the release of over 1,000 pages of FBI domestic surveillance communications, an effort the Bureau fought in court. Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss said the documents show that the FBI and other law enforcement groups pose a "threat to legitimate dissent."

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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