Leaked police documents reveal that federal and state law enforcement agencies distributed intelligence on potential violence at New England anti-police-brutality protests based on far-right activists’ social media posts. FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports citing the rumors were disseminated to local police departments by the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC) and similar agencies in the DHS’ network of “Fusion Centers,” which collect and distribute information on “potential terrorist threats.”
On June 19th, the online activist group Distributed Denial of Secrets published “BlueLeaks,” a huge database of internal emails, intelligence reports and other files maintained by over 200 law enforcement organizations nationwide. The MIAC was among the agencies compromised by the hack.
Leaked documents show that on June 2, the FBI’s Boston office created an internal “situational information report” for inter-agency distribution, titled: “Possible Placement of Stacks of Rocks and Bricks at Protests.” The FBI’s source is listed as “an officer of another law enforcement agency,” and the report was shared with cops throughout New England via Fusion Centers, including the MIAC.
The report states, “FBI Boston received a screenshot from the Facebook page ‘Liberty Rally on Boston City Hall.’ The post stated that there are rumors of stacks of bricks and stones that have been placed strategically throughout protests. The post indicated that ‘we think this is all part of the big plan.’” Boston FBI did not respond to a request for comment regarding this claim.
The Facebook page agents cited is the personal blog of a pro-Trump biker who refers to himself as “The Wolfman.” It was created on April 15 to promote claims that Massachussetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 are part of a tyrannical conspiracy to strip Americans of their rights.
The Wolfman told Mainer he couldn’t provide photographic evidence of protestors planting bricks, because “Facebook kept deleting [the photos] because they are BLM supporters.”
The Wolfman’s blog also promoted a May 16 protest at Gov. Baker’s home, which was co-sponsored by Super Happy Fun America, a hate group that organized the Boston Straight Pride Parade last year and a rally at Boston Police headquarters last February in support of Immigration and Customs Enforcement crackdowns on immigrants. According to Daily Beast journalist Will Sommer, Super Happy Fun America is a front for the violent white-nationalist group Resist Marxism.
On June 3, the MIAC disseminated a DHS “open intelligence” report based on a tweet from an anonymous account called Marlene45MAGA. The tweet included two pictures, of bricks neatly stacked next to a sidewalk and a roadway, and asked, “What if hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes & antibacterial soap had magically appeared to fight the #WuhanFlu like these bricks showed up to help #protest2020 destroy neighborhood businesses? Who thinks the #GeorgeFloydProtests spread across America faster than #coronavirus?”
In its report, DHS also referenced a retweet of that tweet (with the account name redacted) that declares, “BRICKS SET UP TO FUEL PROTEST!” and includes a hashtag calling Antifa a “domestic terrorist” organization.
“Twitter user claims piles of bricks are being staged around the United States to fuel violent opportunists in major cities,” the MIAC’s alert to local cops stated. “Source claims this is a tactic, technique and procedure (TTP) being used by … Antifa.” A related alert from the MIAC elaborated: “Prestaging normally innocuous material prior to a protest is an established tactic promoted in anarchist extremist literature.”
Warnings like these in the BlueLeaks files provide “more support for the political nature of intel analysis,” said Brendan McQuade, a professor at the University of Southern Maine whose 2019 book, Pacifying the Homeland: Intelligence Fusion and Mass Supervision, examines the role of Fusion Centers like the MIAC in the larger context of mass incarceration and social control. The Wolfman, for example, “is clearly not disinterested or credible,” McQuade said, “yet he’s taken as fact and … laundered by the MIAC.”
Fusion Centers’ counterterrorism work “often amounts to chasing ghosts: hyping up non-issues (protest become terrorism) or spamming local cops with information about minor issues,” McQuade added. “Fusion Center personnel have to justify their existence.”
That’s especially true in Maine. According to a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a Maine State Trooper this spring, the MIAC has spied on Mainers opposed to Central Maine Power’s controversial transmission-line project (and shared its findings with CMP), maintained an illegal database of legal gun owners, and has scrutinized volunteer counselors at the Seeds of Peace summer camp in Oxford County. Late last month, state lawmakers grilled top law enforcement officials about the MIAC, questioning its methods and whether the $700,000 the center received from Maine taxpayers this year is money well spent.