Private security groups routinely sent Minnesota police misinformation about protesters

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“I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was so deeply incongruous,” she says. they were drowned.” Ruddock says, “It was so grotesque and obviously designed to let me know they were watching me.” CRG had identified her, found a video of her music, and “blasted my music into my piece”.

“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, let alone that it was her song – and quickly walked out of the protest. She doesn’t know why she was chosen, but she suspects it was because she was frequently around the Seven Points area with a camera in hand, photographing the unrest in her neighborhood.

CRG also released recordings of speeches given by Martin Luther King Jr. to drown out chants during protests, according to three activists we spoke with. According to Rick Hodsdon, chairman of the Minnesota Board of Private Detectives and Protective Agent Services, no formal complaint against CRG has been filed. A complaint would trigger an investigation by the agency and could lead to the revocation of security licenses and, potentially, criminal charges.

A Look at “Intel Reports”

What Ruddock couldn’t know was that CRG also operated as a covert intelligence team for the Minneapolis Police Department. According to emails obtained by MIT Technology Review, CRG monitored activists in Uptown and often sent reports to the department. One of those 17-page reports, titled “Initial Threat Assessment,” describes the organizers as part of “antifa,” a term often used in far-right discourse to exaggerate the threat posed by radical left political groups. Ruddock has been identified as one of the leaders of antifa, a claim she calls “ridiculous” and says she has “never been affiliated with antifa or extremist groups”.

An email from CRG to MPD dated August 2021

(MIT Technology Review does not publish the reports we have reviewed due to the risk of spreading false and potentially defamatory information.)

Some of the reports include information from the internet and social media, as well as photographs of Ruddock and other activists. In an exchange between Seven Points and MPD, Seven Points referred to CRG’s “cameras they do surveillance with.” Some information is taken from the AntifaWatch website, including snaps of Ruddock and other activists during a mass arrest during a protest on June 5, 2021, two days after Smith’s death. The 2021 charges against Ruddock have since been dropped for “insufficient evidence” and there is ongoing litigation against the city surrounding the arrest.

AntifaWatch says it “exists to document and track Antifa and the far left.” The site publishes photographs of nearly 7,000 people allegedly engaged in or associated with antifa activities, along with other information about them. His information comes from news reports, social media posts, and submissions 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 entries on the site and found inaccuracies. For example, the daughter of former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is listed for arrest during a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020 in New York City. AntifaWatch called Chiara de Blasio a “riot with antifa,” though the police report does not indicate that de Blasio participated in riots.

The website states that “a report on AntifaWatch is in no way a form or accusation of involvement in Antifa, terrorism or terrorist groups” and says that it “is not a doxxing website” , although it explicitly attempts to identify and reveal personal information about individuals. His posts often contain bigoted language. It also has a facial recognition feature: anyone can upload an image and the website will return potential matches from its AntifaWatch database.

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