'Classic intimidation'—Black Lives Matter activists targeted by FBI ahead of RNC

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 10, 2016. REUTERS

The Republican National Convention kicks off this Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio. Most of the highest-profile activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement are not planning to attend, but that didn't stop FBI agents from contacting them by phone, and showing up at their homes to interrogate them and their grandmothers.

Wesley Lowery at the Washington Post was first to share the scoop on a most recent round of FBI "visits" today. Lowery knows first-hand how heavy-handed law enforcement response to the protests has been, because he was roughly arrested and jailed while covering Ferguson in 2014.

This is not the only recent report of law enforcement pre-emptively visiting activists they believe may protest at the RNC.

In June, Mother Jones ran a feature about how police are targeting black human rights activists ahead of the Republican party gathering: “Local and federal authorities have begun aggressively tracking activists—including members of the Black Lives Matter movement who have helped spotlight Cleveland's brutal policing problems.”

“The people receiving these visits and calls have found them intimidating,” the MoJo article continues. Yeah, no shit. Snip:

Last week, law enforcement agents began visiting the homes of known activists in Cleveland. Jocelyn Rosnick, an attorney with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is providing legal advice and holding civil rights trainings for activists ahead of the RNC, said her group had received about two dozen reports from activists who said they'd been visited by agents from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service, or by Cleveland PD officers and Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputies. Law enforcement agents, some of them said, also made phone calls to relatives, neighbors, and places of employment asking about the activists' whereabouts. According to Rosnick, most of these reports have come from people involved with the local chapter of Black Lives Matter or the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Cleveland should be quite a shitshow when the convention kicks off a few days from now. Law enforcement there will have a lot to manage. Groups who are known to be planning protests at the Convention include the New Black Panthers, Westboro Baptist Church, various flavors of Trump fans and Trump haters. The juxtapositions sound surreal. Lowery tweeted today, “Westboro has protest permit at same time & place as Cleveland's communist bookstore. RNC's gonna be funnnn...”

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the "Oversight of the State Department" in Washington U.S. July 7, 2016.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2K7E6

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the "Oversight of the State Department" in Washington U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS

Below, tweets from Johnetta Elzie and Samuel Sinyangwe, two of the Black human rights activists targeted by the FBI this week.