#BlackLivesMatter activists were 'monitored by cyber security firm' during Baltimore Freddie Gray protests

Documents have emerged that reveal dozens of people were being watched

Protesters in Baltimore
Protesters in Baltimore

A cyber-security firm apparently monitored civil rights activists during the protests and rioting that broke out in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray and identified several of them as “threat actors”.

Reports said a Maryland-based firm, ZeroFox, which previously watched protesters for the New York Police Department, monitored the social media output of a number of members of the Black Lives Matter movement and claimed their presence warranted an “immediate response”.

It is not clear whether the company monitored the activists as part of a formal arrangement with the Baltimore Police, though earlier this year it was in correspondence with the city’s mayor about its possible “surveillance help”.

DeRay Mckesson said he was not surprised by the revelation he was monitored

Both the company and the city’s police department did not immediately respond to inquiries.

The details of the apparent surveillance were contained within emails first obtained by the City Explainer community news site and the Baltimore Sun. They also revealed that as Baltimore was rocked by the protests held in the aftermath of Mr Gray’s death, the city’s website was knocked out by hackers.

On Monday, Mother Jones reported that ZeroFox was involved in the monitoring of 62 so-called threat actors and 187 “threat influencers”. These included a Twitter user who was described as a main local protest organiser”.

Among those apparently monitored were DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie, two prominent Black Lives Matter activists. A report by ZeroFox said it was engaged in “continuous monitoring” of their social media accounts and their geographical locations.

The report does not suggest that the pair were suspected of criminal activity but were “main coordinators of the protests”.

Freddie Gray died in April after being arrested by police in Baltimore

Mr McKesson told the magazine’s website they were not surprised that they were being watched.

“It confirms that us telling the truth about police violence is seen as a threat,” said Mr McKesson.

Mr Gray, 25, died in April, ten days he was bundled into a police vehicle by officers who had detained him. Six officers have since been charged, one of them with murder.

His death sparked many days of peaceful protests, a several days of sporadic riots that broke out in parts of the city.

A report by the coroner found that the young man died from a "high-energy injury”, most likely caused when the police van suddenly braked.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in