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FBI Agents Blended into Portland’s Racial Justice Protests to Conduct Surveillance

A fire at a protest in Portland. Photo: Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents embedded themselves in Portland’s racial justice protests, wearing plainclothes and marching alongside activists to record their activities and notify local police of potential arrests, The New York Times reports

The covert surveillance of antifascists, communists, racial justice advocates and anarchists continued after protest crowds grew smaller but also rowdier, smashing windows and setting fires. 

When protests turned violent, agents increased their surveillance and reported back to local law enforcement. 

Inside the bureau, some agents worried that the protests went too far, raising First Amendment issues. 

Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the Portland Field Office, defended the surveillance, saying agents were pursuing “violent instigators who exploit legitimate, peaceful protests and engage in violations of federal law.”

“At all times, our focus was on those planning and committing significant criminal activity or acts of violence,” Ramsey said. 

The surveillance continued into 2021. 


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