Private security groups regularly sent Minnesota police misinformation about protestors

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“I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was so deeply incongruous,” he says. “Honestly, I felt pretty humiliated by that, because there were all these people trying to talk and they were being drowned.” Ruddock says, “It was so grotesque and obviously designed to let me know they were looking at me.” CRG had identified him, found a video of his music and “blew my music around my neighborhood.”

“I felt like I was going to have a panic attack,” he says. Ruddock tried to explain the situation to other activists – many of whom did not know he was a musician, let alone his song – and quickly abandoned the protest. She doesn’t know why they pointed her out, but she suspects it was because she frequently attended the Seven Points environment with the camera in her hand, photographing the riots in her neighborhood.

CRG also reproduced recordings of speeches made by Martin Luther King Jr. to drown out the chants at the protests, according to three activists we spoke to. According to Rick Hodsdon, chairman of the Minnesota Board of Private Detectives and Protective Services, no formal complaint has been filed against CRG. 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 the “intellectual reports”

What Ruddock might not have known is that CRG also functioned as a covert intelligence team for the Minneapolis police department. According to emails obtained by the MIT Technology Review, CRG monitored activists in Uptown and often sent reports to the department. One such 17-page report, titled “Initial Threat Assessment,” described organizers as part of “antifa,” a term often used in far-right discourse to exaggerate the threat posed by radical left-wing political groups. Ruddock was identified as one of the antifa leaders, a statement he described as “ridiculous” and says he “has never been affiliated with antifa or any extremist group.”

An email from CRG to MPD dated August 2021

(MIT Technology Review does not publish the reports we have reviewed for 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 “surveillance cameras.” Some information is extracted from the AntifaWatch website, including photographs of Ruddock and other activists of a mass arrest during a protest on June 5, 2021, two days after Smith’s death. Since then, 2021 charges against Ruddock have been dropped for “insufficient evidence” and there is a pending lawsuit 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 involved in antifa or antifa activities, along with other information about them. Your information comes from news, social media posts, and submissions that anyone can make. The website says that “for a report to be approved, it must have a reasonable level of evidence (news article, arrest image, riot image, self-identification, etc.).” MIT Technology Review tried to verify several of the site’s entries and found inaccuracies. For example, the daughter of former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the list to be arrested in a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020 in New York City. AntifaWatch characterized Chiara de Blasio as “riots with antifa,” although the police report does not indicate that de Blasio was involved in the riots.

The website states that “a report on AntifaWatch is in no way, forms or constitutes an indictment of its involvement in antifa, terrorism or terrorist groups” and says that “it is not a doxxing website”, although attempts to explicitly identify and disclose personal information about people. His publications often contain fanatical language. It also includes a facial recognition feature: anyone can upload an image and the website will return possible matches from its AntifaWatch database.

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