A secretive federal surveillance program led to the arrest of a black activist in Dallas who was jailed for five months over his Facebook posts, a new report claims.
The ordeal faced by Rakem Balogun was detailed by The Guardian last week.
The black activist described how he was picked up in an FBI operation at his Dallas home on Dec. 12, 2017. Agents investigating “domestic terror” informed him they had been monitoring him for years after he made Facebook posts critical of the police, The Guardian reported.
The report stated the activist was locked up for five months and denied bail as U.S. attorneys attempted and failed to prosecute him, accusing Balogun of being a threat to police and an illegal gun owner.
The man from Dallas is believed to be the first person picked up and prosecuted under a secretive U.S. surveillance program that targets so-called “black identity extremists.”
A report dated August 2017 was leaked later last year, The Guardian reported. It was created by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit and said the FBI believes it was very likely “Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.”
Balogun was believed to be the first person to be arrested under the initiative. He lost his home while he was locked up in a prison.
The apparent targeting of African Americans has alarmed some civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union.
Balogun’s connections appear to have caused him to fall under suspicion. He is co-founder of Guerrilla Mainframe and the Huey P Newton Gun Club, two groups campaigning against police brutality and supporting the rights of black gun owners.
Balogun took to Facebook with angry posts about the police after the high-profile police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
He expressed disgust at the way the media and cops portrayed the killings as justified in his posts.
An FBI agent revealed in court the agency started monitoring Balogun after he took part in a rally in Austin in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement.
The imprisonment of Rakem Balogun appears to raise some alarming questions given that he appears to have been locked up for exercising the right to free speech.
However, prosecutors brought a one-count indictment against Balogun for illegal firearm possession. Prosecutors claimed he was prohibited from owning a gun after a 2007 misdemeanor domestic assault case in Tennessee. This month, a judge rejected that charge, saying the firearms law did not apply.
If you have been arrested by the FBI, you may be facing very serious charges. It’s vital to hire an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer to ensure your rights are not being circumvented.