Louisiana Police Appear To Be Using A Hoax Antifa List Created By 8Chan To Open Criminal Investigations
from the cause-is-supposed-to-be-probable,-not-theoretically-possible dept
A public records request sent to the Louisiana State Police has uncovered something disturbing. Although the LSP continues to refuse to release the document in question, it appears this law enforcement agency has been using a bogus list of supposed Antifa members compiled by 8chan users to keep tabs on Americans opposed to Trump.
The public records lawsuit [PDF] filed by Harvard lecturer (and former staff attorney for Orleans Public Defenders) Thomas Frampton on behalf of records requester William Most, alleges law enforcement’s refusal to hand over the “antifa.docx” file referenced in obtained emails is an indication the state police actually believe this bogus “Antifa” list — compiled from a list of signatories to an anti-Trump petition — is credible enough to be used in ongoing investigations and litigation.
Here’s Frampton’s summation of the situation, as gleaned from the state police’s responses to Most’s repeated requests for a copy of the Antifa doc.
On August 27, 2018, while searching through the first batch of 64 emails, Mr. Most noticed several high-ranking LSP officers sharing a document entitled “full list of antifa.docx” in August 2017. The dossier was also shared with non-LSP law enforcement, including an official from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The LSP “Antifa” emails were sent just days after the conspiracy theory website “8Chan” published a fake dossier of what purported to be a full list of “Antifa.” The hoax was promoted on Neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront. The purported “Antifa” roster contains the names of thousands of ordinary, law-abiding citizens who signed an online petition against President Trump.
LSP has refused to disclose the “full list of antifa.docx” records. The Agency claims that releasing the document could “compromise” an ongoing criminal investigation in which LSP anticipates arrests, and reveal the identity of its “Confidential Informant.”
This suggests two things, neither of which make the LSP look any better. Either it truly believes the hoax doc is real, rather than just names take from an online petition, or it’s trying to avoid having to admit it was duped by a confidential informant, even if only temporarily.
The ever-present resistance to transparency by the state police is detailed in the filed motion as well. It’s not just the appearance of an undelivered “antifa.docx” file in an email string, but the agency’s refusal to meet court-ordered timelines or even begin work on fulfillment when its public records team says it will.
Defendant has completely withheld access to hundreds of records responsive to the Plaintiff’s initial and modified request, but this lawsuit deals only with the inspection of five (5) specific records, the attachments to the five emails identified in [Paragraph]l19 of this Petition. Defendant has withheld these records after months of arbitrary and capricious stalling and delay; first negligently, apparently, then intentionally; despite multiple offers by Mr. Most to accept redacted portions of the record; and notwithstanding good-faith pre-litigation efforts by Mr. Most to explain to Louisiana State Police why the records are not exempt from disclosure.
But it’s the Antifa doc that’s making headlines. Alone it could mean nothing more than something passed around by law enforcement officers and officials before being discarded. Coupled with the LSP’s insistence that release of the document would compromise both an investigation and its confidential informant, the refusal to release the docx file suggests the agency has opened investigations predicated on a hoax. However strongly one may feel about the criminality of Antifa’s actions, there’s nothing in this document justifying investigations and surveillance of people who did nothing more than sign an online petition. If the LSP fell for a hoax and opened investigations based on protected speech (the signing of online petitions), it’s going to be facing a lot more litigation in the future.