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.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: antifa, hoax, investigation, louisian, louisiana state police, public records, transparency, trolls
Companies: 8chan

Reader Comments

The First Word

If members of a local Klan chapter have broken no laws, I see no reason why those racist idiots should not be allowed to associate with each other and spout their racist bile to anyone who will listen. Someone’s association with a group that has heinous or hateful views should not, on its own, serve as proof of criminal activity.

If I assumed you were a criminal because you signed that petition and I found out you or a direct relative of yours was on that AntiFa list, I should be called out (and righfully so) for making such a foolish assumption. That sentiment remains the same if you replace “AntiFa” with “Democrats”, “socialists”, or “Juggalos”. And yes, I know the history of the Klan and its reign of violence across the South. But unless the police can prove that a Klan member has committed a crime and tie that crime back to other Klan members, being in the Klan should not in and of itself be considered proof of criminality. It could be a reason to suspect someone of criminal behavior, but nothing more.

Do not think of my position here as a positive view of the Klan. I despise their ideology and, if I could do so, I would sooner banish them from the world altogether than give them the time of day. But even racists have the right to associate with one another and not be considered criminals just because of their views. The First Amendment demands we protect that right, regardless of whether we like those views.

—Stephen T. Stone
made the First Word by Ninja

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 4 Sep 2018 @ 10:53am

    supporting documents

    ...are not mentioned.

    *IF* a LE agency gets a list of names from Source X that xrefs with names of "known members" from undisputed source - say arrest records positively, then YES, it's part of an ongoing investigation.

    Sure, an online petition is going to have a lot of "innocent" names on it. But if there's even ONE name on it that crosslinks to a true ANTIFA member, it's a supporting document and the LSP is correct in refusing to release it.

    The lesson here is simple: Don't sign online petitions.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.