NYPD Used Reverse Warrants To Round Up Proud Boys Members Suspected Of Beating Antifa Members

from the bringing-Google's-data-slurping-to-a-hashtag-war dept

The first documented case of the NYPD using reverse warrants to find criminal suspects has been revealed. It made its appearance in perhaps the most 2019 of cases: the trial of two members of the Proud Boys facing assault charges for allegedly attacking members of Antifa.

Reverse warrants work this way: law enforcement agencies approach tech companies with geographic coordinates, asking for phone data for all phones within the geofenced area during a certain time frame. Using this data, law enforcement works its way backwards to probable cause, sifting through records to find what phones were in the area when the alleged crime was committed.

Obviously, this is a highly-imperfect way to track down suspects. For one, GPS data collected by companies like Google isn't exactly precise. For another, "fenced-in" areas will always contain numerous people who aren't criminals or even suspects, but the data turns them all into suspects until investigators sort them out. The more heavily-trafficked an area is, the more likely the chance officers will pursue the wrong phones/people.

This case was made a bit trickier by the victims' unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation. As George Joseph reports for Gothamist, the lack of victims to question nudged the NYPD towards deploying the legally-dubious tactic.

The use of this surveillance technique has not been confirmed in New York City until now. An investigator for the Manhattan DA revealed it during testimony last week in a case involving a politically-charged assault from last year.

The defendants are members of the Proud Boys, a group of pro-Trump rightwing extremists who allegedly beat up four leftist protesters, believed to be associated with Antifa, outside an Upper East Side event last October. The four protesters refused to cooperate with police, and authorities were unable to identify them.

According to the New York Times' account of this trial, the victims are evoked repeatedly in the court, despite no one knowing their names. This oddity has lead to the composition of sentences no one has ever read before.

The four who were assaulted refused to talk with the police. They were identified in an indictment only as Shaved Head, Ponytail, Khaki and Spiky Belt. Their whereabouts are unknown.

The two accused Proud Boys members are using the general perception of Antifa as violent to argue these attacks -- which were caught on video -- were actually acts of self-defense. The manhunt for the Proud Boys suspects may have taken the NYPD a bit longer, but the same Antifa that aggravated its own assault also provided law enforcement with plenty of useful information.

“There was a tremendous amount of what we call ‘doxxing,’” the detective, Thomas Mays, testified, using a slang term for the practice of disclosing personal information online. “Names that were given for the individuals.”

However you may feel about this comeuppance of the still-presumed-innocent Proud Boys members, the fact that the NYPD used this tactic successfully should be more than a bit chilling. Here's what the NYPD demanded from Google.

According to the investigator’s testimony, authorities were looking for location records from “Google’s Android platform and Google-based apps, such as Google Maps, [that] utilize location service[s].” The warrant requested records from multiple sites, including where the conflict broke out on 82nd Street and other locations where participants in the clash may have been that evening.

New York City is home to a densely-packed 8.6 million people. Throwing up geofences almost anywhere in the city is bound to return hundreds, if not thousands, of records that have nothing to do with the crime being investigated. At that point, the data is in the NYPD's hands and residents are at the mercy of investigators' haystack-sorting skills.

To make matters worse, if the use of reverse warrants in Minnesota is any indication, judges aren't being given enough information to make judgment calls on the mass harvesting of phone records in search of a suspect. In most cases, all they get are geographic coordinates that tell them next to nothing about the size -- or population density -- of the area targeted. And yet (or perhaps despite this), these warrants are being approved in minutes, suggesting judges are simply trusting the cops know what they're doing with all their highly-technical toys.

In the end, these warrants are surveillance dragnets that grab everyone located inside the coordinates. And it's left up to the discretion of these blue-suited fisherman to determine which of these hundreds of fish gets tossed back into the suspicion-free ocean. Reverse warrants aren't really warrants. Warrants require probable cause. Reverse warrants require only guesswork and faith.

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Filed Under: 4th amendment, antifa, nypd, privacy, proud boys, reverse warrant
Companies: google

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    R,ogs/s, 17 Aug 2019 @ 10:28am

    Re: rubber /glue, plus partisan bias

    In case I havent been clear: my work is part performance art, part journalism, and entirely a reaction formation to my abject horror at watching K 4 adopt the tactics of the KKK (K 3).

    In that light, keep in mind that I reported on the first alleged Somali manufactured terrorist in the US, long before Masnick got internetz famous -and then had K 4 and other sordid scum up my ass for more than a decade, because I practiced non -biased journalism( which means that I neither codoned nor accepted ADLified narrative supremacy, unlike TD ).

    As for linking mass shooters alleged manifestos to their alleged crimes, where alleged mass shootings occured, allegedly by their actions, I urge you to study the term “due process,” and its cousin in law “trial by jury” to understand that NO MASS SHOOTERS MOTIVE CAN BE INFERRED, OR KNOWN without a trial by their peers, with evidence, followed by conviction, and as such, no alleged manifesto can be proven to be any one shooters any more than the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion can be proven to be a Rothschild plot.

    Now, to your other bizarre, evidence free point, that I promulgate “conspiracy theories”-can you provide evidence of that?

    Because all I have done is basic gumshoe investigative journalism, and provided links, and facts across a period of time , where such indicate a pattern, replicated across data sets, specifically, K 4 radicalized shooters who are frequently radicalized by incessant, ADL rhetoric fueled community policing, aka, organized gang stalking.

    So, yeah, theres that. With shitloads of evidence.

    So, if you wish to provide evidence (which neither you or Mike has done) of my delusional theoretical basis, please do so, and then, in all fairness, I can refute or concede the veracity of your accusations.

    Now, about your derelict faith in our modern police state, and your sheeple -esque faith in crisis PR sponsored narrative, I urge you to investigate the Pulse nightclub shooting, and how many innocent gay partygoers were slaughtered by SWAT team bullets, as G4S worked its "parallel colliding investigations” magic in sync with FBI CVE programs, against a man who was the son of an FBI asset.

    I will not provide links, because they literally are everywhere for even the laziest Google user to find.

    But its simply a gross mischaracterization of my online work to claim that I engage in conspiracy "theories” when in fact, conspiracy facts are everywhere you look in these cases, starting with gross silence about FBI/DHS/NGO/Community policing, utilizing Fusion Center tracking of targeted persons, and bizarre “communitarian policing”.

    As for the Dayton shooter, his statements alone are evidence enough for Fusion Center informants, ATAP radicalize private contractors, and local police to begin targeting him for hidden, investigatory privileged "threat assessment" aka Israelified “othering”and the attendant online/offline stalking by police/community policing that follows such profiling.

    So, as you ask of me, thus: " unless those statements are directly and definitively declared to be the motive for his act of mass violence, there isn’t any sense in leaping to that conclusion.”

    I ask you to ask those in Fusion Centers, snagogues, churches, and poluce departments in Dayton OH. I mean- it is "they” who have that answer. But I personally have documented evidence of political elements in that area that do EXACTLY what I claim.

    As so many faux-leftists are fond of saying “words have consequences.” So, no small surprise then, that the right has now used that, and radicalized a leftist, who specifically stated that fascists should be killed-and then, killed people in a hipster bar.

    Like any/all of these cases, the only constant is gun control centered press, and hidden radicalization. But in DVIC high policing, proof CANNOT, and DOES NOT exist, in any of these cases, because the facts have not been tried in a court of law.

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