How feds used a YouTube livestream to arrest a Portland protester

I knew when YouTube became GOOGLE property – on October 9, 2006 for 1.65BN in Google stock – it was going to be a double-edged Sword. On one hand – it would enable ALL THE POPULACE EVERYWHERE to become video broadcasters of Their Own Content!!  On the other hand – it could also be used to monitor, track and limit freedom of speech AT THE SAME TIME!!  Following is a perfect example of which I speak and the reason I never became a YouTuber!! 

Trump-deployed federal officers are using whatever they can to find evidence against activists.
A camouflaged federal officer pepper sprays a protester in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 20, 2020. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Social media and livestream feeds are being monitored and used against protesters in Portland, Oregon, as federal agents continue to patrol the city despite requests from local and state officials that they leave. As President Trump threatens to send feds to protests across the country, what’s happening in Portland is a possible future for other American cities.

The Trump administration deployed law enforcement officers from multiple federal agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Portland in early July, and they set up shop in the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which has been the site of demonstrations and the target of vandalism since May. From there, the federal agents have been accused of firing pepper spray and less-lethal munitions at protesters, severely injuring at least one of them. They’ve also started patrolling the city in unmarked cars, pulling people off the street and throwing them into vans while refusing to identify themselves. And a recent DHS directive has authorized agents to conduct surveillance of Americans to protect federal buildings as well as statues and monuments. Federal officials have said that they are not targeting peaceful demonstrations but that they are trying to quell civil unrest and violence.

State and local officials as well as civil rights groups have decried their presence and methods. The state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called it a “constitutional crisis,” and governor Kate Brown said they were “adding gasoline to the fire.” Portland protests are now attracting significantly larger crowds than they were before. President Trump, on the other hand, has threatened to expand this use of federal forces to other cities, including Chicago and New York. Many believe that Trump is using the unrest to push his “law and order” campaign strategy as election day approaches, positioning himself as a president who cracks down on crime when Democrat-led cities don’t.

“Donald Trump did not send in this paramilitary force to keep people safe,” Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said the Senate floor on Tuesday. “Trump is doing this to create images of chaos, to air them on far-right television and in campaign ads, and scare the country into reelecting him.”

Court records reveal some of their surveillance methods, including undercover agents stationed within the protesters, visual surveillance from the upper floors of the courthouse, and monitoring journalists’ livestreams for illegal activity in lieu of security cameras, which the court documents state have been damaged or stolen.

In the early hours of July 13, agents of the Federal Protective Service (FPS), a division of the DHS charged with guarding federal courthouses, surveilled protesters through citizen journalists’ livestreams, whose footage is being used both to amplify protesters’ messages and as evidence against them.

According to an affidavit from an FPS agent, law enforcement officers were watching a YouTube livestream when they saw a protester take a flaming wooden board and place it against the exterior wall of the courthouse. The footage appears to show the protester wedge the board between the stone courthouse wall and the wooden boards installed over a courthouse window to protect it from protester damage. A second protester appears to pick up the board and lean it against the wooden boards instead. Shortly afterward, a third person removes the board and extinguishes the fire. The first protester’s face is almost entirely covered and can’t be identified. But the second protester, whose face is unobscured, turns toward the camera as he walks away from the courthouse.

According to court documents, a DHS Intelligence Operations Specialist “analyzed” the livestream, took screenshots of the second protester’s face, and sent them back to agents inside the courthouse. The federal agents then “maintained surveillance” of the protester from inside and outside of the courthouse for several hours before arresting Kevin Benjamin Weier, who they say is the second protester. According to the affidavit, Weier told investigators that he was on the scene when the flaming board was placed against the courthouse but denied that he placed the board himself or even touched it. Weier did not respond to request for comment, nor did the DHS..


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