Feds Surveilled South Florida Immigration Protests in 2018, Report Says

June 30 of last year, activists in more than 600 cities planned demonstrations against President Donald Trump's policy of separating children and parents who'd arrived at the U.S. border seeking asylum. According to public records obtained today by the Intercept, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security monitored those protesters as if they were security threats.

Emails obtained by the news outlet show that a private contractor working with DHS, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, monitored numerous locations in South Florida — including protests in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Hollywood, and Miami-Dade College's Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. (The list includes locations in virtually every other major city in America as well.) Ultimately, LookingGlass advised DHS to closely monitor a few specific demonstrations, including one at a high school in Sebring, just north of Lake Okeechobee.

“LookingGlass has compiled a spreadsheet for State Fusion Centers detailing over 600 planned ‘Family Separation Day Protests’ across the US on June 30,” one email to DHS states. “These originated from Cyber Threat Center (CTC) and are broken out by City and State; they provide physical location and the Facebook event ID.”

In response, LookingGlass declined to speak to the Intercept, and DHS claimed the list provided by the company was "unsolicited."

The news is just the latest in a series of revelations showing how the federal government has been monitoring activists and journalists critical of U.S. immigration policy. In March, NBC San Diego obtained a cache of documents showing the federal government monitored activists, reporters, and social media influencers who were tied to or covering the movements of a migrant caravan approaching the U.S.-Mexico border. In some cases, the government placed alerts on the passports of journalists and U.S. citizens who were reporting critically on the government.

The station reported:
One photojournalist said she was pulled into secondary inspections three times and asked questions about who she saw and photographed in Tijuana shelters. Another photojournalist said she spent 13 hours detained by Mexican authorities when she tried to cross the border into Mexico City. Eventually, she was denied entry into Mexico and sent back to the U.S. 
The El Paso Police Department recently issued an arrest warrant for Miami artist Alexandra Mondolfi after her protest group placed stickers honoring people killed by border agents at the U.S. Border Patrol Museum in Texas.

Videos show Miami's family-separation protest in June 2018 was well attended. The Miami Herald posted footage of hundreds of people blocking traffic by marching on Biscayne Boulevard. At the time, at least 2,300 children had been separated from their parents at the U.S. border in an all-but-certain violation of international law:
Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda led the main Families Belong Together protest in Washington, D.C., that day. Most of the Miami protest was led by Marleine Bastien, who heads the Family Action Network Movement, a group that fights for the rights of immigrants in Miami, especially those in the Haitian community.

"They are not criminals!" Bastien was filmed shouting into a megaphone in front of Miami's Freedom Tower, a former immigration building that for decades was a gateway for Cuban refugees to enter America.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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