Wyden Demands Investigation of Federal Agencies Surveilling Black Lives Matter Protests
Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) are urging the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent federal agency, to investigate allegations that government agencies have been closely monitoring recent Black Lives Matter protests.
The lawmakers’ detailed letter states the importance of protests in advancing civil rights, cites several uninvestigated press reports of protester surveillance by federal agencies, enumerates several congressional inquiries on the topic, and urges PCLOB to use its statutory powers to investigate the federal government.
“The act of protesting has played a central role in advancing civil rights in our country, and our Constitution protects the right of Americans to engage in peaceful protest unencumbered by government interference,” the lawmakers wrote.“We are, therefore, concerned that the federal government is infringing on this right, and we ask that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) investigate the federal government’s surveillance of recent protests, the legal authorities for that surveillance, the government’s adherence to required procedures in using surveillance equipment, and the chilling effect that federal government surveillance has had on protesters.”
Reps. Eshoo and Rush have written several letters about protester surveillance, including a letter on June 9th signed by 35 Representatives to the FBI, National Guard, DHS, and CBP; follow up letters signed by 23 Representatives on July 17th to the FBI and CBP; and a letter on September 23rd requesting an investigation by the Inspectors General of DHS, DOJ, and the Intelligence Community. Their June 9th letter led to an Air Force Inspector General investigation of the National Guard’s flights over protests. Sen. Wyden has led letters on protester surveillance in Portland, Oregon, signed by members of the Oregon congressional delegation on June 24th to the U.S. Marshals Service and on September 25th to DHS.