LAPD Spied On Left-Wing Activists During Trump Protests

The Los Angeles police department infiltrated and spied on a left-wing activist group as they coordinated anti-Trump protests, according to newly disclosed police documents.

The LAPD ordered a confidential informant to secretly record the group Refuse Fascism, the documents show. Transcripts of the interaction were obtained in a criminal case against activists who were charged with trespassing after blocking traffic on a California freeway amid anti-Trump protests.

The operation was spearheaded by the LAPD’s Major Crime Division in October 2017 ahead of potential mass demonstration to mark the first anniversary of Trump’s election.

The informant was equipped by police with a hidden recording device and assigned the informant to attend Refuse Fascism meetings at a local church “in an attempt to elicit information regarding the closure” of the freeway and to express interest in being involved “in any such future activities”, police wrote.

As a result of the investigation, left-wing activist Miguel Antonio, who was monitored and recorded by the informant, charged with misdemeanors for shutting down the freeway.

Antonio vowed in an interview with The Guardian that not to allow threats of surveillance to intimidate him from organizing “peaceful protests.”

“We’re not scared. We’re not going to back down in the face of repression,” he said, adding that this kind of spying was meant to discourage activists. “You’re in a church, and you’re meeting about organizing a peaceful protest, and you’re running the risk of being charged with conspiracy or these petty crimes.”

Disclosure of the LAPD’s infiltration of the left-wing activist group comes after Republican Sens. Ted Cruz R-TX) and Bill Cassidy  (R-LA) introduced a resolution on July 18 that condemns Antifa’s “violent acts” and calls for the designation of the group as a “domestic terrorist organization.” 

The two senators referenced the recent attack by Antifa members on photojournalist Andrew Ngo in Portland. Ngo was taking pictures at a June 29 demonstration when he was beaten by Antifa members, subsequently suffering a brain hemorrhage and a torn ear lobe. 

Last, weed 69-year-old armed Willem Van Spronsen was killed by Washington state police as he attacked a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. Spronsen sent a manifesto to friends the day before the assault in which he wrote “I am Antifa,” and was being lionized by members of the leftwing group as a “martyr.”

Former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik has also warned the members of the left-wing activist group Antifa should be “designated as a terror group.”

Meanwhile, so-called civil rights advocates argue the LAPD’s infiltration of leftwing activists meetings are “deeply troubling.” Mohammad Tajsar, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California who specializes in surveillance matters warns the LAPD has damaged its ability to work cooperatively with demonstrators in the future by engaging in espionage tactics.  

“When you know that your investigation is going to infringe on core political rights that communities have, you have to be damn near certain that there is some criminal activity afoot,” Tajsar told the Los Angeles Times. “It cannot be that you’re relying on speculation, hunches, innuendos or your gut feeling.”

Frank Wulf, the pastor of the church where the LAPD was conducting the surveillance, said it was “offensive” for police to “infiltrate a group whose purposes are clearly non-violent”.

“The government is interfering with the rights of protest in America,” he said, adding that he worried about a chilling effect: “You never know if the person sitting next to you is a police informant or not.”

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9 thoughts on “LAPD Spied On Left-Wing Activists During Trump Protests

  1. If it takes an act of Congress to designate a terrorist group, I doubt that democrats will ever let it pass at this point in time.

  2. Not a Problem actually. The Group had a Previous History of Violent and Destructive Activities. Their Social Media and other Communications indicated they Had, and Planned to, Commit Crimes.

    Also, the Group, “Refuse Fascism” Openly Recruits and Accepts New Members

    An Undercover Operation would be Absolutely LEGAL and Appropriate.

    If LAPD had ONLY Speculation and Rumor (started by themselves)—-Then NO—Absolutely NO on the Investigation

  3. Kudos for another great report on what is really going on. I am truly grateful for your team actually practicing true investigative journalism. It is a rare joy these days.

    It is extremely troubling that the viscous assault on Andy Ngo was either ignored or downplayed by the DNC media.
    On the other hand, it is good that that violent attack has prompted calls for “antifa” to be designated as a domestic terror organization. And city ordinances banning adults from wearing masks in public (with reasonable exceptions for brutal winter weather and Halloween) are being debated. Bothe would be steps in the right direction.

  4. No one has a political right to shut down a freeway. I applaud the police for infiltrating this group as there has been a history of shutting down main access in cities. No one likes to be forced into a position where they have to listen to someone – especially when they are some nut job.

    Here’s how political rights rights – You want to make a speech? You file a permit in a public spot and anyone who wants to listen can. You don’t shut down freeways and force people to listen to you. That is a mob mentality and it’s called anarchy.

  5. How is this any different than police infiltrating gangs and drug pushiers who are bent on committing crimes against society. Any group who commits crimes should be infiltrated/investigated. The reason they are not concentrating on Trump supporters, even though there are a small amount of fanatics on the fringe that may get out of hand, is because the preponderance of Trump supporters do not turn violent and commit crimes against society. What do you see? Anti-Trump, wearing masks and tearing up property, getting in the face of opponents , goading and violently attacking people or Trump supporters with no masks demonstrating in a lawful and peaceful manner?
    So, if the LAPD wants to monitor the Pro-Trump groups, fine. If those groups are planning violence, bust them, Iwon’t mind. Frankly though its a waste of a resource in that it’s pretty easy to see it’s those on the Left that need to be watched. If they are not plotting violence they have nothing to fear. If they are, when they commit those acts arrest and prosecute them. It seems that the Left isn’t as intellectual or progressive as they like to believe. They seem to be the party of criminal violence.

  6. It’s not peaceful protest when you shut down a highway blocking people from going about their business. If they were on the side of the road, yes, but that is not what they did.

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