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BlueLeaks: hackers detail police surveillance of BLM protests

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A massive leak of hacked law enforcement documents that’s been gaining momentum for nearly two weeks now keeps adding to the tensions surrounding ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. The nearly 300GB heavy data dump dubbed “BlueLeaks” already shed significant light on the extent of organized police surveillance targeting protesters who took to the streets following the late May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Hacktivist group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the hack which in total compromised over a million files from more than 200 police departments across the world. U.S. PDs were its single largest target, however, at 70,000 leaked documents and counting.

Police allegedly targeted private communications among protesters

Self-proclaimed “transparency collective” Distributed Denial of Secrets published the original BlueLeaks dump two weeks back, but the pile of hacked documents kept growing bigger on an almost daily basis ever since.

Arguably the most notable revelation stemming from the enormous leak is that Minnesota PD monitored not just social media activity but also private communications of attending protesters. What remains unclear is how the latter was achieved, i.e. whether the said police surveillance only encompassed screenshots of private chats that have been circulating the Internet since the whole ordeal started, or if law enforcement used other warrantless methods of obtaining such correspondence.

BlueLeaks also indicate Minneapolis PD was on the edge from the moment locals started demanding “justice for George Floyd”, even in the immediate aftermath of the May 25th killing, while the protests were still predominantly peaceful. Cross-department police chatter did not reflect that state of affairs, however, and was instead focused on high expectations of escalation. The leaks hence add to the existing pool of public allegations that local authorities share significant responsibility for the protests turning violent.

While DDOSecrets is likely to keep expanding on BlueLeaks in the coming days, one thing to bear in mind is that it isn’t randomly adding to this growing pile of police intelligence. Instead, the whistleblower organization is reviewing all documents prior to publication, meaning there’s a non-trivial chance it’s painting a narrative it wants to instead of merely adding context to the current BLM protests in an unbiased manner. After all, there’s no way of knowing whether it refrained from posting any number of internal documents that paint authorities in a more positive light.

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