The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label ProPublica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ProPublica. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

ProPublica: Hate In America






Happy Holidays...... But hate doesn't take a holiday.

Exhibit

_____________________
Repost From ProPublica
Documenting Hate in America: What We Found in 2018
Swastikas drawn on the office of a Jewish Ivy League professor. Latinos harassed for speaking Spanish in public. Hijab-wearing women targeted in road rage incidents. Neo-Nazis bragging online about a murder. These are just some of the incidents that we and our partners have reported in our second year of Documenting Hate, a collaborative project investigating hate with more than 160 newsrooms around the country. 
Since we launched the project in January 2017, victims and witnesses of hate incidents have sent us more than 5,400 reports from all 50 states. We've verified nearly 1,200 reports, either via independent reporting or through corroborating news coverage. We've also collected thousands of pages of hate crime data and incident reports from hundreds of police departments across the country.
Here are some of the highlights from the project this year, including ProPublica's work and reporting by partners using our tips and resources. (Read all our reporting from the past year here.)
Dozens of Hate-Fueled Attacks Reported at Walmart Stores Nationwide, UnivisionUnivision’s Jessica Weiss identified dozens of harassment incidents at Walmarts and other superstores. Walmarts often act as “de facto ‘town centers,’” and people of color end up getting targeted, such as being told to go back to their country or to speak English. Just this month, two men in Louisiana were arrested for allegedly yelling racial slurs at a black woman leaving a Walmart and smashing a shopping cart into her car.
They Spewed Hate. Then They Punctuated It With the President’s Name, Reveal from the Center for Investigative ReportingReveal went through hundreds of tips in which President Donald Trump’s name was mentioned, identifying incidents all over the country ranging from harassment to assault. Reporter Will Carless spoke to 80 people who reported these tips, and he found an additional 70 cases reported in the media or confirmed with documentation. 
“Dozens of people across the country said the same thing: What hurts most in these attacks is being told that you don’t belong in America,” Carless wrote. “That you’re not welcome. That since Trump was elected, the country has been reserved for a certain group — a group that doesn’t look like you or dress like you or practice the same religion as you.”
A Killing at Donkey Creek, ProPublicaProPublica’s Rahima Nasa reported on potentially bias-motivated crimes that weren’t prosecuted as hate crimes, including the killing of a Native American man in Washington state. Even though there were indications he was targeted and run over because of his ethnicity, prosecutors didn’t bring bias crime charges. The man convicted of the homicide received only 7 ½ years in prison.
Police Are Mislabeling Anti-LGBTQ and Other Crimes as Anti-Heterosexual, ProPublica
ProPublica’s Rahima Nasa and I discovered that some police officers were marking some crimes as anti-heterosexual, including anti-LGBTQ bias crimes and offenses that weren’t even bias-related. Those crimes were then reflected erroneously in the FBI’s national hate crime data. Some of the police departments we contacted said they’d fix the errors. “Thank you for bringing it to our attention, because we never would have known,” one records officer told us. 
Hate in Schools, Education WeekEducation Week’s Francisco Vara-Orta examined hate incidents in schools, which affect black, Latino, Muslim and Jewish students. He built on previous reporting our partners had done to analyze patterns, finding that hate speech, both written and spoken, was the most common occurrence, while the largest number of reports happened the day after the 2016 election. Swastikas were the most common hate symbol; the most common words were the n-word, various versions of “build the wall” and “go back to [foreign country].” 
Hate in America, Education Week
This year, we partnered with News 21, a project of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. A team of News21 reporters did a deep dive into how hate crimes are investigated and tracked, how laws are enforced, and what groups are targeted. They found that more than 2.4 million suspected bias crimes were committed between 2012 and 2016, based on an analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, but only 12 percent of the nation’s police departments reported any hate crimes to the FBI during this period. They also found that only about 4 percent of hate crime victims who reported to police had those crimes verified by law enforcement, and that only 100 hate crimes were prosecuted at the federal level from January 2010 to July 2018. 
In The Name Of Hate, Muslim Women Face Road Rage Behind The Wheel, HuffPost
HuffPost’s Rowaida Abdelaziz identified road rage incidents affecting Muslims and people of Arab descent. Hijab-wearing women reported hearing slurs or seeing threatening gestures from drivers, or even nearly getting driven off the road. Those interviewed said it happens so often that they don’t see a point in reporting it, especially since it’s hard to gather evidence while driving. Abdelaziz also wrote about a road rage incident recorded by a college student in Texas, which prompted an open letter from the local mayor. 
Hate in Maryland: From Racist Taunts to Swastikas to a Campus Stabbing, Bias Reports Up Sharply in State, The Baltimore SunThe Baltimore Sun’s Catherine Rentz gathered and analyzed two years worth of hate crime data from Maryland police departments, and she found that police categorized more than half of reported hate crimes as inconclusive. Law enforcement only forwarded verified reports to the FBI to include in their annual data, leaving out potential bias crimes in which a perpetrator wasn’t identified. Ten of the state’s counties reported zero hate crimes.
Documenting Hate: New American Nazis, ProPublica and Frontline 
In a two-part documentary, ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson and Frontline investigated white supremacist groups the Rise Above Movement and Atomwaffen, discovering members and associates’ involvement in violence and even murder. Reporters identified neo-Nazis who were active-duty members of the military, and one white supremacist with a government security clearance. The project had major impact. It led to indictments and arrests, a firing, a prison sentence and a change in Marine Corps policy. 
Jewish Professor Finds Swastikas Outside Her Office at Columbia Teachers College, Gothamist/WNYCWhile overall crime is down in New York City, hate crimes are on the rise, and our partner WNYC has been reporting on many of the incidents happening around the city. 
We’ve received hundreds of reports about swastikas, and one report ended up going national after WNYC’s Arun Venugopal broke the story of anti-Semitic vandalism in a Columbia University professor’s office. The professor, who researches the Holocaust, said it was the second time her office had been vandalized. WNYC also reported that one of New York City’s top civil rights officials was targeted in a hate incident, but when she reported it to police, they allegedly discouraged her from making a report. 
The Cities Where the Cops See No Hate, BuzzFeed NewsNearly 90 percent of law enforcement agencies that voluntarily submit data to the FBI claim to have no hate crimes. So Peter Aldhous of BuzzFeed News reviewed more than 2,400 incident reports of assaults from 10 police departments that reported zero hate crimes in 2016. In the process, he identified assaults that should have been classified as potential bias crimes but weren’t. 
We’re still figuring out where the Documenting Hate project goes from here, but we’re proud of the work it has produced, both by our newsroom and by our partners. It’s a topic that, unfortunately, retains its relevance and its urgency. 
Have you been a victim or witness of a hate incident? Please tell us your story. 
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.
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Friday, December 14, 2018

ProPublica: Trump’s Inauguration





ProPublica

Trump’s Inauguration Paid Trump’s Company — With Ivanka in the Middle

When it came out this year that President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised and spent unprecedented amounts, people wondered where all that money went.

It turns out one beneficiary was Trump himself.

The inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company’s Washington hotel, according to interviews as well as internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica.

During the planning, Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s eldest daughter and a senior executive with the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the price the hotel charged the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee for venue rentals. A top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and others at the company to “express my concern” that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces, worrying of what would happen “when this is audited.”

If the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law. The inaugural committee’s payments to the Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump’s role have not been previously reported or disclosed in public filings.

“The fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment,” said Marcus Owens, the former head of the division of the Internal Revenue Service that oversees nonprofits.

Inaugural workers had other misgivings. Rick Gates, then the deputy to the chairman of the inaugural, asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors, rather than through the committee, according to two people with direct knowledge. The vendors felt the request was unusual and concerning, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they signed confidentiality agreements. It is not clear whether any vendors took him up on his request.

The revelations about the inauguration’s finances show how Trump blurred the lines between his political and business lives, as the real estate mogul ascended to the presidency.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal investigation into whether the inaugural committee misspent money and whether donors gave in return for political favors, citing people familiar with the matter. In addition, The New York Times reported that prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funnelled money to the inauguration.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, said: “When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate.’ Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

Mirijanian did not provide evidence that Ivanka Trump sought a fair market rate.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said it “is not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors. We simply have no evidence the investigation exists.” The White House and a lawyer for Gates did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not comment.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday night, when asked about the story in the Journal.

President-elect Trump was repeatedly briefed on inaugural planning and specific events, according to one committee worker with direct knowledge. WNYC and ProPublica have seen presentations that were shown to the president-elect, complete with renderings and floor plans.

Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee, which was chaired by his friend the businessman Tom Barrack, raised nearly $107 million from donors including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and AT&T. The January 2017 festivities cost almost twice President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, previously the most expensive. The nonprofit that planned Trump’s inauguration booked many spaces in the Trump International Hotel, located in the Old Post Office building near the White House, including a ballroom, hotel rooms and work spaces, as well as paying for meals there, according to several people who worked on the inauguration.

How the inaugural committee managed to spend all the money it raised remains a mystery, nearly two years after the event. While groups that support political candidates or issues must publicly detail their spending, an inaugural committee is required to list only its top five contractors. That leaves about $40 million unaccounted for.

Greg Jenkins, who led George W. Bush’s second inauguration, was perplexed by the Trump team’s mammoth fundraising haul. “They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did,” Jenkins told WNYC and ProPublica this year. “So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know.”

As planning for the inauguration was underway in December 2016, Ivanka Trump was still an executive vice president at the Trump Organization. But she was reportedly preparing to move to Washington and take on a greater public role. She now serves as an adviser to the president.

Around the middle of the month, with Inauguration Day scarcely a month away, Ivanka Trump was asked to help resolve a dispute between inaugural planners and her family’s Washington hotel, according to emails.

The problem: Organizers thought the hotel was charging too much money.

Emails show that Ivanka Trump connected Gates with Mickael Damelincourt, managing director of the hotel. Damelincourt responded with a new rate of $175,000 per day for use of the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms, offering a $700,000 charge for four days of use.

It is not clear what the earlier price was, but Damelincourt’s revised rate did not satisfy one of the lead organizers of the inauguration, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

In an email to Ivanka Trump and Gates, Wolkoff, who had previously managed the Metropolitan Museum’s annual gala and fashion shows at Lincoln Center, expressed discomfort with the price.

“I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern,” Wolkoff wrote in the December email.

“These events are in PE’s [the president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge,” she wrote, noting that other locations would be provided to the inaugural committee for free.

“I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context,” Wolkoff wrote, suggesting a day rate of $85,000, less than half of the Trump hotel’s offer.

A former Trump hotel staffer confirmed that the inaugural committee paid for inaugural week events at the hotel. It’s not clear what price the committee ultimately paid. Previous media coverage has focused on spending by outside groups at the Trump hotel but it was not known that the official inaugural committee itself spent significant sums there.

Wolkoff also raised concerns about spending in a conversation with then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, according to the story in the Journal. Federal prosecutors have a recording of that conversation, according to the Journal. The Times story suggests that conversation took place well after the inauguration.

Wolkoff, who is a friend of first lady Melania Trump, did not respond to a request for comment. Wolkoff’s firm, WIS Media Partners, was the inauguration’s highest-paid contractor, according to the committee’s tax filing. Wolkoff was scrutinized in media accounts this year because the firm received nearly $26 million. Most of that of the money was passed on to subcontractors, according to a person familiar with the spending. It is possible that payments to the Trump hotel were included in that sum.

If the Trump hotel charged the inaugural committee above-market rates, it could violate tax rules, according to Owens, the nonprofit tax expert who is now a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb.

If a person with “substantial influence” over a nonprofit group charges the group above-market rates in a transaction with their outside business, the IRS can impose steep fines. In this case, Donald Trump could qualify as a person with such influence. Should the tax agency find that a violation occurred, the Trump Organization would have to refund any overcharge and the inaugural committee would be hit with a 25 percent tax on the money, Owens said.

Owens added that IRS audits of nonprofits are increasingly rare. Since the inaugural committee was incorporated in Virginia, the state attorney general there could also have standing to investigate its operations.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said its finances “were fully audited internally and independently and are fully accounted. … These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors.”

The inaugural committee spent money at the Trump International in Washington in other ways as well. Many workers came from California and New York and stayed at the hotel, eating their meals there and holding meetings. Receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica show they typically paid about $350 a night. According to an inaugural worker, 15 to 20 inaugural workers stayed at the hotel most nights for roughly a month in the run-up to the inauguration, at a total cost of what could be more than $200,000.

The professional resumes of top Trump hotel staffers indicate they worked closely with the presidential inaugural committee. The hotel’s director of food and beverage says on his LinkedIn profile that he was “working with PIC [Presidential Inaugural Committee] during the 2017 Inauguration” and a “related series of very special events.”

The day before Trump’s swearing in, the inaugural committee hosted a Leadership Luncheon in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom, featuring his cabinet nominees and major donors. “This is a gorgeous room,” the president-elect told the crowd. “A total genius must have built this place.” And the night of the inauguration itself, Trump’sfamily and close allies such as Sean Hannity celebrated into the early morning at an exclusive after-party in the Trump hotel’s grand lobby. Thousands of red, white and blue balloons were released from the rafters.

Some vendors for the inauguration became concerned when Gates, a top inaugural committee official, asked them to take payments outside of the normal committee invoicing process, according to two people with knowledge of what happened. He proposed that they be paid for their work directly from a would-be donor rather than by the committee. Gates told the vendors that the inaugural committee had received pledges of more money than was initially targeted, and, therefore, he wished to reduce the publicly reported sum raised.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment. Last February, he pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of lying to the FBI and conspiracy, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.
Over the summer, Gates was cross examined about his work for the inauguration in the trial of his former boss, Paul Manafort. Gates conceded that he might have charged personal expenses to the committee. “It’s possible,” he said.

In a separate episode this year, a U.S. lobbyist pleaded guilty to helping a Ukrainian businessman and member of Parliament buy tickets to the inauguration, in violation of rules barring the committee from taking foreign money. The inaugural committee was not accused of wrongdoing in that case.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.  Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

ProPublica: White Supremacists Arrested






Image result for antifa arrested after charlottesville 

ProPublica 

(photos are not published by ProPublica)

Four Men Arrested Over Unrest During 2017 “Unite the Right” Rally

Image result for Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis,Thomas Gillen, and Cole White

The four are members or associates of the Rise Above Movement, a white supremacist group based in Southern California, prosecutors say.


by Rahima Nasa
Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced they had arrested four members or associates of the Rise Above Movement, a white supremacist group, over their alleged role in the infamous 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The four men were charged with having traveled to Charlottesville with the aim of inciting a riot and conspiracy to incite a riot, and prosecutors submitted an array of photographs and videos capturing the men pummeling and choking protesters over two days.

If convicted, the men — Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach, California; Thomas Walter Gillen, 34, of Redondo Beach; Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, California; and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, California — could face five years in prison for each of two federal riot charges. White has been described as an associate of the group, not a member.

Most of the men charged on Tuesday have been the subject of reporting by ProPublica and Frontline over the last year. RAM, based in Southern California, claimed more than 50 members in 2017 and an overriding purpose: physically attacking its ideological foes. Its members spend weekends training in boxing and other martial arts, and they have boasted publicly of their violence during rallies — not just in Charlottesville, but in the California cities of Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley, as well. Many of the altercations have been captured on video.

The charges announced Tuesday are among a number of prosecutions to stem from the notorious Charlottesville gathering that resulted in two days of mayhem and the death of a young anti-racism activist. The charges brought today are unrelated to the death.

Local prosecutors have also brought charges against a handful of other participants in the Charlottesville rally, successfully convicting several men, including activists on both sides of the clashes. And federal authorities have indicted neo-Nazi James Alex Fields, the man accused of killing counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring more than two dozen others, on some 30 charges, including 28 counts of hate crime.

“This case should serve as another example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting the life, liberty and civil rights of all our citizens,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said Tuesday. “Any individual who has or plans to travel to this district with the intent to engage in acts of violence will be prosecuted and held accountable for those actions.”

Cullen cited ProPublica and Frontline’s reporting during a news conference Tuesday.

“The news organization ProPublica did in my view a fantastic job in piecing together some of the organized activities that occurred on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, and the work that they did was certainly reviewed by our office as a starting point to understand a little bit about this particular group,” he said.

One of those arrested, Miselis, was a doctoral student at UCLA with a U.S. government security clearance to work on sensitive research for a prominent defense contractor. He was let go by the contractor, Northrop Grumman, after ProPublica and Frontline identified him as a RAM member who had attacked people in Charlottesville. At the time, Miselis denied involvement in the violent weekend two summers ago.

RAM was founded in early 2017 by Robert Rundo, a Queens, New York, native who served an 18-month prison sentence for stabbing a rival gang member six times during a 2009 street fight. The group’s core membership is small — 15 to 20 young men, according to interviews and a review of court records. Before joining RAM, several members spent time in jail or state prison on serious felony charges including assault, robbery, and gun and knife offenses. Daley served seven days in jail for carrying a concealed snub-nosed revolver. Another RAM member served a prison term for stabbing a Latino man five times in a 2009 gang assault.

A RAM recruiting video posted to YouTube and Vimeo highlights the organization’s heavy emphasis on violence, cutting between choppy footage of RAM members brawling at public events and carefully shot scenes of them sharpening their boxing skills and doing push-ups during group workout sessions.

RAM members are frequently praised as heroes on some white supremacist media outlets

The group portrays itself as a defense force for a white Western civilization under assault by Jews, Muslims and brown-skinned immigrants from south of the Rio Grande. At rallies, members have waved red-and-white crusader flags and carried signs saying “Rapefugees Not Welcome” and “Da Goyim Know,” an anti-Semitic slogan meant to highlight a supposed conspiracy by Jews to control the globe and subjugate non-Jews. One RAM banner, which depicts knights on horseback chasing after Muslims, reads “Islamists Out!”

ProPublica interviewed one RAM leader last year on the condition of anonymity. He said the gang came together organically. It started when he encountered a few other guys with similar political beliefs, including two active-duty U.S. Marines, while exercising at different gyms in Southern California. They all liked President Donald Trump but didn’t think his agenda went far enough.

On social media channels, RAM members regularly espouse blatantly anti-Semitic and racist views. They have repeatedly been booted from Instagram and Twitter for offensive postings.

This year, four RAM members attended to a massive neo-Nazi rally in Germany, which was held on Hitler’s birthday, uploading photos and videos from the trip to social media.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Tuesday cited the group’s racist and anti-Semitic postings online in support of the arrests.

Prosecutors said the four men will be brought to Virginia next week to be arraigned on the charges.

It was not clear on Tuesday whether the men had yet retained lawyers.

“This wasn’t in our view the lawful exercise of First Amendment rights,” Cullen said. “These guys came to Charlottesville to commit violent acts, and this wasn’t the first time they’ve done it.”

Cullen said that charging the men with inciting a riot and conspiracy to incite a riot was more appropriate and likely effective than arresting them on hate crime charges.

Cullen said there are other ongoing investigations, but he would not say more about them.

There’s a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who has done nothing else but look into these investigations since Aug. 12, according to Cullen.

“We’re not finished,” Cullen said. “We’re going to continue these investigations until we reach a point where we’re satisfied that our federal interests have been vindicated.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Charlottesville A Year Later






After Report, Northrop Grumman Fires Violent Neo-Nazi Engineer
Death in Charlottesville

As the nation moves away from the most horrific example of white supremacy we have witnessed in decades, we are finding the extent to which the tragedy affected and continues to affect some very many people.

WTOP dot com's Neal Augenstein recently published a piece about a US Marine forced out of the military due to his involvement in the Charlottesville, Virginia Torch Light protest support for a Confederate general statue.

WTOP dot com's Neal Augenstein It is interesting the racist at the four-second mark in the video has fizzled down into a shamed felon for his use of Pepper-Spray. 
White nationalist arrested again, faces charges unrelated to ...
Baltimore man among 3 more charged in Charlottesville, Va., white ...
These men have suffered greatly as a result of their involvement in the nation's most horrific anti-Semite and Anti-Civil Rights protest emanating form support for a Confederate leader statue. their suffering is well deserved while standing as an indictment of the local authorities police department. A department which stood by as the racist clashed with the Anti-fascists, ANTIFA, and may have taken a hands-off as some individuals were mercilessly beaten.
Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville —

ProPublica
Before moving to a ProPublica followup piece take a moment, to remind yourself,, the Tiki-Torch racists were not a herd of undereducated dimwits. One Ph.D. UCLA engineering student employed by Northrup Grumman Corporation lost his job after being identified as such...

  
 

Another intriguing and sad aspect of the protest march and the Anti-Jewish chant; the Confederate general or confederate leader didn't; go down in US history as an Anti-Semite. 
Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.


For Charlottesville Authorities, a Painful Post-Mortem on Preparedness

On Aug. 2, 2017, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer convened a closed meeting of the City Council. The Unite the Right rally was days off, and Signer was concerned about how to manage the potential for trouble. The Virginia State Police were there. So, too, was the chief of the Charlottesville Police Department.

Signer and the council members asked the law enforcement officers present directly: Was there a “specific, credible threat” of violence?

There was none, the elected officials said they were told.

Mayhem, of course, ensued some 10 days later, as marches by white supremacists turned bloody and left a 32-year-old woman dead. The violence set off a national political firestorm, and also a great deal of soul-searching by the city of Charlottesville.

Months later, a 200-page independent review of law enforcement’s handling of the rally excoriated the local and state police for failing to intervene earlier and more effectively to limit the bloodshed.

Buried deeper in the report, however, was a detailed account of the intelligence shortcomings that left the police poorly prepared for what was to come, including the Aug. 2 meeting. Those at the meeting considered relocating the rally, the account reveals, thinking it might be safer away from Emancipation Park, site of the disputed statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. But they didn’t, based on advice from police — and specifically from Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas.

“Council asked the law enforcement officers about imminent danger, but received no information suggesting a ‘specific, credible threat of violence,’” the report said. “Chief Thomas told us that the information presented to the Council did not, in his view, meet the threshold that would justify moving the event.”

Signer, in a recent interview with ProPublica and Frontline, said he never actually saw security plans for the event until weeks after the fatal rally.

“I wish that we had known more. I wish that we had been given more information by the state intelligence apparatus,” Signer said.

Asked if the police had indicated that white supremacists would come heavily armed to the marches on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 — some marchers had guns, clubs and pepper spray, among other weapons — Signer said, simply, “No.”
In an effort to better understand how that could be, ProPublica and Frontline spoke with a researcher hired by a federal agency in the months before Charlottesville to collect information on the aims and activities of white supremacist groups, dozens of which would ultimately make their way to Charlottesville. The researcher, who has decades of experience in law enforcement, would only speak on the condition that his name would not be used because of his ongoing intelligence and undercover work for the government. He said he filed reports roughly every two weeks from January to August 2017 chronicling what he said was clear evidence that extremists on the right and left were destined to meet violently.

Those reports, he said, were shared with the federal agency that hired him, and he believes, made their way to the local authorities.

“Because of the length of time that the groups had to organize, the extent of their networking, and the logistics in question, there were concerns expressed to law enforcement agencies about the potential for violence,” the intelligence researcher told ProPublica and Frontline in an interview last week.

He would not name the specific agency he worked for or give us copies of the reports he says he submitted. What became of his work is hard to determine. Shortly after the rally, there were published reports that offer support for his claim: The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI had warned the state and Charlottesville police of the potential for violence.

Politico reported late in August 2017 that the Department of Homeland Security had issued a confidential warning to law enforcement authorities three days before the deadly Aug. 12 Charlottesville protest rally. It warned that “an escalating series of clashes had created a powder keg “likely to ignite in Charlottesville. An earlier report that month by Foreign Policy magazine said the FBI and DHS had warned the Trump administration back in May.
“We assess lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year,” said the bulletin, which was titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence.”.

The independent review done in Charlottesville does not resolve the question of how and why federal warnings were not heeded by local police. But it makes clear failings on the front end (inadequate intelligence on potential threats) made the failings that came later (inexplicable restraint in the face of bloodshed) all the more likely.

“The planning and coordination breakdowns prior to August 12 produced disastrous results,” the report said.

The report said the Virginia State Police would not cooperate with investigators, and faulted Thomas for trying to limit the participation of officials in his department.

Contacted this week, the State Police said they did the best they could a year ago. The local police had nothing more to say.

Thomas, the CPD chief, retired shortly after the release of the independent report. Thomas, through his lawyer, declined to discuss his performance, including his determination that no “specific, credible” threat of violence surfaced prior to the rally.

ProPublica and Frontline had sent a series of questions to the FBI about its intelligence on white supremacist groups and why the information the bureau developed did not seem to result in better preparedness.

The FBI issued a statement in response.

“The FBI investigates activity which may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security, and cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or exercise of First Amendment rights. We remain committed to protecting those rights for all Americans.”

The statement added that, “the FBI takes seriously all acts or threats of violence and is committed to investigating crimes that are potentially bias-motivated.”

In pages upon pages of fault-finding, the review offers a painstaking chronology of local law enforcement’s struggle to obtain useful intelligence in the weeks leading up to the Unite the Right weekend.

In May, there had been two tense days in Charlottesville involving white supremacists and protesters who challenged them. There was no violence and few arrests, but Thomas told investigators for the independent report that the events amounted to an “operational blind spot” for his department, which had failed to see the potential for trouble in advance.

Thomas and his department had another chance to improve its intelligence when the Ku Klux Klan held a march in Charlottesville on July 8. Thomas said he authorized the purchase of more sophisticated technology capable of “pinpointing potential threats based on social media activity.” He also assigned a captain to oversee the intelligence gathering, but wound up disappointed with the first results of the effort, according to the report.

There was no estimate of how many people would show up; no criminal histories for any of the likely marchers were compiled, and scant information was gathered about the anticipated tactics of the Klan marchers or their expected opponents. The department also had failed to reach out to other jurisdictions that had a history of dealing with Klan gatherings, the report said.

The Charlottesville Police Department’s blind spot, Thomas conceded, had remained so.

There also had been next to no training for officers handling the march.

“CPD’s training efforts to prepare for the Klan event were fragmented, unfocused, and inadequate,” the report concluded.

It showed. The Klan came and went without great incident, but hundreds of protesters who had shown up to confront the marchers swarmed the streets. Groups of officers got separated. More than 20 arrests were made. An officer was spit on. The Virginia State Police and the Charlottesville Police Department used different radio channels for communication, and the state police deployed tear gas without proper authorization.

“You are damn right I gassed them; it needed to be done,” a state police official told Thomas, according to the independent review. The police, he said, were “under attack.”

Seth Wispelwey, a local religious leader, said it seemed as if city leaders and law enforcement “didn’t know what they were doing,” according to the report.
Thomas and his department recommitted to doing a better job with the Unite the Right rally looming. Individual detectives were assigned to research groups on the right and the left that were likely to attend. But this appears to have amounted to not much more than reading old news articles and trying to reach the group leaders to determine their intentions, according to the report.

The report says CPD got some input from “outside agencies and groups.” It lists a police chief in Pikeville, Ky., where there had been a recent rally; an investigator at the Anti-Defamation League; and the FBI’s field office in Richmond, Va. The threat assessments warned that white supremacists were likely to bring bats, batons, knives and firearms, and that anti-racist militants would respond with soda cans filled with cement, bottles filled with urine or fuel, and pepper spray.

How that failed to qualify as a “specific, credible” threat of violence is unclear. But the report makes clear the authorities didn’t believe they had what they needed to try and move or cancel the rally.

“Council was told that generalized threats of violence, promises to use violence in self-defense, and information that counter-protesters planned to use violence….were insufficient,” the report said.

But the full report contains virtually no mention of an intelligence tool typically vital for such events: confidential informants inside extremist groups on both sidesused, such intelligence assets.

William Long, a former FBI agent who retired in 2014, said there were clearly breakdowns in intelligence gathering and sharing in Charlottesville. He spent many years of his career investigating white supremacist groups in the Western United States, probes that routinely relied on the use of informants. He finds it hard to believe the FBI and others didn’t have multiple informants within the groups, both before Charlottesville and after.

“People in this movement, many times they are ripe for development as informants,” Long said. “They’re people who are looking to belong to something. Some of them are overtly racist and believe what they’re spewing. Others are not, they’re weak-minded followers that fall in because others will accept them. There are people in neo-Nazi and white supremacist movement that will mature, realize, hey, my friends are going to prison, I’m going nowhere in life and I’m tired of sleeping on someone’s couch. If you can catch them at the right time, when you get them realizing that this is stupid, you can knock it out of the park.”

He acknowledged that developing intelligence through human sources was far more challenging than tracking material on the Internet, which seems to have been the chief approach taken by local authorities.

“Developing informants who are going to the training sessions with groups, for example, is a whole different thing,” Long said. “You have to make a real effort to either recruit people who are already on the inside, or recruit a capable person with credentials to get there, and once you vet them, move them into that position where you want them, where they’re most useful — that takes some experience and skill to do that. The bureau does emphasize that. Whether it’s being done expertly, across the board, I don’t know.”

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