In chilling news, members of an FBI anti-terror squad are investigating opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The FBI won’t comment on the matter.
News accounts say that members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) are knocking on the doors of water protectors and asking questions. These task forces are “our nation’s front line on terrorism: small cells of highly trained, locally based, passionately committed investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” its website says. They are based in 104 cities around the country.
Door knocking might seem innocuous to some. But how would you feel if one of these anti-terrorism experts came knocking on your door and started asking you questions about your activities, but wouldn’t say why? Now think about how that would feel to water protectors who already had experienced a hyper-militarized response to their actions, such as water cannons, mace, or rubber bullets. This surely would feel intimidating. Being labeled a suspected terrorist carries high stigma and the risk of a long incarceration. It could be a scare tactic to silence legitimate protest.