Black Lives Matter activist Rakem Balogun (real name Christopher Daniels) was subjected to a no-knock, late-night FBI raid based on a video from Alex Jones’ InfoWars.
According to The Guardian, who spoke to Balogun following his release from jail after five months of incarceration without bail, the raid on his Dallas home happened in the middle of the night in 2015, with agents forcing Balogun and his son out in the cold in their underwear while they searched his home based on unfounded allegations of “domestic terrorism.”
“It’s tyranny at its finest,” Balogun told The Guardian. “I have not been doing anything illegal for them to have surveillance on me. I have not hurt anyone or threatened anyone.”
FBI agents were reportedly investigating Balogun based on a video from a conspiracy site run by Austin, Texas-based Alex Jones, who has said the Sandy Hook massacre was “a giant hoax.” According to sworn testimony from FBI special agent Aaron Keighley, investigators learned of a 2015 anti-police protest in Austin that Balogun participated in by watching an InfoWars video about the event. Despite his libertarian stance against law enforcement overreach, Alex Jones has attacked Black Lives Matter on multiple occasions, once saying the group was “designed to destroy America.”
“They’re using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult,” Balogun said.
Balogun was active in the movement to protest police brutality, and advocated for the rights of black gun owners in his co-founding of the Huey P. Newton gun club — named after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. He also appears to be the first black activist ensnared in the FBI’s surveillance of so-called “black identity extremists,” (BIEs) which was first revealed in a leaked 2017 report confirming that federal investigators were monitoring black activists concerned with police brutality, at least since the Ferguson uprising of 2014. The FBI has apparently been surveilling BIEs in the same manner they monitor neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and sovereign citizen groups.
“The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement,” the report read. “The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology. The FBI has high confidence in these assessments, based on a history of violent incidents attributed to individuals who acted on behalf of their ideological beliefs, documented in FBI investigations and other law enforcement and open source reporting.”
However, legal expert and former FBI agent Michael German called his former employer’s definition of a BIE “extraordinarily overbroad.”
“It seems this effort was designed to punish him for his political activity rather than actually solve any sort of security issue,” German told The Guardian.
Even though Balogun was never convicted of any charges (he was only indicted on one count of illegal firearm prosecution), he nonetheless suffered major consequences from the FBI’s unsuccessful prosecution. Since his release, Balogun lost his home, his job, his vehicle, and missed out on the first year of his newborn daughter’s life while his son was forced to transfer schools.
“This has been a nightmare for my entire family,” Balogun said.
Multiple civil rights groups are suing the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in order to force the release of a document known as the “race paper,” which could provide additional context on the FBI’s monitoring and surveillance of black activists exercising their First Amendment rights.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.