On a daily basis Americans are inundated with vague wailing about Russian interference in American politics, always laced with the distinct impression that all of this alleged meddling was meant to help Donald Trump become president. Unfortunately for the conspiracy theorists, though, this next story throws a monkey wrench into that narrative, and raises further questions about what happened in Charlotte, North Carolina last year.
BuzzFeed News reports that the so-called “American Department” of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed company known as Russia’s biggest “troll farm” for stirring up controversy in the United States via internet PR campaigns, recruited at least four Americans to stage protests and other activities on behalf of … Black Lives Matter?
BuzzFeed’s Rosalind Adams and Hayes Brown spoke with four very left-wing Americans who say they were recruited by IRA operatives who posed as fellow American leftists to organize so-called “black rights protests” and teach self-defense classes:
One target was Micah White, a cofounder of Occupy Wall Street. When he was contacted in May 2016 by a man named Yan Big Davis, who presented himself as a freelance reporter, he didn’t think anything of it, since he often gave interviews about activism.
According to emails seen by BuzzFeed News, Davis said he was writing for a site called BlackMattersUS, which had over 200,000 followers and focused “mostly on racism and police brutality themes.” In its report, based on interviews with current and former employees of the troll farm as well as a source close to its leadership and internal documents, RBC found that BlackMattersUS was linked to the Internet Research Agency […]
Although the group’s main site is still live, its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts have been suspended. RBC said Facebook suspended the group’s account as part of a purge of 470 accounts run by the Internet Research Agency. Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News he was “not able to confirm” that the groups were suspended as part of the purge.
And another bizarre story:
Black Fist’s site says that the group teaches black communities self-defense, or as the Black Fist site put it, “organized by black for black.” The website is still up, though its Facebook and Instagram accounts have been suspended. The group did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment sent to the email address provided on its page. Facebook also declined to comment on Black Fist’s page being taken down.
“Be ready to protect your rights,” the site reads. “Let them know that Black Power Matters.”
One of the trainers listed on the Black Fist website, Omowale Adewale, says he was directly contacted by what he now knows to be the troll farm to hold courses in New York City […]
Soon there were two classes a week. Adewale said he was instructed by Taylor to take pictures and video of the sessions. He never spoke with any of the other four trainers listed on the site, he says, but became suspicious again when the people paying him began having trouble with Google Wallet, insisting that he switch to using PayPal.
That, combined with the fact that the group never discussed the politics that had drawn him in, caused Adewale to be leery.
As strange as all of this is, it’s not entirely new; CNN reported in September that the social media accounts of an online campaign called “Blacktivist” were also linked to the Kremlin, pushing BLM’s narrative on police shootings and mass incarceration.
So what’s the reason for all of this? Emboldening Black Lives Matter? Exploiting angry leftists to make some money? Sowing division among Russia’s enemies by increasing tensions on both sides to distract us? Amplifying BLM’s rhetoric to provoke a backlash from Trump supporters? (Liberals will no doubt pick the last one, but by that logic BLM itself is also a pro-Trump trick play.)
What do you think the answer to all of this is? Sound off below.
Hat tip: CBS3-WBTV