Black Lives Matter activists are claiming that FBI agents have contacted them in recent days and urged them to not protest at next week’s Republican convention in Cleveland.
The subject was brought up at a White House round-table meeting held on Wednesday by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.
According to The Washington Post, Mckesson urged President Obama, who moderated the discussion, to instruct the FBI to stop contacting activists ahead of next week’s convention.
Activists in Cleveland, San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis, and St. Louis have all told The Washington Post that they have been visited by FBI agents in recent days, which the activists consider an intimidation tactic.
One activist with Campaign Zero, the group co-founded by Mckesson, tweeted about a recent encounter he had with an FBI agent.
Samuel Sinyangwe, who is an activist with Campaign Zero, wrote that an agent visited his home in New York City earlier this week to discuss his plans for the GOP convention. Sinyangwe said that the visit was an intimidation tactic intended to keep him from protesting at the event.
According to The Post, the FBI says that the visits are part of a community outreach effort. The bureau did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
On Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey were asked about security plans for both the GOP and Democratic convention, though neither discussed visits to Black Lives Matter activists.
“I don’t want to talk about particular groups here but there is a concern anytime there’s an event like this that people from across a spectrum of radical groups will be attracted to it,” Comey said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.
Johnson said that he was “concerned about the prospect of demonstrations getting out of hand.”
More than 3,000 agents from across the Department of Homeland Security will be at both conventions, he added.
“There’s a certain level of First Amendment protected activity that is guaranteed to protesters,” he said, adding that protesters will be given a designated area to protest at convention sites.
Vicki Anderson, a special agent working in the FBI’s Cleveland division, provided comment after this article was published.
“To help prepare for the RNC, law enforcement is reaching out to people to request their assistance in helping our community host a safe and secure convention,” she told TheDC.
“The FBI is not singling out any one particular group; we are speaking to numerous groups with the same purpose in mind, maintaining an environment where all can assemble peacefully and exercise their right to free speech.”