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FBI had undercover agents monitoring Portland Antifa protests

Officials in charge said their focus is on "violent instigators who exploit legitimate, peaceful protests and engage in violations of federal law."

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Nick Monroe Cleveland Ohio
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A new report says that the FBI has had people on the ground in places like Portland that have had a regular series of riots in recent years. The revelation has some asking about the legitimacy of "Feds" being among Antifa groups, in the same vein of inquiry being asked about the Capitol riot in DC.

During "J20" (Inauguration Day 2021), Portland and Seattle Antifa seized the moment with street-side protesting. Their message was essentially that activist dissatisfaction would continue to fester despite Trump losing the White House.

"We are ungovernable" read one sign amidst the group of Portland Antifa numbering around a couple hundred in total.

In a story first published by The New York Times (but free without paywall via The Seattle Times), the outlet confirms that FBI and federal law enforcement were conducting surveillance in real time.

The outlet says at least four federal agents have since been involved in testimony against rioters they followed during the demonstration. This after securing their arrests at the time for property damage or other violent crimes.

It also involved situations directly around November 2020 election time. According to the Times report, an undercover FBI agent was this Starbucks "in a plainclothes surveillance capacity."  The Starbucks has smashed windows was doused with flammable liquid.

Special agent Renn Cannon was involved with the FBI’s monitoring of Portland protests throughout 2020 and until he left earlier on in 2021, and he acknowledged the ethical concerns about monitoring protected First Amendment rights.

"I thought a lot about what is allowed under the Constitution. How do you do surveillance effectively, safely and legally? That was something we spent a lot of time on," Cannon told the outlet.

Federal authorities collected their bearings after former President Trump demanded that kind of manpower during the Summer 2020 siege of Portland’s federal courthouse.

The current public discourse surrounding January 6 has people debating how much involvement federal law enforcement had in the events that transpired that day. While the FBI found "scant evidence" of central coordination of a meaningful effort to overturn the 2020 election results – informants mingled among right-wing activists feeding information back to the agency.

"At all times, our focus was on those planning or committing significant criminal activity or acts of violence," said Kiernan L. Ramsey, currently in charge of the FBI's Portland branch.

The ebb and flow of the criminal justice system means that while cops might arrest over 1000 people, that narrows down to "more than 200 people" facing charges, but with another half of those cases being dropped because of a lack of evidence, per the report.

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