A black activist who served almost six months in federal custody because of the FBI has been released.
Christopher Daniels, better known as Rakem Balogun, believed the FBI targeted him as a part of its new government classification “black identity extremists (BIE),” according to a report from The Guardian. The classification is defined as someone who resorts to violence or unlawful activities “in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society.”
The classification, which became known last year via Foreign Policy magazine, was criticized and compared to J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO program targeting domestic political organizations between 1956 and 1971.
The FBI first started investigating Daniels in 2015 after he attended a rally protesting against law enforcement in Austin, Texas. Two years later, he was arrested in an early-morning raid on his apartment and indicted for unlawful possession of a firearm. Because of a prior conviction he received for domestic assault in Tennessee in 2007, the government claimed Daniels wasn’t allowed to own a firearm.
During a court testimony, special agents accused Daniels of being a threat to law enforcement and an illegal gun owner.
As The Guardian reports:
“[Special agent Aaron Keighley] mentioned Balogun’s Facebook posts calling a murder suspect in a police officer’s death a ‘hero’ and expressing ‘solidarity’ with the man who killed officers in Texas when he posted: ‘They deserve what they got.'”
Keighley also referenced the anti-police statements that were made at the rally in Austin, although he didn’t make any mention of Daniels’ specific actions at the event. He also later admitted that the FBI had no evidence of Daniels making any specific threats about harming police. The Guardian also notes that even though Daniels was never publicly labeled a BIE, authorities’ language in court resembled the warnings in the FBI’s file.
Still, he remained incarcerated until early May when a district court in Texas determined that he wasn’t prohibited from owning a firearm.
Even though he’s now free, Daniels believes that he will remain under FBI surveillance.
Source: The Guardian