In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU said Thursday that FBI analysts have linked criminal behaviors with certain racial and ethnic groups, and subsequently have used U.S. Census data and other demographic information to help map criminal patterns as a basis for federal investigations.
“The FBI is illegally and unconstitutionally targeting innocent Americans for investigation based upon their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and political activities protected under the First Amendment,” the ACLU letter to Holder reads.
As an example, the ACLU pointed to the FBI using the information that San Francisco was home to one of the oldest and largest ethnic Chinese populations outside of China to justify opening an investigation into longstanding organized crime activities within that community. They also found that the bureau cited an increase in Georgia’s Black population as a reason to watch that area for potential threats from Black separatist groups.
The ACLU gathered the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and urged the attorney general to put an immediate end to what the organization calls, “unconstitutional practices.” The group has also posted an online petition asking the Justice Dept. to limit FBI intelligence-gathering to “true threats” and not “suspicion without evidence.”
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