The Minneapolis NAACP has filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis alleging that police officers created fake social media accounts to spy on activists without legitimate concerns for public safety, CBS News reported.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, claims that the MPD used discriminatory practices against the NAACP and violated its members’ constitutional rights by targeting the nation’s oldest civil rights organization “on the basis of race” according to findings from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) report.
“We assumed that our work with MPD on public safety and community matters was being done in good faith,” Cynthia Wilson, President of the Minneapolis NAACP, said at a news conference. “Instead, MPD simultaneously tried to bring us harm. To know MPD surveilled our members is deeply unnerving and upsetting. Their actions violated our trust. MPD needs to be held accountable to prevent this from happening to anyone else."
Liliana Zaragoza, attorney for the NAACP and director of the University of Minnesota’s Racial Justice Law Clinic told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “These are accounts that are supposed to be used for official investigations. There were none.”
“We don’t how sinister this is,” Zaragoza continued.
One example cited by the MDHR’s report revealed that an undercover officer RSVP’d to an event for Nekima Levy Armstrong who was running for mayor at the time.
"They showed up at my birthday party unannounced, in uniform, multiple officers," Armstrong recalled. "They were attempting to intimidate and harass us."
"It was very upsetting, and it was traumatizing," she continued. "We need officers to act with integrity and transparency."
While Black activists and political leaders were under tight surveillance on social media, the MDHR discovered that their white counterparts weren’t being as closely monitored.
“Our findings are correct,” Lucero explained. “MPD uses covert social media to target Black leaders, Black organizations, and elected officials without a public safety objective. That remains true.”
In the suit, the NAACP is looking for a declaratory judgment “that MPD's social media use was unconstitutional and compensation for injuries.”