What follows is a blow by blow account from antifascists in South Carolina about a recent wave of repression and house raids by FBI agents after neo-Nazis issued complains of supposed harassment.
Below is a statement written by No Repression SC, a coalition of folx organizing in response to increasing state repression in the area. To support folx facing charges and stay updated on their case, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit @norepressionsc on Instagram, and check out No Repression SC. To donate to support their legal costs, check out https://gf.me/u/smdgfg. The targeted activists are raising $5,000 for their legal and other defense expenses.
We are witnessing collusion between the State and known white supremacists in Greenville, South Carolina. The level of federal involvement in what would typically be a local case is disturbing. The FBI and local police are harassing people in attempts to make arrests related to alleged conspiracy, malicious damage, stalking, and harassment of local white supremacists.
“We are witnessing collusion between the State and known white supremacists in Greenville, South Carolina.”
Thus far, one person has had their home searched and was charged with felony 1st degree harassment. Another home was searched in December 2018, and yet another person had their vehicle searched. The targeted activists are raising $5,000 for their legal and other defense expenses. Additional funds are also requested to assist one of these activists with relocation due to the fallout of these events. They could also use court support and assistance with fundraising. These activists want others who are organizing against white supremacy to know the lengths the state is going to in order to stop this work and want to encourage others to be careful and secure in their communications and actions.
Fall 2018: A local white supremacist went to Person A’s place of employment, demanding Person A’s personal information.
On or before 12/27/18: FBI (Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF]) and local police searched Person A’s vehicle.
12/27/18: FBI (JTTF) and local police raided Person B’s home.
1/16/19: Three people (Persons B, C, and D) received notices from Facebook that access to their Facebook accounts was granted to the police.
3/27/19: FBI (JTTF) and local police confronted Person E at work in an attempt to persuade the resident to answer questions.
4/10/19: Two people (Persons F and G) received notice from Facebook that access to their accounts was granted to the police.
4/24/19: FBI (JTTF) and local police raided Person C’s home. She was arrested and charged with felony 1st degree harassment.
Description of Events, From Most Recent to the Beginning:
Date of Visit: 4/24/19
Time of Visit: 6:45 AM
Name of Identified FBI Agents: John Kuppinger and Tanya LNU (last name unknown)
Person C was startled out of bed by a knock on the door. Her son ran toward the door, thinking the knock was the babysitter. When Person C opened the door, she discovered 5+ police officers in vests with weapons on their person. There were 5 police vehicles outside the home. The officers advised that they had a warrant to search the premises. Person C was naked and asserted that she wanted to put clothes on and then shut the door. The officer then stated that the door had to be open “for safety” and proceeded to come in with all of the other police and agents.
Person C asserted that she wanted to inspect the warrant to make sure it was signed by a judge. An officer stated that she could see it after the search was completed. Person C refused entry and demanded to see the warrant again. The officer quickly flipped through the warrant to show the signatures. Person C was then informed that there was also a warrant for her arrest, that she must hand over her phone, and that she should get dressed to go to jail.
Person C sent her son to a family member’s home. Officers searched her home while two FBI agents isolated her in her room, where they asked questions, including, to the best of her memory:
- Do you identify as antifa?
- Are there any weapons here?
- Would you know the complaining witnesses if you saw them?
- Would anyone in “your crew” have gone astray and thrown dead animals in the complaining witnesses’ yard?
- Did you know that there were dead animals thrown in these people’s yards?
- Do you recognize this vehicle?
- Why didn’t you report being stabbed by a white nationalist to the police?
- What about [previous dismissed and unrelated charges]?
- [Tanya, the FBI agent:] “Do I look like I’m friends with Nazis?”
- Where do you work?
The actions and statements of the cops and FBI agents made it clear that the agents were carrying out a search and arrest warrant as part of an investigation into alleged anti-fascist activity in the area. The cops asserted that they believed that Person C had information about a criminal complaint in which dead animals were thrown in a complaining witnesses’ yard. The complaining witnesses in question are known white supremacists who publicly identify as Nazis and friends of the Klan.
“The complaining witnesses in question are known white supremacists who publicly identify as Nazis and friends of the Klan.”
The agents also made statements indicating that they thought Person C was “in charge” of other activists. The agents stated that they had access to Person C’s Google and Facebook accounts and proceeded to describe photos, etc. The agents also advised that they had her geographic information from obtaining access to her Facebook and Google accounts (It seems that they were referring to data collected by those websites versus check-ins or more sophisticated surveillance like having put a tracking device on her car, actively monitoring her movements based on GPS, etc.)
The agents stated that they knew she was “tech savvy” and told her she should work for them because she knew about white nationalist movements. The agents advised that they were aware that Person A tipped Person C off to the investigation via Facebook. One agent, Tanya, offered Person C a ride home from jail and advised her not to tell anyone the agents were at the home. The agents also showed Person C blurry photos of vehicles and advised that the vehicles belonged to people she knew. Person C did not identify either vehicle for them. The agents advised Person C that she could not post publicly available information or encourage people to call a person’s job(s) just because the person publicly identified themselves as a Nazi and friend of the Klan. Person C provided no information about the investigation.
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We are raising money for activists here in Upstate SC who have been targeted by the state and Nazis. Two homes have been searched, one arrest has been made, and multiple instances of door knocks and questioning by local police and the FBI have occurred. A statement is forthcoming. Please check out the link in our bio to donate and/or share to help these awesome folx pay their defense costs. #Solidarity ✊
The search warrant for Person C’s home stated that the search was seeking any of the following:
-posters, fliers, stickers, buttons, clothing, logos, symbols, membership cards, or other items with a political or ideological basis or nexus to the group Upstate ARA (Anti-Racist Action), “Black Lives Matter,” “Upstate SC Antifa,” “Nazi,” “National Socialist Movement,” “Neo-Nazi,” or any similarly derived group name.
-any material made of, or with references to, “Nazi” ideology, “Southern Heritage” ideology, confederate flags, or “Black Bloc.”
-any material with references to the complaining witnesses’ employer, address, Facebook accounts, or other electronic communications made by or to the complaining witnesses.
-nails, marbles, mouse traps, and items used for capturing, holding, transport, or care of animals.
-anything pertaining to the investigation of Conspiracy, Malicious Damage, and Harassment.
The items taken from Person C’s home and vehicle were printouts of memes, a rainbow sticker that said, “stop fascism,” her son’s desktop computer, and her phone (which has still not been returned and is needed for her job).
Person C was then taken to jail, where she remained until 11 PM that night. She was kept in a holding cell with nine other individuals throughout the day and came home extremely sick. Despite earlier statements from the police in which they claimed the charge was a misdemeanor, Person C was ultimately charged with felony harassment and had a $15,000 bond. During her bond hearing, the judge allowed the complaining witnesses time to speak, during which they accused Person C of committing various crimes.
During this hearing, Person C claimed that she had no knowledge of these activities. She had no representation and is aware that she shouldn’t have said anything more than asserting her right to remain silent.
Upon arriving home, Person C’s ride was blocked in her driveway by a large, white Ford truck with three white men inside. The men inside the truck each had their phones out, pointing them at Person C and her son. They remained behind her ride for several minutes and then sped off into the night.
Persons F and G received notifications that a warrant was issued for their Facebook accounts.
Date of Visit: 3/27/19
Time of Visit: 11:30 AM
Name of Identified FBI Agent: John Kuppinger
Agent Kuppinger of the FBI confronted Person E at work. He was accompanied by a local detective and tried to persuade Person E to talk with them. Person E believes he was targeted because he is partnered to a Person G. The agent showed the resident photos of vehicles, including his own vehicle as well as his home, and questioned his knowledge of specific people and events. The agents told the resident that they were investigating a crime related to animal harm, and that they would soon be questioning his partner as well. Agent Kuppinger then stated that “someone would go down for assaulting an animal, which is a felony.” Person E did not answer any questions. As of the time of this writing, his partner has not responded to their request for questioning.
Person H received notification that a warrant was issued for their Facebook account.
Persons B and C received notifications that a warrant was issued for their Facebook accounts.
Date of Visit: 12/27/18
Time of Visit: Early Morning
Name of Identified FBI Agents: John Kuppinger and Tanya LNU (last name unknown)
Law enforcement knocked on Person B’s door in upstate SC. Unclothed, she cracked the door to see who it was, at which point one officer roughly pushed his way into her home. He immediately handcuffed her while 20 to 30 more officers poured into the home. To the best of her knowledge, Person B remembers that the officers yelled at her and asked if she knew people she did not recognize, what she did for a living, if she knew about Southern Heritage, or ARA. Person B’s neighbors were able to see her being treated in this manner while naked. The officers showed her pictures of her trans sibling, misgendered them, and said they were “coming for her next.” They then threw her onto the couch, and finally covered her with a thin sheet.
Throughout most of the search, Person B was alone and naked with 20 to 30 male officers. After Person B was covered up, a woman who identified herself as an FBI agent named Tanya sat down to talk to her. Tanya told Person B that she was friends with the complaining witnesses, who are known white supremacists.
“[FBI Agent] Tanya [said] that she was friends with the complaining witnesses, who are known white supremacists.”
Between 20-30 law enforcement agents searched her home for approximately three hours. They seized all electronics, along with a list of other random items, and left. They also accused her of having a cat in a cage until she advised them that it was her daughter’s pet rabbit. No arrest was made. Person B did not answer any questions or identify any objects or people.
When she asked to see the warrant, she was advised by the officers that she could see it when they finished searching the home. She did not see the warrant until she was given a copy as they were leaving. The warrant cited “Conspiracy against Civil Rights.”
Date of Visit: On or Before 12/27/18
Time of Visit: Unknown
Name of Identified FBI Agents: Unknown
Person A was visited by police and federal agents. They searched her vehicle and asked her questions. We do not know what was asked. We only know that the person claims that she did not answer any questions.
Date of Visit: Several months before 12/27/18
Time of Visit: Unknown
Name of Identified FBI Agents: None
A known white supremacist came to Person A’s job and demanded that her employer provide her name and other personal information, stating that there was an investigation. The white supremacist did not say what the investigation was about. This frightened Person A and other employees. Person A’s employer was concerned for her safety and has since had her escorted to her car after her shifts.
Implications for Antifascists:
As with all instances of state repression, we cannot know everything that the FBI/cops are doing behind the scenes, and we are left with many questions about what their harassment and targeting can tell us about what they are really up to. We don’t want to speculate about what their goals are, and we encourage others not to speculate or sink into paranoia. However, there are already many concerning aspects of this case that have implications for anyone involved in antifascist organizing.
This case is still in the early stages. There’s a chance that we will learn more in the future and will be able to fill in more blanks about how the FBI is working with local cops and white supremacists to target antifascists. For now, we want to point to a few areas of concern: overt collusion between FBI/JTTF and local law enforcement, overt collusion between Nazis and law enforcement, and an FBI agent stating that she is friends with Nazis.
It’s nothing new that the FBI works with local and state police. Yet in every interaction in this case so far, the FBI/JTTF and local cops have been working hand-in-hand to target activists in ways that are clearly connected to the recent state-level charges of felony 1st degree harassment. The charges have been filed in the state court, but FBI Agent John Kuppinger is listed in the court docket as the officer assigned to the case. Why is this collusion happening? Why is the FBI so directly involved in state-level charges? There could be many answers in this particular case and perhaps we’ll learn some over time.
Antifascists elsewhere should be aware that other FBI/JTTF agents may be working with local law enforcement to conduct similar investigations and to file similar charges. Although this mechanism of repression is different than a national campaign against antifa and something like the Green Scare, the FBI involvement suggests that this is not an isolated case being led by local cops with ties to white supremacists.
The overt collusion between Nazis and cops/FBI is also not new (“Cops and Klan go Hand in Hand,” right?), but the directness of this collusion thus far is notable. The complaining witnesses being present at Person C’s first court appearance after being arrested suggests direct and timely communication between the cops/FBI and the complaining witnesses, if not advanced planning to ensure they would be in court.
The presence of three white men in a Ford truck when Person C returned home from jail also suggests communication and coordination beyond the complaining witnesses and the agents involved in these incidents, although it’s unclear whether this coordination was between white supremacists or the agents and white supremacists other than the complaining witnesses. The South obviously has a long history of direct and indirect involvement of white supremacists in law enforcement activity, so this is not surprising even though it is clearly concerning for how the case might be prosecuted and for the personal safety of the targeted activists.
It is similarly concerning that the FBI agent who has thus far only been identified as “Tanya” stated that she is friends with white supremacists (although she later asked if she looked like she would be friends with people like that, as if to refute a claim made about her rather than something she herself said). Although FBI agents being white supremacists, being sympathetic to them, or having direct ties to them should not be surprising to anyone, an agent stating this about herself is unusual and brings up questions about how deep those ties go and how personal this instance of state repression is.
These observations lead to many questions whose answers would help us better understand exactly what is going on and exactly how concerning this case should be to antifascists everywhere. Even in the absence of clear answers, this case has already demonstrated how dangerous these ties between white supremacists and law enforcement can be for all of us, and why we must show solidarity in the face of this repression.
If You Are Approached by the FBI:
Asserting your right to remain silent is always the safest thing to do. It is crucial to remember that saying anything other than “I am going to remain silent” to the FBI is dangerous and even seemingly innocuous statements may be held against you and others. Remember that lying to an agent is a federal offense. In order to avoid potentially endangering yourself or your friends, the safest response is to assert your right to remain silent.
As of now, we know the FBI are collecting information using the following:
- Contacting family in person;
- Contacting people’s employers;
- Contacting individuals by showing up at their homes; and talking to other people in the home at the time of the visit;
- Tracking messages on Facebook pages/groups;
- Tracking messages sent on Facebook’s messenger;
- Tracking affiliations through Facebook.
Understanding how the FBI is likely to contact you or people in your community will help better prepare you if the FBI inquires about you or someone you know.
We realize that, historically, intelligence gathering campaigns are started in order to cause disruptions and panic within our communities. We must respond to this latest round of FBI harassment by supporting each other, and not by speculating about the nature of the FBI’s investigation.
In the coming days and months, we strongly encourage anyone who is visited by the FBI or other agents to insist on your right to remain silent. Even the most seemingly innocuous information can help the government further repress our movements. By refusing to cooperate with political fishing expeditions and by exposing the FBI’s harassment, we can build support and solidarity among our various communities.
We highly encourage everyone to speak with friends, family, housemates, and partners about what to do if the FBI knocks on the door or calls by phone. These conversations should still be conducted through safer communications such as encrypted messaging or in-person meetings. We suggest that you do not use social media forums to share this information.
If you, or anyone you know, is ever visited by the FBI or other law enforcement agents:
- Say only: “I am going to remain silent. Give me your card and a lawyer will contact you.”
- Contact your nearest National Lawyers Guild chapter to let them know about the encounter. If you are in South Carolina, you can contact the NLG’s RVP for the Southern Region at: email@example.com
- We encourage you to broadly spread word of your experience, which will alert other activists.
If the FBI or other law enforcement agents want to conduct a search:
- Say, “I do not consent to a search.”
- You may inform them that, if they leave a card, a lawyer may contact them. You can then ask them to leave, or you can simply close the door.
- If they do have a warrant, you may ask them to slide it under the door or mail slot.
- You may want to take a picture of the warrant and send it to a lawyer; Signal is a secure and encrypted messaging app you can use: https://signal.org.
- You can assert that you wish to consult with a lawyer before consenting to a search. This may not stop them from entering.
- Before they enter, you may wish to shut down electronics, move anything you wish to keep private from plain sight, and close all doors. The warrant may not apply to the entire house.
- Anything in plain sight that obviously appears illegal or evidence of a crime may be seized.
If FBI or other law enforcement agents have a subpoena:
Agents who come to your home with a subpoena are not legally entitled to enter unless you give them permission. Unless they have a warrant, they cannot come inside to search for anyone or anything named in the subpoena. The best way to assert that they do not have permission is to declare, “I do not consent to a search.”
Understand that the above action steps will not prevent law enforcement agencies from breaking the law or outright prevent them from entering your home. As many of us know and have experienced, law enforcement agencies act outside of the law frequently and there is little that can be done to prevent such incursions should law enforcement act outside of the law. However, should you end up in court, taking the above steps could likely help your case.
More information on resisting political repression:
- If an Agents Knocks Booklet: https://ccrjustice.org/if-agent-knocks-booklet
- Know Your Rights Booklet: https://www.nlg.org/know-your-rights-english/
- When the Police Knock on Your Door: https://crimethinc.com/2017/08/24/when-the-police-knock-on-your-door-your-rights-and-options-a-legal-guide-and-poster
- Resisting Grand Jury: http://grandjuryresistance.org/
- Grand Jury Resistance: http://resistgrandjuries.net
- A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant: https://tiltedscalescollective.org
For More Information on encrypted communications:
- Security Self Defense: https://ssd.eff.org/en
- Signal, encrypted messaging: https://signal.org
- Riseup, email stored in encrypted accounts and no-logs VPN (Virtual Private Network): https://riseup.net
- Protonmail, encrypted email communication: https://protonmail.com
No Repression SC