Police around the country are on high alert—not because of the hate groups and Nazis that have made a sudden resurgence in domestic popularity, but because of the left-wing activists protesting against them. Thanks to a slip-up, the Massachusetts State Police Twitter account just underscored their law enforcement priorities.
While tweeting out a warning to the communities affected by the Boston gas explosions, the social media handler for the Massachusetts State Police took a screenshot of their desktop, which displayed a helpful map, without realizing the browser bookmarks were plainly visible to anyone that clicked on the image. They deleted it less than a half hour later and replaced it with a cropped image, but not before the some of the targeted activists noticed themselves in the toolbar.
There's Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump (COMBAT), Mass Action Against Police Brutality, Facebook 413, Facebook MA Activism, and a calendar of left-leaning public rallies. Though each of these groups is progressive and/or anti-Trump, some of them haven't even been active this year. One of the targeted groups, COMBAT, hasn't had a new post since November 2017, yet is still a credible enough target to the Massachusetts State Police that they literally keep tabs on them.
COMBAT's (admittedly lapsed) leadership told the Guardian:
The fact that state police, who are funded by our taxpayer dollars, are spending time monitoring groups on Facebook that opposed racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic violence, instead of those groups who perpetuate such violence, is abhorrent and should be examined under scrutiny.
Brock Satter of Mass Action Against Police Brutality, a group formed in 2014 to protest police-involved deaths, said, "We didn't realize we were such a high priority to state police." The group had known they were being surveilled over the past few years, citing disproportionate police presence at their public events. Though MAAPB hasn't held an action since April, Satter acknowledged that many within the group demanded a public response to the deleted tweet.
Despite the slip-up and the subsequent switcheroo, the State Police spokesman actually pulled the 'nothing to see here, folks' line, stating, "We do not collect information about – nor, frankly, do we care about – any group's beliefs or opinions."
This statement bumps directly against one of the other tabs on that favorites bar: Intel Techniques.
The non-robot public reaction to the tweet was unkind.
While the robot community came out decidedly in favor of left-wing surveillance.
There are some seriously crossed priorities here, Massachusetts.