In Detroit last night, around a dozen members and supporters of the grassroots organization, Detroit Will Breathe, received threatening text messages. Formed in the summer uprising through marches and assemblies, the group has faced intimidation in the past by both legal and extralegal forces because of the work they are doing on the ground. Left Voice correspondent and DWB leader Tristan Taylor wrote this statement for Detroit Will Breathe:
I need to address a series of incidents that took place last night that has affected a number of people, and might have affected others who have participated in the movement against police brutality in Detroit.
Last night several people, including current and former Detroit Will Breathe organizers, current leadership members, and supporters received a series of strange, provocative, and threatening messages via text messages.
The text messages seem to come from a number using a text app, and range from someone texting attempting to pose as me (in a very poor way) saying dismissive and threatening statements – including physical threats – to someone using racial slurs and threatening physical violence of individuals and their houses. Whoever sent these texts knew the names of the people they were texting, and in some cases indicated they knew where people lived.
With little information or a way to track the person sending these texts, there are three possible answers as to who this person(s) is: they are either someone(s) connected to far-right organizations harassing the movement, someone(s) with a personal vendetta against DWB who may have been formerly active, or the most extreme possibility that someone(s) are acting on behalf of law enforcement agencies attempting to intimidate and disorient the movement.
We know from statements from former Civil Rights and Black Power activists that COINTELPRO operations included party leaders receiving personal letters that ranged from outright physical threats, to messages seeking to sow discord among leaders, so the possibility of law agencies being involved is very likely.
One thing that we do know is that the movement is too strong to be intimidated and distracted by such actions. We also know that We Keep Us Safe! If anyone is receiving these messages please reach out to me or to DWB social media. We will make sure no one goes through this experience alone, and that if need be we will keep vigil around each other to make sure we are safe.