Oregon DOJ Searched Hashtags: Black Lives Matter Profiled

attorney-general-ellen-rosenblumSomeone at the Oregon Department of Justice was assigned to look at Twitter for any threats to police officers’ lives.

Perhaps the investigator was overzealous, or maybe there just weren’t many real threats and boredom set in, but for whatever reason, what happened was that anyone in the Salem area who used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was identified and tracked by the DoJ.

Nkenge Harmon Johnson, Director of the Urban League, wrote a letter to state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Johnson had a personal reason to be concerned, as well as a political one: one of the people being tracked was her husband, Erious Johnson, Director of the Civil Rights Unit at the Oregon DoJ.

Rosenblum responded to the letter, saying she was “appalled” by the tracking, but was the letter really the first she’d heard about it? The temptation is strong to say, “She must have known, and if she didn’t know, that’s worse,” but this was after all just one investigator doing a very minor job in a large department. It’s not hard to believe that this went on unnoticed. It would be harder to believe that if even as many as five or ten people in the Department had known about it, one of them wouldn’t have waved a red flag.

 Anyhow, at press time, Rosenblum has declined to identify the investigator.

By John M.