Darren Seals was one of several Ferguson, Missouri, activists who died violently and mysteriously in the years after they had been involved in protests over the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown. In September 2016, Seals was found shot and killed in his car, which had been set on fire. The murder was never solved and it didn’t take long for people to speculate that his death may have happened at the hands of law enforcement.
Now, his story has another layer of COINTELPRO-like mystery surrounding it as it has been revealed that the FBI had surveilled him. In fact, the bureau has a 900-page file on Seals, but the vast majority of the information in his file had been redacted.
According to the Riverfront Times, the FBI’s file describes Seals as “a self-described revolutionary who has espoused somewhat militant rhetoric and has access to weapons.” But for the most part, his file is a novel-size document full of redacted info and one of the few things it does reveal is that the FBI had police officers stop Seals for no apparent reason.
From the Times:
The FBI file shows Seals was under some level of FBI surveillance, though to what extent is unclear. The file on Seals runs over 900 pages, but around 860 of those pages were fully redacted. The remaining 45 or so pages still had significant partial redactions.
Notations in the file indicate that much of the redacted text pertains to “investigative techniques and procedures” as well as private information about people other than Seals.
According to the report, at one point Seals was “investigatively detained” during a traffic stop conducted by police at the request of the FBI.
That detention, which the report says lasted about 20 minutes, seems to be referring to a traffic stop that occurred June 8, 2016.
When police pulled him over, Seals was driving his 2012 Jeep Wrangler with a companion whose name is redacted.
The specific police agency working with federal law enforcement is redacted as well. The report does indicate that an FBI agent and a U.S. Marshal assisted in the stop.
A search of Seals’ car turned up nothing.
Law enforcement told Seals there were warrants out for his arrest but then let him go.
Later on, the FBI added to Seals’ file that “traffic warrants for subject’s arrest remain active if additional car stops are deemed merited,” and that the investigation into Seals would be reviewed by the field office’s chief division counsel “at least semi-annually.”
Still, it’s completely unclear why Seals was being surveilled (outside of the obvious, of course), but the FBI did seem to be expecting “violent protests” on his behalf due to “conspiracy theories” regarding his death.
“SEALS was found shot to death and burned in his known vehicle on 9/6/2016. [redacted] Police Department is investigating the matter as a homicide,” the FBI file says. “The investigative plan will be to [redacted] homicide of SEALS because it is anticipated that violent protests may be generated by his death as conspiracy theories are already forming that Seals was killed by the police because of his black lives matter affiliations.”
Of course, if one wanted to cut down on conspiracy theories regarding law enforcement and Seals’ killing, a 900-page file that is more than 90% redacted is probably not helping one’s cause.
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