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Members of Congress demand federal agencies stop illegal surveillance of peaceful protesters

On Tuesday morning, a letter co-led by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, and signed by 35 members of Congress demanded that federal agencies stop all illegal surveillance of peaceful protesters across the United States.

The letter — addressed to the FBI, the National Guard Bureau, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection — was motivated by recent evidence and media reports indicating that the agencies made use of aircraft equipped with surveillance tools during protests that followed the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Ching Wong Protesters hold up signs during a Justice for George Floyd rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ching Wong/

The equipment cited in the letter includes tools that can collect cellphone location data, “Stingrays” that have the ability to collect call, text and browsing data of nearby cellular devices, various facial recognition technology, automated license plate readers and other surveillance technology.

In the letter, the representatives expressed “deep and profound concerns” over surveillance tactics that they said “are significantly chilling the First Amendment rights of Americans.”

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