As Louisiana State Police officers share with each other a document titled “full list of antifa.docx,” their department is refusing to hand it over, claiming it’s part of a criminal investigation.
But a New Orleans civil rights attorney, William Most, says police appear to be hanging onto the list because it originated from white supremacist and hoax websites, and is suing them to try and force its release.
Most, who found the document through a public records request for police records containing racist keywords, is suing the state’s police to release the document, as first reported by WGNO. But so far the State Police are refusing to release it, claiming it was provided by a confidential informant whose identity could be compromised.
Anti-fascist activists or “antifa” are not a unified group. Although some activists might organize in local chapters, the movement is unstructured, making a “full list of antifa” impossible to compile. But fascists didn’t get the memo. In mid-2017, far-right forum-goers started scraping names from anti-Trump petitions and Facebook events and compiling them into a list of supposed “antifa” members, BuzzFeed reported last year.
“Someone hacked Antifa [sic], and got the entire list of people available for antifa activities,” one troll wrote above a massive document of scraped liberal names. Two days after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, the list blew up on 8chan, a forum popular with hoaxers and white supremacists.
“Full list of Antifa members,” the 8chan post described the list, which contained thousands of names. The list then spread to other white supremacist sites like Stormfront, where neo-Nazis linked to the 8chan thread and cheered what they described as the “doxing of Antifa members.”
Within a week, Louisiana State Police were emailing “full list of antifa.docx” to each other, according to emails Most obtained through his public records request for messages containing racist code words.
The timeline isn’t the only reason Most suspects the Louisiana State Police document is the same as the 8chan hoax. His original public records request asked for police emails that contained the term “white genocide,” a white supremacist meme that falsely claims that pro-diversity campaigns are secretly an effort to kill off the white race.
“Full list of antifa.docx” only ever appeared as an attachment in police emails, none of which contained the term “white genocide” in the body of the message. But the term appears in the original 8chan thread. “All these ((people)) were to be sacrificed by the jews to be massacred by heavily armed militia [...] all to get Trump out of office and to continue white genocide,” an 8chan post read, falsely claiming that people on the hoax list were part of a Jewish plot to kill white people. Most speculated that police scraped their list from 8chan, and that the comment made its way into the official police document.
“If the LSP is actually using this for a criminal investigation wherein ‘criminal litigation is reasonably anticipated,’ I am truly horrified because it suggests LSP takes this kind of thing seriously,” he wrote to a state police records official.
“But I suspect that this is not at all the case: I suspect your ‘Confidential Informant’ is more likely just a far-right sympathizer with connections to LSP who forwarded it on to people that he/she knows on LSP.”
If Most is correct, it wouldn’t be the first time police fell for hoaxes about anti-fascists. In May, a coalition of Georgia police cracked down on anti-fascists in a disproportionate display of force that was fueled in part by a far-right hoax claiming 10,000 anti-fascists would protest a neo-Nazi rally.