Brandon Darby : FBI Informant is Provocateur, Not a Hero

Austin activist and FBI informant Brandon Darby. Photo courtesy of YouTube.

‘FBI informant Brandon Darby did not heroically intervene to stop violence. Rather it appears that he actively sought out people that he could manipulate and entrap.’

By Austin Informant Working Group / The Rag Blog / January 6, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — A group of Austin activists today released their conclusions from reviewing over 70 pages of FBI documents obtained through a legal case regarding alleged actions to protest the Republican National Convention (RNC). From reading the documents, and from their own experience with him, these activists have concluded that the FBI informant Brandon Darby did not heroically intervene to stop violence. Rather it appears that he actively sought out people that he could manipulate and entrap. The two Texas men that Darby was most closely associated with during the convention, Bradley Crowder and David McKay, are accused of making Molotov cocktails and have been in jail since early September. Their trial is set for January 26. The disclosure of Brandon Darby as the informant casts further doubt on the charges against these two men.

According to the FBI’s documents, Darby, posing as an activist, had been covertly gathering information for the FBI since at least February 2007, twelve months before he ever met Crowder or McKay or knew of any plans for the RNC. “As an older seasoned activist, Darby had a lot of sway over Crowder and McKay, making them susceptible to his often militant rhetoric,” said Gabby Hicks, who was in St. Paul with Darby during the Convention. “He was always the one to suggest violence, when the rest of us clearly disagreed with those strategies.”

Darby has been characterized by many people who have known and worked with him as both persuasive and manipulative, with a history of provocation, instigation, and incitement. According to Lisa Fithian, who worked with Darby for years, “Brandon was always provoking discord and aggression, in the anti-war movement in Austin in 2003, in protests in Houston against Halliburton, and in disaster relief at Common Ground in New Orleans. I worked with Darby in all of those places and saw the disruption he caused.”

The FBI documents make it clear that Darby did not restrict his informing to people he alleges were planning illegal activities. He also gathered information on numerous people who were engaged in lawful activism; including some who had no plans to attend the Republican Convention. “The wider net cast by Darby in his information gathering shows that he was part of an FBI campaign to suppress political dissent and activism,” said Will Potter, an award-winning independent journalist. “By gathering information on law abiding activists and then defending his actions as stopping violence, Darby contributes to the public perception that political dissent is criminal, which has a chilling effect on free speech.”

Because of Darby’s leadership role and his militant rhetoric, two impressionable young men, who have been held without bail since September, now face 7 to 10 years in prison. As the prosecution prepares for trial, friends and family of McKay and Crowder are hoping for a not guilty verdict. “We miss him a lot,” said Mckay’s father. “Every night David calls – at this point those calls mean everything to me.”

For more information contact the Austin Informant Working Group at texas.solidarity@gmail.com. People in this community are also available to speak to the media about their experiences with Darby and the results of his malicious actions.

Gabby Hicks traveled to St. Paul with Darby for the RNC and is named in the documents.
Lisa Fithian is local long-time organizer named in the documents and worked with Brandon in Austin, Houston, and NOLA.
Carly Dickson was a longtime friend of Brandon, represents Austin People’s Legal Collective.
Brent Purdue is a local activist who worked with Brandon.
Heather Mitchell is a local activists.
Scott Crow is a local long-time organizer named in the documents and a long-time friend of Brandon’s.

See Brandon Darby: Austin Activist Outed as FBI Spy / The Rag Blog / Jan. 2, 2008

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6 Responses to Brandon Darby : FBI Informant is Provocateur, Not a Hero

  1. Anonymous says:

    Darby’s behavior is a disgrace & his explanatory statements to the press hypocritical nonsense. However, it doesn’t help progressive causes to explain, much less excuse, violence (even planned violence) on the basis of the actors being “impressionable young men”. Is that intended to
    demean the men’s individual intellect or judgement? characterize all males under a certain age? or to influence the court? While acknowledging & respecting the notion of extenuating circumstances and undue influence, we should also embrace responsibility for one’s own acts.

  2. PapaGeorgio says:

    I say hats off to Brandon. He did the right thing. For him it was a no win proposition. If he doesn’t tell people might be hurt. If he does the activist community will burn him at the stake. Let’s see, what would he have to gain by informing. I see no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. You people just feel betrayed but he did what had to be done. It shows me he has matured and knows the difference between right and wrong. What do you think Obama, or Martin Luther King, or Gandhi would have done. It seems like if it is the right thing to do it is not what the activist of today think is the right thing to do. Violence is the last resort of the ignorant. I am from New Orleans and when I meet one of your so called activist I don’t trust them. From experience they come offering all this help but the real reason they come is to promote there agenda. I have also witnessed most of these so called activist are white from middle to upper middle class families, most are students at private universities. Most rebel against the system that is supporting them. Tell you what, give some of daddy’s money to a kid in the 9th ward with no funds to even afford public college and see what they do with that education. You bunch of activist wanna be’s

  3. Anonymous says:

    Brandon, you need to purchase a copy of Naomi Wolf’s “Give Me Liberty”.

    Then decide whose side is right.

    Personally, I think you have sold your soul, I hope you’re happy with whatever you got with your 30 pieces of silver.

  4. Anonymous says:

    @PapaGeorgio

    Most of the activists I know are working-class people of color. I myself am a young Mexican woman who cannot afford public college. I call bullshit on your accusations, and “their” agenda. I mean, “their” agenda to what — secure resources for everyone? I’m talking about the anarchists, anyway.

    Don’t pull the race/class card here, as we are the most affected by government rule and policy and end up even violently thwarted from our anti-capitalist efforts.

    Darby, if there was a Hell…

  5. MarcosBeGood says:

    @ PapaGeorgio

    As if there is anything abhorrent about an “agenda” that seeks to eradicate want, intolerance and inequality in the world. It would seem that you to fall into the trap of seeing political dissent as criminal.

  6. X. Dell says:

    Hi. I was wondering if you know, or know of, any information about Darby prior to 2003. Do you know if anyone has, say, written a bio or book about him?

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