Should the government use embedded informants in protests, when such informants encourage and promote criminal activity? This is what happened in the case of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, who were boyhood friends from Midland, Texas.

The young men were teenagers when the War on Terror broke out, and they were against it. They wanted to become involved in activism.

In the aftermath of Katrina, the two young men met a man named Brandon Darby. Darby was a peaceful, charismatic revolutionary who was appalled at the government’s response to the flood. Darby formed a grassroots organization called the Common Ground, and he worked to rebuild homes and clinics where the government had failed to do so. He had a devoted following, and had gained trust in the left-wing protest community.

McKay and Crowder looked up to Darby and wanted to participate in some activist protests themselves. They chose the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota to protest. Darby made suggestions and encouraged the men to advance their activities beyond peaceful protest.

In reality, however, Brandon Darby was a government snitch who also instigated through charismatic suggestion, that the men bolster their activism with criminal activity. The two young men were arrested for terrorism plotting and manufacturing Molotov cocktails, and Darby was there every step of the way, from plot to action to arrest to conviction. In fact, if you watch the documentary, you can see that Darby orchestrated the whole series of events that led to the arrests of McKay and Crowder.

If the topics of embedded informants at protests and left wing activists-turned-paid right-wing government informants interest you, bookmark this link and watch the full documentary here (until October 6):

http://www.pbs.org/pov/betterthisworld/full.php

Here is a Mother Jones article on Darby.

Seems that the government is not beyond entrapment of young activists. What about Brandon Darby? How did he go from left-wing peaceful activist and advocate for the marginalized to paid government informant and instigator of criminal activity?

Apparently, Darby was initially trusted and respected in the left-wing protest community. He explained his turnabout by saying that he was always looking for ways to “better this world.” So how, exactly, did his actions in this case better the world?

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