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Alabama school system paid former FBI agent $157,000 to spy on black students: critics

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Huntsville City Schools (HCS) paid a former Federal Bureau of Investigations agent $157,000 to direct security last year, but critics contend that the system he implemented is designed to monitor the social media activity of black students, according to AL.com.

Chris McRae, the agent in question, was brought in to oversee the Students Against Fear (SAFe) program, which works by allowing students and teachers to provide anonymous tips to security personnel, who then scour social media sites like Facebook to determine the credibility of the threat.

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Over 600 Huntsville City School students had their social media presence monitored last year. Of the students expelled last year for reasons related to social media, 86 percent were African-American. The school system as a whole is 40 percent black — but 78 percent of all students expelled are black.

Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison said that the policy “is effectively targeting or profiling black children in terms of behavior and behavioral issues.”

Last month, Superintendent Casey Wardynski told AL.com that “our SAFe program is really about bringing information together. Often we’ll find on Facebook things going on right now, kids are posting from inside school or on Twitter. Here’s a kid with a pistol on Facebook. These are his buddies, each with a gun. We’re instantly interested in that.”

“This isn’t like folks are going out looking at everybody’s Facebook and working our way back to, ‘Should we be interested in them?'” he insisted. “It is, ‘We’re interested in this guy, what’s he up to? Is he in school today? Let’s look at his social media.’ All you do is go to Facebook and YouTube and type in their name. If you find out they are doing something in real time or those other people look like they’re doing nefarious things, they can be a threat.”

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McRae and the others involved in running the SAFe program do not work directly for the school system — instead, they are employed by T&W Operations. According to paperwork provided by the system, “McRae provides security training, along with reviewing security features at Huntsville facilities both existing and those under construction. He recommends enhancements and improvements and works with HCS security staff on tips that are referred to the District office.”

However, after news of SAFe’s relation to T&W Operations, many critics of the city noticed that their groups were being monitored by it. Jeannee Gannuch, co-founder of the South Huntsville Civic Association, which is often critical of the city, discovered that T&W Operations was following her group on Facebook.

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“My tax dollars are paying for a hired hand to watch a political organization? That doesn’t seem right,” she told AL.com.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

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Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

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Black woman reveals how Trump is ruining her marriage: ‘My white Republican husband is starting to hate me’

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A black woman revealed over the weekend how President Donald Trump and right-wing media are straining her marriage.

In a Twitter rant on Saturday, a woman going by the name Glass Butterfly hit a nerve by starting a discussion about the challenges of interracial marriage in the age of Trump.

"My white Republican husband is starting to hate me because the longer we live through this administration the 'BLACKER' I become," she revealed. "Any interracially and opposing politically affiliated couples going through this? Like...I have NO idea how to balance who we are..or are becoming."

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