Brandon Darby blows the whistle

Law enforcement authorities penetrated the radical groups that sought to disrupt the Republican national convention in St. Paul this past summer. Even so, the radicals who converged on St. Paul wrought substantial havoc. In one or two cases, only blind luck prevented them from killing many visitors.

There are stories waiting to be told if some enterprising reporter takes a look. One such story involves radical turned FBI informant Brandon Darby. Darby helped the FBI arrest two Austin, Texas men on suspicion of building firebombs that were to be directed at the police.

As the case against his Austin buddies gears up for trial later this month in Minneapolis, Darby gives his first interview to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. (The Austin Statesman publishes the Pioneer Press story today with defendants’ mug shots.) Hanners reports that the radical community in Austin is feeling mighty let down:

Darby had been working as an informant since November 2007, and in an e-mail sent to friends Monday, he conceded he was comfortable with that.

“Like many of you, I do my best to act in good conscience and to do what I believe to be most helpful to the world,” he wrote. “Though my views on how to give of myself have changed substantially over the years, ultimately the motivations behind my choices remain the same.”

Darby’s admission shocked Austin’s activist community, which includes people who have known Darby for years and worked with him on a variety of grass-roots organizing efforts.

“Everyone that knew Brandon has gone through a whole range of emotions. Clearly, he’s betrayed the trust of the community, and all the communities he’s worked with,” said Lisa Fithian, a social-justice activist who worked with Darby in Austin.

Why would Darby turn on his former buddies? “Some of them had really bad intentions… somebody had asked me to do something that would’ve resulted in hurting people, and I said no. So they started asking other people. At that point, that’s when I went forward and contacted somebody in law enforcement.”

Still, Darby’s former buddies among the “social justice” crowd find Darby’s work on behalf of law enforcement hard to accept. “I can only say it’s heartbreaking and it’s shocking,” says one of Darby’s old friends. Those of us in the Twin Cities and those who attended the convention owe Darby a great debt of gratitude for breaking their hearts.

Via reader Gregg Geil.

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