Pastor Heber Brown, III of the Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore, an activist leader in the community, recently revealed a Facebook confrontation in the midst of the uprising of 2015, was more than a simple beef with an internet troll.

Pastor Heber Brown (right) was allegedly a target for Russian trolls during the Baltimore Uprising of 2015. (Screenshot)

During the turbulent days following the uprising, in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, Brown engaged in a Facebook encounter with what turned out to be a Russian operative cited in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The operative was allegedly charged with sowing discord within Baltimore’s Black community, specifically to suppress the Black vote.

Brown relived the incident last night, during an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, host of, “The Beat with Ari Melber.”

“Some short time after the uprising of 2015…there was a lot of energy in the air around social change and challenging the systems of society to make it more just, particularly to African Americans here in this city,” Brown told Melber.

“There were a number of people…who were coming to Baltimore to help support local organizers. But, there also were people who were coming to the city to make Baltimore their platform and stage to make a name for themselves.” Brown said he was able to discern the individual was not a part of the city’s activist community and was able to alert others in the grass roots community and ultimately, thwart the efforts of the Russian operative.

“Did you ever think at the time that it could be part of an international criminal conspiracy, which included trying to suppress the Black vote?” Melber asked Brown during the interview.

“Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever think that any of that would be involved with my engagement and confrontation of this person on Facebook and on Twitter. Blew my mind when I found that out,” said Brown, who is also co-founder of Baltimore United for Change.

“In this one example we see how social inequality is not just a factor that can negatively impact African American communities, but also become an issue of national security…it’s just really a great example of how we really have to redouble our efforts to have a more just and equitable society, so that the conditions are not created for people to take advantage of in the first place.”

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor