A group linked to the Russian troll farm behind thousands of fake Facebook ads paid personal trainers in New York, Florida, and other parts of the United States to run self-defense classes for African Americans in an apparent attempt to stoke fear and gather contact details of Americans potentially susceptible to their propaganda.
“Be ready to protect your rights… Let them know that black power matters,” the group, known as Black Fist, wrote on its website promoting the events.
The group appears to have been set up in January 2017, and it ran events before stopping at some point this year, evidence that Russia’s attempts to use social media to meddle in American affairs have extended far beyond the 2016 presidential election.
The events, which appear to have been designed to suggest a connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, were — unbeknownst to the trainers who led …