Discover the Networks
See also: Alicia Garza Patrisse Cullors Opal Tometi
- Established in 2013, in response to the acquittal of the man who killed black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin
- Seeks to stoke black rage over the “virulent anti-Black racism” that “permeates our society”
- Says America was originally “built on Indigenous genocide and chattel slavery” and “continues to thrive on the brutal exploitation of people of color”
Black Lives Matter (BLM) was established
as an online platform in 2013 by Alicia Garza
, Patrisse Cullors
and Opal Tometi
. Their objective was to stoke black rage and galvanize a protest movement in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the “white Hispanic
” who was tried for murder and manslaughter after he had shot and killed a black Florida teenager named Trayvon Martin in a highly publicized February 2012 altercation. Before long, “Black Lives Matter” became a rallying cry
for writers, public speakers, celebrities, demonstrators, and even rioters who took up the cause of demanding an end to what BLM terms the “virulent
anti-Black racism” that “permeates our society.” Demanding that Americans “abandon
the lie that the deep psychological wounds of slavery, racism and structural oppression are figments of the Black imagination,” BLM aims to force
the country to become “uncomfortable about institutional racism.” Emphasizing
the permanence and intransigence of American depredations, BLM maintains that the nation’s “corrupt democracy” was originally “built on Indigenous genocide and chattel slavery” and “continues to thrive on the brutal exploitation of people of color”; that “the ugly American traditions of patriarchy, classism, racism, and militarism” endure to this day; that “structural oppression
” still “prevents so many from realizing their dreams”; and that blacks in the U.S. are routinely “de-humaniz[ed]
,” rendered “powerless at the hands of the state,” “deprived of [their] basic human rights and dignity,” and targeted for “extrajudicial killings … by police and vigilantes.” In sum, says BLM, black Americans are “collectively” subjected to “inhumane
conditions” in a “white supremacist system.” Though BLM professes to articulate the needs and grievances of black people as a whole, the organization deems
it vital to go “beyond
the narrow nationalism” that “merely” urges black people to “love Black, live Black, and buy Black.” That is, it focuses an added measure of attention on those blacks who, in the past, “have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.” These include, most notably, black “queer and trans,” who “bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us”; black “undocumented immigrants” who are “relegated to the shadows” of American society; black “disabled” people who “bear the burden of state-sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by white supremacy”; and blacks who self-identify along non-traditional points of the “gender spectrum.” To improve the allegedly abysmal condition of blacks in the United States, BLM has issued a series of non-negotiable demands
. These include:
- “an end to all forms of discrimination and the full recognition of our [Blacks’] human rights”;
- “an immediate end to police brutality and [to] the murder of Black people and all oppressed people”;
- “full, living-wage employment for our people,” to ensure “our right to a life with dignity”;
- “decent housing” and “an end to gentrification”;
- the cessation of racially “discriminatory discipline practices” in the schools;
- “an end to the school-to-prison pipeline,” a term for the practice of using black students’ behavioral problems as an excuse for pushing them out of the classroom and into the juvenile- and criminal-justice systems;
- “quality education for all,” including “free or affordable public university” enrollment;
- “freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex,” whose hallmarks include “the over-policing and surveillance of [black] communities,” the enactment of many “racist laws,” and “the warehousing of black people”;
- “access to affordable healthy food for our neighborhoods”;
- “an aggressive attack against all laws, policies, and entities that disenfranchise any community from expressing themselves at the ballot” (e.g., Voter ID laws);
- “a public education system that teaches the rich history of Black people”;
- “the release of all U.S. political prisoners”;
- “an end to the military industrial complex that incentivizes private corporations to profit off of the death and destruction of Black and Brown communities across the globe”;
- a comprehensive Justice Department review of “systematic abuses by police departments” across the United States;
- congressional hearings investigating “the criminalization of communities of color”;
- an end to “the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law-enforcement agencies”;
- the implementation of a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice by the Obama Administration, addressing “persistent and ongoing forms of racial discrimination and disparities that exist in nearly every sphere of life”;
- the release, by the office of U.S. attorney general, of “the names of all [police] officers involved in killing black people within the last five years … so they can be brought to justice—if they haven’t already”; and
- “a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment [through the federal government] of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools.”
Several of the foregoing demands are clearly modeled on those that were put forth by the Black Panther Party
in the 1960s. As with the Panthers, the key “demand” is for war against the police; the rest are window dressing. In December 2014, a group of BLM protesters in the San Francisco Bay area rejected
efforts by three regional police unions—in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose—to initiate “constructive dialogue that calls for a common sense approach to very complex issues.”
The Consequences of BLM’s Rhetoric
In 2013 and beyond, a number of black criminal suspects who had died in the course of confrontations with police officers joined Trayvon Martin as new, martyred icons of the BLM movement. Prominent among these were Eric Garner
(New York), Michael Brown
(Ferguson, Missouri), Tamir Rice
(Cleveland), Timothy Russell
(Cleveland), Malissa Williams
(Cleveland), and Freddie Gray
(Baltimore). High-profile political leaders such as President Barack Obama
, Attorney General Eric Holder
, and the mayors of the cities where the aforementioned deaths took place, routinely depicted race as a major underlying factor in those deaths. In December 2014, for instance, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
—explicitly exhorting New Yorkers to remember that “black lives matter”—lamented the “centuries
of racism” whose legacy
was still influencing the actions of too many police officers. The mayor called not only for the retraining of police forces “in how to work with [nonwhite] communities differently,” but also for the use of body cameras to bring “a different level of transparency and accountability” to police work. And in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in April 2015, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, citing
her desire “to reform my [police] department,” called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a civil-rights investigation to determine whether Baltimore police had been engaging in unconstitutional patterns of abuse or discrimination against African Americans. Moreover, when violent riots were overrunning parts of her city following Gray’s demise, Rawlings-Blake, by her own admission, “gave
those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well.” In other words, the police were in effect sidelined. In New York, Baltimore, and elsewhere in urban America, law-enforcement officers responded to the newly rising anti-police climate by becoming less proactive in apprehending criminals, particularly for low-level offenses. This, in turn, led to a dramatic rise in crime rates in a number of U.S. cities. For example:
- Through the first five months of 2015 in New York, the incidence of murder was 20% higher than for the same period a year earlier, and shooting incidents were up 9%.
- During the three months that followed August 2014 (when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri), homicides in nearby in St. Louis city rose 47%, and robberies in St. Louis County increased by 82%.
- After the protests and riots over the April 12, 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, shootings in that city increased by more than 60% compared to the same period a year earlier. In May 2015, Baltimore recorded 43 murders—the most in any month since August 1972.
- From January to mid-May of 2015 in Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% compared to the same period in 2014.
- From January through March of 2015 in Houston, murders were up nearly 100% compared to the same period in 2014.
- From January 1 through May 24, 2015 in Chicago, shootings were up 25% and homicides were up 18% compared to the same period in 2014.
- From January through May of 2015 in Los Angeles, shootings were up 23% and other violent crime was up 25% compared to the same period in 2014.
Moreover, some criminals deliberately made police officers the targets of their violence. For instance, less than three weeks after Mayor de Blasio’s December 2014 condemnation of police in New York, a black gunman named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed
two uniformed NYPD officers, execution-style, as they sat in their marked police car. In a Facebook message he had posted just prior to carrying out his double murder, Brinsley made it explicitly clear that his motive
was to avenge the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. And of the nineteen
police officers nationwide who were killed in the line of duty (by gunshot, assault, or vehicular assault) during the first five months of 2015, ten were killed in the month of May alone; i.e., the month following the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. These spikes in urban crime and in attacks against police officers were not at all troubling to BLM because, notwithstanding the movement’s constant professions of deep concern about black lives, the reality is quite different. What matters most to BLM is finding a spark—e.g., allegations of police vigilantism—that can be used to ignite a race war; to take America back to the “long hot summers” of the 1960s, when criminals were seen as radical “heroes,” police had a bull’s-eye on their backs, and the streets of America’s inner cities ran red with fantasies of “revolutionary violence.”
More BLM Activities
In April 2015, BLM held a “Populism 2015
” assembly at a Washington, DC hotel. The event was sponsored by National People’s Action
, the Campaign for America’s Future
, and the Alliance for a Just Society. On May 28, 2015, BLM held an event at the Center for American Progress
titled “Toward a More Perfect Union: Bringing Criminal Justice Reform to Our Communities.” At this gathering, writes journalist Matthew Vadum
: “[B]lack activists blamed the rising tide of black violence against police and whites on everyone except the perpetrators.” They cited such root causes as the evils of capitalism, white privilege, excessive numbers of laws and police officers, corporate malfeasance, and insufficient taxes levied on the wealthy. In a July 2015 Netroots Nation
conference in Phoenix, Arizona, BLM-affiliated protesters disrupted
talks by two Democratic presidential candidates—U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
of Vermont, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley—shouting at both men: “Say that black lives matter! Say that I am not a criminal! Say my name!” O’Malley, for his part, responded by appealing for a sense of unity: “I think all of us have a responsibility to recognize the pain and grief caused by lives lost to violence. Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” These remarks by O’Malley caused the demonstrators to become enraged, and they proceeded to boo loudly and shout him down. At that same Netroots Nation conference, BLM activists led much of the crowd in the following chant
“If I die in police custody, don’t believe the hype. I was murdered!
Protect my family! Indict the system! Shut that sh*t down!
If I die in police custody, avenge my death!
By any means necessary!
If I die in police custody, burn everything down!
No building is worth more than my life!
And that’s the only way motherf***ers like you listen!
If I die in police custody, make sure I’m the last person to die in police custody.
By any means necessary!
If I die in police custody, do not hold a moment of silence for me!
Rise the f*** up!
Because your silence is killing us!”
On August 29, 2015—just hours
after a lone black gunman had murdered a white sheriff’s deputy in Texas while the latter was pumping gasoline into his car—demonstrators affiliated with the St. Paul
, Minnesota branch of BLM disrupted traffic as they marched—with police protection
—to the gates of the Minnesota State Fair. Carrying signs bearing slogans like “End White Supremacy,” they repeatedly chanted
in unison: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” “Pigs” was a reference to police officers, and “blanket” was a reference to body bags. The slogan echoed
what gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsleyan had posted on the Internet—”Pigs in a blanket smell like bacon”—in December 2014, just before he murdered NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. During the September 1, 2015 airing of a blog-talk-radio program associated with BLM, the hosts laughed
at the recent assassination of Texas Deputy Daron Goforth, a husband and father who was shot 15 times at point blank range from behind while he was gassing up his patrol car. One host, a self-described black supremacist known as King Noble, said
the execution of that “cracker cop” was an indication that “it’s open season on killing whites and police officers and probably killing cops, period.” “It’s unavoidable, inescapable,” he added. “It’s funny that now we are moving to a time where the predator will become the prey.” After claiming that blacks were like lions who could win a “race war” against whites, Noble declared: “Today, we live in a time when the white man will be picked off, and there’s nothing he can do about it. His day is up, his time is up. We will witness more executions and killing of white people and cops than we ever have before. It’s about to go down. It’s open season on killing white people and crackas.” On September 14, 2015, BLM supporter/demonstrator Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, a 25-year-old convicted felon, shot
and killed a rookie Kentucky state trooper named Joseph Cameron Ponder after a high-speed chase. The perpetrator lived in Florissant, Missouri, near the town of Ferguson, and had participated in local demonstrations protesting the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a young black man killed by a white Ferguson police officer after he had tried to take the officer’s handgun. (Click here
for details of that case.) Johnson-Shanks was so preoccupied with the Brown case, that he even attended Brown’s funeral and graveside service in August 2014. On September 16, 2015, BLM activists Brittney Packnett, DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie, Phillip Agnew, and Jamye Wooten met
at the White House with President Obama
as well as senior advisor Valerie Jarrett
and other administration officials. For Packnett, it was her seventh visit to the Obama White House. Afterward, Packnett told reporters
that the president personally supported the BLM movement. “He offered us a lot of encouragement with his background as a community organizer, and told us that even incremental changes were progress,” she stated. “He didn’t want us to get discouraged. He said, ‘Keep speaking truth to power.’” On October 24, 2015, members
of the BLM-affiliated Black Youth Project (BYP) took down an American flag during their #StopTheCops street protests in Chicago, replacing it with one that read “Unapologetically Black.” Like BLM, BYP opposes increased spending on law enforcement, as one of its activists, Maria Hadden, explained: “To provide better education, to provide access to basic human needs, housing and healthcare, those are the ways that we address crime. Those are the ways we improve the city, not by spending more money on police. So we believe we need to spend less money on policing, more money on community services.” Some BYP protestors taunted the police by singing, “Stop cops, stop cops, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when we defund you?” to the tune of the Bad Boys
theme song from the television show COPS
. On November 12, 2015, a group of approximately 150 BLM protesters
shouting “black lives matter” and racial obscenities stormed Dartmouth University’s library, shouting, “F*** you, you filthy white f***s!,” “F*** you and your comfort!,” and “F*** you, you racist s***!” A report in the Dartmouth Review said
“Throngs of protesters converged around fellow students who had not joined in their long march. They confronted students who bore ‘symbols of oppression’: ‘gangster hats’ and Beats-brand headphones. The flood of demonstrators self-consciously overstepped every boundary, opening the doors of study spaces with students reviewing for exams. Those who tried to close their doors were harassed further. One student abandoned the study room and ran out of the library. The protesters followed her out of the library, shouting obscenities the whole way. Students who refused to listen to or join their outbursts were shouted down. ‘Stand the f*** up!’ ‘You filthy racist white piece of s***!’ Men and women alike were pushed and shoved by the group. ‘If we can’t have it, shut it down!’ they cried. Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting ‘filthy white b****!’ in her face.”
In mid-November 2015, students gathered at Kean University in New Jersey to stand
in solidarity with BLM protests that were taking place at the University of Missouri. One of the participants at the Kean event was 24-year-old Kayla-Simone McKelvey, a Kean alumnus and self-proclaimed black activist who had graduated six months earlier. About midway through the rally, McKelvey slipped away and went to the university library, where she secretly and hastily created an anonymous Twitter account, @keanuagainstblk, and stated in its description that it was an account “against blacks” and “for everyone who hates blacks people.”[sic] McKelvey then sent her first “anonymous” tweet: a bomb threat to the campus. She followed that up with tweets that read: (a) “i will kill every black male and female at kean university”; (b) “i will kill all blacks tonight, tomorrow, and any other day if they go to Kean university”; and (c) “tell every black person that you know they will die if they go to #Keanuniversity”. According to police, McKelvey then returned to the rally and began spreading the word that she had “discovered” the aforementioned Twitter threats against black students. McKelvey was subsequently charged with third-degree “creating a false public alarm” and was ordered to appear in court on December 14. SOURCE: DISCOVER THE NETWORKS