The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. has led to a surge in violence against the police, and the FBI has noticed.
An incendiary new report by the FBI’s counterterrorism division details the violent domestic threat from “black identity extremists,” who have increased their attacks on law enforcement officers.
The FBI says that “it is very likely BIEs proactively target police and openly identify and justify their actions with social-political agendas commensurate with their perceived injustices against African Americans….”
In 2016, a gunman named Micah Johnson in Dallas, Tx. opened fire on a group of 11 police officers who were keeping order during a peaceful protest against officer-involved shootings. He killed five of the police officers.
Black Lives Matter became a political force following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. By white police officer, Darren Wilson. The police officer was cleared of any wrongdoing despite widespread protests—and even riots—from Brown’s supporters, who called the incident a case of police brutality.
According to police officials, Wilson stopped Brown after receiving a call about a robbery at a convenience store. Video footage of the violent incident showed Brown strong-arming the store clerk as he attempted to leave.
When Wilson approached Brown outside the store, Brown reportedly reached for the police officer’s gun, but failed to grab it. Wilson gave chase, and eventually shot Brown. Brown’s family said that he had his hands up when he was shot, a claim that police deny. The incident spawned the slogan “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” which has become a chant in many Black Lives Matter protests across the nation.
The shooting itself led to a violent riot in Ferguson, in which several buildings and cars were set ablaze. The protests have since spread to the rest of the country and have become a rallying cry across college campuses for social justice activists.
On Twitter, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has its own icon, where it is echoed by celebrities and popular influencers.
The FBI report states that the agency had previously investigated the potential for violence stemming from black identity extremism—a term original to the newly released document. The FBI has determined that violence inspired by the BLM movement has now actually occurred and is “likely” to continue.
“It is very likely that BIEs’ perceptions of unjust treatment of African-Americans and the perceived unchallenged illegitimate actions of law enforcement will inspire premeditated attacks against law enforcement over the next year,” the report states. “It is very likely additional controversial police shootings of African-Americans and the associated legal proceedings will continue to serve as drivers for violence against law enforcement.”
DeRay Mckesson, one of Black Lives Matter’s most public faces, has spoken out against the FBI report to accuse it of racial profiling. Speaking to The Guardian, McKesson said that the report is a throwback to the time when FBI tracked groups like the NAACP and anti-war activists.
“We knew that we were likely being watched,” said Mckesson. “This is confirmation that the work of social justice continues to threaten those in power.”
The Guardian also quoted an anonymous “former senior official” from the Department of Homeland Security who described the “black identity extremist” category as “troubling.” The official also raised his concerns over “civil rights and privacy issues,” stating that the designation “has no basis.”
Speaking to Fox News, other observers say that the FBI is correct in its description.
“It’s not racial profiling, it’s violence profiling,” Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank. “Identity politics can kill, whether it’s white identity politics, which killed in Charlottesville, or black identity politics, which kills cops.”
“We have to be able to distinguish between free speech and violence,” Walter added. “[Many] longtime [black] activist groups were not obsessed with violence.”
There’s a difference between protests against police brutality, and protests that call for “dead cops.” It’s no shock that some people would feel inclined to make the latter a reality.