'Black Lives Matter' Activists Sabotage Public Order, Intimidate Critics
The politics of racial grievance took center stage in 2015. Leading the way was an ad hoc nationwide group known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Menacing, confrontational and adept in social media, its activists are recruiting blacks, the younger the better, as foot soldiers in disruptive protests rivaling those organized by the master of the trade, Al Sharpton. Like Sharpton, the group claims to seek justice for blacks who have lost their lives at the hands of “racist” white police and vigilantes. And like Sharpton, their style involves character assassination, cause-and-effect distortion, and threats. In recent weeks, BLM activists – there are now nearly 30 chapters – have blocked urban thoroughfares, stormed college campus offices, and disrupted presidential candidate speeches. Woe unto those who fail to meet their demands.
The idea that black lives matter shouldn’t strike anyone as controversial. All lives matter. But that’s not the rock upon which Black Lives Matter stands. BLM decidedly is not an ecumenical human rights organization, a la Amnesty International. The leaders of this decentralized motley crew operate on the paranoid assumption that American blacks are targets of a systematic campaign of white-sponsored genocide. Mass resistance, whether nonviolent or otherwise, in their eyes is thus necessary, with the ends justifying the means. Example: On the afternoon of December 23, several protestors from the group’s Los Angeles chapter shut down the southbound Interstate 405 Freeway in suburban Inglewood for the better part of a half-hour. Several of them spray-painted slogans on the pavement and scrawled the names of blacks “murdered” by police. The protestors were arrested, but not without BLM issuing a statement which read in part: “On one of the busiest travel days of the year, Black Lives Matter is calling for a halt on Christmas as usual in memorial of all of the loved ones we have lost and continue to lose this year to law enforcement violence without justice or recourse.” The group also demanded the firing of Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and the awarding of reparations by the City of Los Angeles to victims of police brutality.
This sort of obnoxious and criminal behavior, the by-product of decades of proselytizing, is based on a false reading of reality. As with more established civil rights groups, Black Lives Matter is highly selective and reckless with facts. They cite the deaths of certain black individuals as evidence of an ongoing white-directed pogrom, yet ignore key details which almost inevitably point to a justifiable use of police or private force. The unstated goal of BLM appears to be the acquisition of power and money. By forcing the resignation of certain whites from positions of authority, they can get compliant replacements. To an extent, they have succeeded. Black Lives Matter, also known by its Twitter hashtag, “#Black Lives Matter,” is built on disruption, intimidation and contempt for anyone who doesn’t accede to their demands. In pursuing “justice,” they have no problem denying it to others. The question arises: How did this movement come so far, so fast?
Black Lives Matter coalesced in July 2013 in the immediate wake of a Florida state jury’s acquittal of a Sanford, Fla. white anti-crime patrol volunteer, George Zimmerman, in the shooting death the previous year of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Its three principal founders, each a black female – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi – had met through a nationwide activist training organization, Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD). Like many blacks, they were enraged that Zimmerman was not convicted of murder. Yet as I noted at length at the time, the jury made the right call. Martin had assaulted Zimmerman without provocation, not the other way around. Zimmerman’s use of lethal force, after he had been slammed to the pavement, was indisputably an act of self-defense. The evidence for a conviction not only failed to rise to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, it failed to rise at all. This case never should have been brought forward. It was driven entirely by online and real-time political pressure waged by activists such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and encouraged by Sharpton’s close friend, President Barack Obama. Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, in her great haste to put a trophy on her wall, engaged in professional misconduct so blatant as to merit her disbarment.
The prosecution’s case was nonexistent, but the stock of Black Lives Matter would rise anyway. The group’s emerged as a first-string political player a year later in the aftermath of another shooting, this one in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Around noon on August 9, 2014, a local white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot to death a violent 18-year-old black male, Michael Brown, in the middle of a residential street. Numerous and unsubstantiated reports cast Brown as a noble victim, a harmless gentle giant executed from behind while surrendering with his hands up. He was anything but that. Area and outside black activists, seemingly unable to distinguish rumor from fact, descended upon Ferguson, set up camp, and demanded the prosecution of Wilson (whose identity, in fact, initially had been kept secret for his own protection) and the resignation of top municipal officials. Al Sharpton came in from New York for an extended visit. A few demonstrators went the extra mile and burned down two convenience stores, including one Brown had robbed just before his fatal confrontation. Three months later, in November, a St. Louis County grand jury, after exhaustively reviewing the evidence, declined to indict Wilson for murder. As with the George Zimmerman case, this was a sound decision. The “unarmed” Michael Brown, in fact, had sucker-punched Officer Wilson while the latter was sitting in his patrol car, attempted to steal Wilson’s service revolver (with the obvious intention of using it against him), and then, after leaving the immediate area on foot, wheeled around and charged at Wilson, who standing in the middle of the street, at top speed. Wilson’s lethal response was an act of self-defense. By contrast, eyewitness testimony on behalf of Brown was confused, contradictory or fabricated. Undeterred by facts, black mobs responded with rioting far more destructive than three months earlier. And as a coda, they conducted a mass demonstration in the streets of Ferguson in March 2015 during which a participant shot two police officers, though not fatally. They also succeeded in forcing the resignation of Ferguson officials, including its mayor. The U.S. Department of Justice, meanwhile, from the start was busy investigating the possibilities of filing a hate crime complaint. The DOJ was unable to discover anything that would stick, but it did conduct and release a highly suspect study of racial disparities in Ferguson police behavior that may serve as a basis for an out-of-court civil settlement.
Black Lives Matter played a prominent role in this sequence of events. In August 2014 the group organized “freedom rides” to Ferguson, bringing in more than 500 blacks from around the country. BLM organizers on the streets of that suburb worked overtime to advance the impression that Michael Brown was a martyr and Officer Wilson a murderer. The effort would fail to generate a prosecution at the federal or state level, but more importantly, it succeeded as networking. Since that summer, the group has organized at least a thousand rallies in localities across the nation. Driving this activity is online social media. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and most of all, Twitter, with their built-in youth appeal, have attracted large numbers of black followers. Organizers know that nothing succeeds in staging a media event quite like a hand-held smart phone.
Creating rallies is one thing; creating ideas is another. And what passes for ideas in this part of the world is less a coherent body of thought than an amalgam of theatrics, taunts and slogans. Common chants and placards at BLM rallies include “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” (an utterance falsely attributed to Michael Brown just before his death), “White silence is violence,” “Is my son next?” and “No justice, no peace,” the latter expression being the tag line of Al Sharpton’s nonprofit National Action Network. Underscoring the fanaticism of Black Lives Matter is the vehement tone of its sense of mission. BLM explicitly has fashioned itself as a coalition (or “intersectionality”) of aggrieved far-Left groups, each making a contribution to a larger struggle against oppression. Much more than established black civil rights groups, it also places an emphasis on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) activism. Two its founders, Alicia Garza and Patrice Cullors, in fact, are avowed lesbians.
The BLM website makes its revolutionary purpose clear. Black Lives Matter, reads the site, is “a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes” and “affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks with records (i.e., criminal records), women, and all black lives along the gender spectrum.” Perhaps the most crystalline expression of BLM’s self-identification can be found in a guest contribution this past March by Ms.
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