How BLM took a wrong turn
Millions around the world are following and supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement from a humanitarian perspective, without looking behind the slogan and how it is affecting different communities inside the US.
The consensus among far-left politicians and the US liberal media is is that if you question, criticize, or accuse the organization of wrongdoing, you are a racist, white supremacist bigot who supports oppression and brutality against the black community, and you should be abolished, like many historical American monuments.
When the first protests broke out last year over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Hawk Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, issued a public nationwide threat that if the movement’s protests failed to achieve meaningful change it would “burn down this system.” He justified this by arguing that America was built on violence. “What is our diplomacy across the globe? We go in and we blow up countries and we replace their leaders with leaders who we like. So, for any American to accuse us of being violent is extremely hypocritical,” he said.
To be clear, no human being deserves to be discriminated against or mistreated based on race, religion, or political affiliation — but violence is not, and never was, the solution. It is also true that Newsome’s BLM “chapter” is not affiliated to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which has disavowed both him and his views. However, is BLM part of the solution, or is it part of the problem?
The #BlackLivesMatter social media hashtag was created in 2013 by the artist and activist Patrisse Cullors, amid anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Two other activists, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, joined Cullors to establish the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Cullors, who remains the network’s executive director, has described herself and her colleagues as “trained Marxists.”
BLM leaders made a major mistake when they decided to appeal to only half of the American population, sidelining conservative African Americans.
In November 2016, when Fidel Castro died, the BLM network published an article on its website praising the Cuban communist dictator for sheltering violent radical extremists including Assata Shakur (also known as JoAnne Chesimard), who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1979 while serving a life sentence for the murder of a state trooper six years earlier.
Ostensibly, the BLM movement was created to push for reform within law enforcement to stop the use of force against African American suspects and civilians, which is a noble cause. But the movement has adopted an extreme left-wing socialist agenda, calling for the redistribution of wealth, decriminalization of drug-related offenses, abolishing police and prisons, and tearing down monuments.
In other words, the movement, set up with the best of intentions, has became the core of the problem, spreading the very hatred and racism they were supposed to fight, hurting the black community above anyone else. The anti-police narrative and the calls to defund police agencies have raised concerns in communities in several states facing soaring crime. For example, the city of Minneapolis recorded 72 percent more murders in 2020 than in 2019, and there were record numbers of murders in Seattle, Louisville, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, while the police became the usual soft target. According to the FBI, 28 percent of those who used deadly force against police officers were motivated by hatred of police and a desire to “kill law enforcement,” in some cases fueled by social and political movements.
BLM leaders made a major mistake when they decided to appeal to only half of the American population, sidelining conservative African Americans and painting the movement as a partisan entity that targets the other side of the political divide.
Having a one-sided conversation makes no sense, unless there is a hidden motive to deepen the division between the American people, continue the chaos we have been witnessing for the past year, and promote anarchy and violence in the name of social justice.
If black leaders included conservatives in their dialogue, they would be surprised by the amount of support and compassion they would receive.
Every law-abiding citizen has the right to live with honor and dignity, protected by the US constitution, and when someone breaks the law, the punishment should be based on the crime, not the person who committed it.
Through the years, US police officers have sacrificed their lives to protect people of all races, but when one abuses the power given to him, the law should be the arbiter. That is how justice reform begins.
• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi