The Black Lives Matter movement, which has come to be associated with recent race riots following the death of George Floyd, has become an influential player in U.S. politics, as it has gained a following by claiming that blacks are systematically targeted for demise.
The radical left-wing movement, which calls for defunding the police and providing blacks with “reparations” because their ancestors were enslaved before the Civil War, has grown so powerful that Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in huge yellow letters on the asphalt of 16th Street NW in front of the White House, in time for a large protest June 6. The sign has inspired imitation, with such signs planned for all five New York City boroughs.
While Black Lives Matter (BLM) commands respect for its political pull on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers are vastly more supportive of it than Republicans. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican and 2016 presidential candidate, stood out on the GOP side by marching with protesters from the movement recently.
The Democratic National Committee officially endorsed Black Lives Matter in 2015 and has becoming increasingly supportive of the identity politics-driven activism that became common during the Obama years. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama honored the movement by repeatedly inviting its leaders to the White House.
President Donald Trump, like politicians across the country, has condemned the killing of Floyd. He said June 1 that he was “an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
But on the campaign trail in 2015, he made it clear he wasn’t a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think they’re trouble. I think they’re looking for trouble,” he said. “I looked at a couple of the people that were interviewed from the group.
“I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police, and what should be done to them. And that was not good. And I think it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.”
Black Lives Matter Founded
This movement, now at the center of often-violent protests in cities across the United States, grew out of the death of black teen Trayvon Martin.
On April 11, 2012, George Zimmerman was charged with the second-degree murder of Martin, but the case against him eventually fell apart as it became clear that Martin had been the aggressor. A jury acquitted Zimmerman in July 2013.
The case against Zimmerman was the “seminal race hoax of the Obama years,” said documentary filmmaker Joel Gilbert. His movie, “The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud That Divided America,” was released last year.
In 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi drew upon outrage over the Martin case to found Black Lives Matter.
“I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed,” Garza wrote at The Feminist Wire in 2014.
“It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society,” she wrote. “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Cullors in a recent interview says Black Live Matter has an “ideological frame” and describes herself and Garza as “trained Marxists.”
Initially created as an online platform to facilitate activism, according to Discover the Networks, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter quickly became popular on Twitter. It became a rallying cry for activists as they decried what they called the “virulent anti-black racism” that “permeates our society.”
Garza calls herself a “queer” and is a social-justice activist. She admires the Marxist revolutionary, former Black Panther, and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur for her contributions to the “Black Liberation Movement.” Garza also reveres Angela Davis, a former Black Panther who ran for vice president in 1980 and 1984 on the Communist Party USA ticket, with Gus Hall.
Cullors calls herself an “artist, organizer and freedom fighter” who is trying to reform the nation’s supposedly racist criminal justice system. She told Vice.com that when she was 16, she “came out as queer,” “was kicked out of home,” and made close connections with “a bunch of other young queer women of color” who, like her, had to grapple with the challenges of “poverty [and] being black and brown in the USA.”
Cullors has said she’s focused on combating what she terms “the current system” of “white supremacy” and “anti-blackness” that imposes “state violence” on black Americans.
As a college student, Tometi volunteered for an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) project that tracked what it characterized as “vigilantes” who aimed to prevent illegal aliens from coming to the United States.
In 2011, she became a national organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a George Soros-funded organization that aims to support “immigrant rights and racial justice.” Her bio on the group’s website describes her as “a Black feminist writer, communications strategist and cultural organizer.”
Although Black Lives Matter portrays itself “as a spontaneous uprising born of inner-city frustration, … it is, in fact, the latest and most dangerous face of a web of well-funded socialist/communist organizations that have been agitating against America for decades,” according to Maryland-based researcher James Simpson, formerly a contributor to The Epoch Times and now a candidate for Congress.
The movement claims to be nonviolent.
“The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for dignity, justice, and respect. … Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” it states on its website, BlackLivesMatter.com.
Yet Black Lives Matter activists often urge and perpetrate violence against police.
The recent protests and the accompanying rioting and looting in hundreds of U.S. cities have caused commentators to compare 2020 to 1968, the last year that saw such widespread civil unrest, following the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.
Critics say that Black Lives Matter, which has been securing large donations from the corporate world in what may indicate a significant cultural shift in the country, has been violent from the outset.
In 2016, its activists shut down an interstate highway in St. Paul, Minnesota, for five hours, Simpson wrote. During the demonstration, rocks, steel pipes, and fireworks injured police. One officer’s spine was fractured after a concrete block was dropped on his head.
At a Minneapolis fair protest the year before, its activists shouted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!”
The movement grew after another black teen, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Brown was shot after he tried to grab the officer’s gun during an altercation.
Black Lives Matter soon adopted the slogan “Hands Up–Don’t Shoot!,” which was based on a story, later proven false, that Brown had been killed after raising his hands to surrender and saying “Don’t shoot,” according to Discover the Networks.
Officials appointed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder investigated the killing and concluded that the officer had acted in self-defense.
The Epoch Times reached out to the Black Lives Matter organization for comment, but it didn’t immediately respond. Numerous professors who have expressed support for the movement also failed to respond to inquiries.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date on which George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. The date was April 11, 2012. The Epoch Times regrets the error.