M4RJ Rejects The FBI's Recent Report on "Black Identity Extremists"

The March for Racial Justice patently renounces the FBI’s recent report classifying “black identity extremists” as terrorist threats. This classification is a political fabrication and does not reflect any existing movement or threat to the national security of the United States of America. Conversely, actually existing state-sponsored racism is the primary threat to internal security and democracy to the U.S. However, the FBI and federal government continue to ignore and encourage the growth of state-sponsored racism while doing nothing to curtail it.  The claims of the FBI against black activists are unsubstantiated and set a dangerous precedent that history shows will be used to justify the oppression of the growing movements against anti-black racism and for racial justice.  

This development, as reported in Foreign Policy, is the most recent incarnation of a long history of our government dismantling black activism and civil rights through the activities of the FBI since the days of the Palmer Raids, “Red Summer, state support of the KKK’s “America First” campaigns of the 1910s and 1920s; as well as the Raycon program that J. Edgar Hoover developed to suppress dissent during World War II and the McCarthy period. The FBI’s tactics are well-documented and include sabotage, smear campaigns, infiltration, disruption and the assassinations of prominent black leaders who sought to organize black people and their allies for economic, social and legislative parity. Most notably, the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), launched in 1956 to disrupt the Communist Party USA, was also used to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and other parts of the New Left.

The term “black identity extremists” (BIE) had never been used before this report’s issuing on August 9th, 2017. The Foreign Policy article states that they only found five instances of BIE in a Google search. “All were to law enforcement documents about domestic terrorism from the last two months.” It is a construction which falsely equates black anti-racist movements with white supremacist groups. Black anti-racist movements exist as a necessary response to this country’s history and present-day systemic anti-black racism and racist violence. Conversely, white supremacist groups espouse targeted harassment and violence towards people of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA, the Muslim and Jewish Communities as a matter of course.

The FBI’s designation of “black identity extremists” is an equivocation which shifts the responsibility of white supremacist racism and violence onto the shoulder of its victims -  an equivocation that sees methods of coping with racial trauma, the same as inflicting racial trauma. We saw this equivocation recently in Trump’s response to right wing violence in Charlottesville which took the life of a peaceful protestor. His response to that murder was to say that there are “many sides” to blame for the violence. There is only one side that is responsible: the side of white supremacy and neo-Nazism.

The FBI’s report came one week before Nazis, led by Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, descended on Charlottesville, terrorized people of color, the Jewish community, and murdered Heather Heyer. They waved Nazi flags, physically assaulted people of color and allies, brandished firearms and tiki torches, threatened a nearby synagogue while shouting Nazi slogans and hate speech.  Not more than two months have passed since, and Richard Spencer returned with a mob of Nazis to Charlottesville again on October 7th, 2017 without a single comment from the local police or from the President.

From national TV shows like 60 Minutes to institutions of higher learning like UC Berkeley or Columbia University, platforms are being provided to white supremacists and Nazis to spread their poisonous ideas and hateful propaganda that is meant to actively encourage its audience to harass and terrorize the vulnerable. These actions receive support, both active and tacit, from the highest rungs of the federal government, including the office of the Attorney General as well as the President, both of whom should be investigated for promulgating “white identity extremism” in violation of the nation’s Constitution.

This decree by the FBI exemplifies a terrifying trend of normalizing white supremacist movements with fascistic elements while repressing peaceful movements for racial justice, while this inept president attacks prominent black figures who dare to speak out.

We demand the FBI rescind their cynical and racist classification and end the surveillance, criminalization and repression of black social justice organizations and activists.

Andrea Ciannavei