Black Lives Matter

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Black Lives Matter
BLM Letterhead.png
Formation 2013
Founders
Type Social movement
Location
  • United States
Key people
Shaun King
Website BlackLivesMatter.com
Black Lives Matter die-in protest at Metro Green Line against Saint Paul Police Department police brutality in Minnesota.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized left-wing[1] American activist movement that campaigns against violence toward black people and seeks to increase blacks' social and political power. It was founded in 2013 by three black lesbians: the daughter of illegal immigrants and legalization proponent Opal Tometi,[2] Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza.[3] Under the BLM banner, protests and propaganda are organized against police killings of black people, and against racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the justice system.

Black Lives Matter traces its roots back to the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, and the international struggle against Apartheid, but began in its present form with the 2013 hashtag #BlackLivesMatter after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his self-defense case that involved the death of his attacker, African-American Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown, who was being pursued after committing strong-arm robbery (resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson), and Eric Garner in New York City, who died while being arrested for illegally selling cigarettes.[4]

The movement has demonstrated against the deaths of numerous African Americans during violent police interactions, including Tamir Rice (shot while posing with a fake gun), Eric Harris (mistakenly shot during a weapons buying sting), Walter Scott (shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop), Jonathan Ferrell (shot while approaching the police in a dazed state after a traffic accident), Sandra Bland (jailhouse suicide after a heated traffic stop), Samuel DuBose (shot in his car while fleeing a traffic stop) and Freddie Gray (died of injuries from violent arrest for owning an illegal switchblade).

The movement is a decentralized network with no formal hierarchy, but influential opinion leaders.[5] BLM considers itself an inclusive movement within the black community, welcoming "Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum."[6]

Black Lives Matter has allegedly been funded by George Soros,[7] and has been accused of being a domestic terror organization,[8] but has generally been sympathetically depicted by the mass media and the government under the Obama administration.[9][10][11]

Founding

Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Minneapolis.

In the summer of 2013, after George Zimmerman's acquittal for the self-defense shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.[12] The movement was co-founded by three black activists: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.[13][14] BLM drew inspiration from the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, the 1980s Black feminist movement, Pan-Africanism, Anti-Apartheid Movement, Hip hop, LGBTQ social movements and Occupy Wall Street.[15]

Garza, Cullors and Tometi met through "Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity" (BOLD), a national group of community organizers.[15] Garza wrote a Facebook post titled "A Love Note to Black People" in which she wrote: "Our Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter."[15] Cullors replied: "#BlackLivesMatter". Tometi then added her support, and Black Lives Matter was born as an online campaign.[15]

In August 2014, a "Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride" demonstrated in Ferguson, Missouri after the Michael Brown arrest killing.[15] Since August 2014, Black Lives Matter has organized more than one thousand protest demonstrations.[15] On Black Friday in November 2014, generally non-violent Black Lives Matter demonstrators disrupted stores and malls across the United States.[15] There were many protest since then, though these have tapered off somewhat.

As of 2017, there are at least thirty-eight Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Ghana.[16][17] Other Black Lives Matter leaders include: DeRay Mckesson, Shaun King, Marissa Johnson, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Johnetta Elzie.

Organization

Tactics

Black Lives Matter protest against police brutality in St. Paul, Minnesota

Black Lives Matter originally used social media—including hashtag activism.[15] Since then, Black Lives Matters has embraced a diversity of tactics.[18] BLM generally engages in direct action tactics intended to make people uncomfortable.[19] The movement has no formal chain of command but encourages local groups of black people to protest.

BLM strives to build power.[20]

Political slogans used during 2015 demonstrations include "Hands up, don't shoot" (a discredited reference attributed to Michael Brown[21]), "I can't breathe"[22][23] (referring to Eric Garner), "White silence is violence",[24] "No justice, no peace",[25][26] and "Is my son next?", among others.

BLM protesters distinguish themselves from the older black leadership, such as Al Sharpton, by their aversion to middle-class traditions such as church involvement, Democratic Party loyalty, and respectability politics.[27][28]

Rappers like Kendrick Lamar use music as a repertoire of contention to promote the structural conduciveness necessary for a social movement to maintain momentum according to value added theory.[29] Songs include "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar.[30] Beyoncé's production lemonade featured Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin's mothers crying while holding images of their sons.[31]

Memes are used for and against Black Lives Matter new social movement. Information communication technologies such as Facebook and Twitter spread memes in hopes of producing a spillover effect in the offline world.[32] ICTs also facilitate spreading the message "All Lives Matter" as a response to the Black Lives Matter hashtag and the "Blue Lives Matter" hashtag as a response to Beyonce's 2015 halftime performance speaking out against police brutality. However, these counter messages were strongly criticized by left-wing activists.[33][34]

Opponents of the movement like Blue Lives Matter also used memes to criticize and parody its alleged ignorance of how many killings of black people are the result of "black-on-black" crime, or its alleged ignorance of Black on White violence.[35][36]

Philosophy

Black Lives Matter protest at Union Square, Manhattan

Founder Alicia Garza declared: "When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement Black poverty and genocide is state violence. It is an acknowledgment that 1 million Black people are locked in cages in this country–one half of all people in prisons or jails–is an act of state violence. It is an acknowledgment that Black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence." Garza went on: "Black queer and trans folks bearing a unique burden in a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us is state violence; the fact that 500,000 Black people in the US are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows is state violence; the fact that Black girls are used as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war is state violence; Black folks living with disabilities and different abilities bear the burden of state-sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by White supremacy is state violence. And the fact is that the lives of Black people—not ALL people—exist within these conditions is consequence of state violence."[37]

Influence

Black Lives Matter protest at Herald Square, Manhattan

In 2014, the American Dialect Society chose #BlackLivesMatter as their word of the year.[38][39] Over eleven hundred black professors expressed support for BLM.[40] Mainstream media have referred to BLM as "a new civil rights movement".[41][42][43] #BlackLivesMatter was voted as one of the twelve hashtags that changed the world in 2014.[44]

In 2015, Serena Williams wrote: "Keep it up. Don't let those trolls stop you. We've been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too."[45] The Unitarian Universalist Church supports BLM and staged a die-in in Portland, Oregon.[46] Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza—as "The Women of #BlackLivesMatter"—were listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[47] The February issue of Essence Magazine and the cover was devoted to Black Lives Matter.[48] In December 2015 Black Lives Matter was chosen as a contender for the Time Magazine Person of the Year award. Angela Merkel won the award while BLM came in fourth of the eight candidates.[49]

On May 9, 2016 Delrish Moss was sworn in as the first permanent African American chief in Ferguson.[50]

Protests and demonstrations

2014

Black Lives Matter protester at Macy's Herald Square.

In August, during Labor Day weekend, BLM organized a "Freedom Ride" bringing over 500 African-Americans into Ferguson, Missouri to support local organizations.[51] The movement has been generally involved in the Ferguson unrest, following the death of Michael Brown.[52] In 2015, protesters and journalists from a rally in Berkeley, California, filed a lawsuit alleging "unconstitutional police attacks" on attendees.[53]

In November, in Oakland, California, Black Lives Matter stopped a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, in order to "stop business as usual".[54]

A Black Lives Matter protest of police brutality in the rotunda of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota

In December, 2,000–3,000 people gathered at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police.[55] At least twenty members of a protest that had been using the slogan were arrested.[56] In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, BLM protested the Shooting of Dontre Hamilton who died in April after beating a policeman with his own baton during a schizophrenic episode.[57] Black Lives Matter protested the Shooting of John Crawford III, who was shot in a Walmart while playing with a BB pellet gun.[58] The Shooting of Renisha McBride, who was killed when she knocked on a door after a car crash, was protested by Black Lives Matter.[59]

2015

In March, BLM protested at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, demanding reforms within the Chicago Police Department.[60] In Cobb County, Georgia, the movement protested the death of Nicholas Thomas who was shot and killed by the police.[61]

In April, BLM protests of the death of Freddie Gray included the 2015 Baltimore protests.[62][63] Black Lives Matter organizers supported the fast food strike in solidarity with fast food workers, and to oppose racial income inequality.[64] On April 14, BLM protested across U.S. cities.[65] In Zion, Illinois, several hundred protested over the fatal shooting of Justus Howell.[66]

In May, BLM protested police killings of black females like Meagan Hockaday, Aiyana Jones, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd and others.[67] In Cleveland, Ohio, after an officer was acquitted for the Shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, BLM protested.[68] In Madison, Wisconsin, BLM protested after the officer was not charged in the Shooting of Tony Robinson.[69]

In June, after the Charleston church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, BLM condemned the shooting as an act of terror.[70] BLM across the country marched, protested and held vigil for several days after the shooting.[71][72] BLM was part of twenty thousand people who marched for peace on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in South Carolina.[73] After the Charleston shooting, a number of memorials to the Confederate States of America were graffitied with "Black Lives Matter" or otherwise vandalized.[74][75] BLM protested after a video was released showing an officer pinning a girl—at a pool party in McKinney, Texas—to the ground with his knees.[76]

In July, BLM protesters shut down Allen Road in Toronto, Ontario, protesting the shooting deaths of two black misdemeanor suspects, Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby, by the police.[77] BLM activists across the United States began protests over the death of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman, who was allegedly found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.[78][79] In Cincinnati, Ohio, BLM rallied and protested the Death of Samuel DuBose after he was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer.[80] In Newark, New Jersey, over a thousand BLM activists marched against police brutality, racial injustice, and economic inequality.[81]

In August, BLM organizers held a rally in Washington, D.C., calling to stop violence against transgender women.[82] In St. Louis, Missouri, BLM activists protested the death of Mansur Ball-Bey who was shot and killed by police.[83] In Charlotte, North Carolina, after a judge declared a mistrial in the trial of a white Charlotte police officer who killed an unarmed black man, Jonathan Ferrell, BLM protested and staged die-ins.[84] In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Janelle Monae, Jidenna and other BLM activists marched through North Philadelphia to bring awareness to police brutality and Black Lives Matter.[85] Around August 9, the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death, BLM rallied, held vigil and marched in St. Louis and across the country.[86][87]

One-year commemoration of the Shooting of Michael Brown and the Ferguson unrest at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

In September, BLM activists shut down streets in Toronto, rallied against police brutality, and stood in solidarity with marginalized black lives. Black Lives Matter was a featured part of the Take Back the Night event in Toronto.[88] In Austin, Texas, over five hundred BLM protesters rallied against police brutality, and several briefly carried protest banners onto Interstate 35.[89] In Baltimore, Maryland, BLM activists marched and protested as hearings began in the Freddie Gray police brutality case.[90] In Sacramento, California, about eight hundred BLM protesters rallied to support a California Senate bill that would increase police oversight.[91] BLM protested the Shooting of Jeremy McDole.[92]

Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality at Metro Green Line

In October, Black Lives Matters activists were arrested during a protest of a police chiefs conference in Chicago.[93] Members protested Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a town hall meeting at a church in South L.A.[94] "Rise Up October" straddled the Black Lives Matter Campaign, and brought several protests.[95] Quentin Tarantino and Cornel West, participating in "Rise Up October," decried police violence.[96] A Dunkin Donuts employee in Providence, Rhode Island wrote "black lives matter" on a police officer's cup of coffee which resulted in protests.[97] At UCLA, students protested "Black Bruins Matter" after some students wore blackface to a Kanye West-themed fraternity party.[98]

In November, BLM activists protested after Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis Police Department.[99] Later in the month, after continuous protest at the Minneapolis 4th Precinct Police Station, a march was organized to honor Jamar Clark, from the 4th Precinct to downtown Minneapolis. After the march, masked men carrying firearms appeared and began calling the protesters racial slurs. After protesters asked the armed men to leave, the men opened fire, shooting five protesters.[100] All injuries required hospitalization, but were not life-threatening. The men fled the scene only to later be found and arrested. The men arrested were young, one white, one Hispanic, both alleged to be white supremacists.[101] Black Lives Matter protesters marched around the library at Dartmouth College shouting "Black Lives Matter!" Critics[who?] said this amounted to harassment, while protesters said their actions were non-violent.[102][103][104][105]

From November into 2016, BLM protested the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke after slicing a police vehicle.

In December 2015, the Black Christmas protests took place.[106]

2016

In 2016, Black Lives Matter demonstrated against many police killings of African American suspects, most with previous police records, including Bruce Kelley Jr., Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Abdirahman Abdi, Paul O'Neal, Korryn Gaines, Sylville Smith, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Alfred Olango, and Deborah Danner, among others.

In January, BLM protested the shooting death of Mario Woods, who was shot by San Francisco Police officers.[107]

In February, Abdullahi Omar Mohamed, a 17-year-old Somali, was shot by Salt Lake City, Utah police after a confrontation, leading to BLM protests.[108]

In June, BLM and Color of Change protested the California conviction and sentencing of Jasmine Richards for attempting to stop a police officer from arresting another woman.[109]

On July 5, Alton Sterling was shot by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers. More than 100 demonstrators in Baton Rouge shouted "no justice, no peace," set off fireworks, and blocked an intersection to protest Sterling's death.[110]

On July 6, Philando Castile was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, in Falcon Heights.[111] BLM protested throughout Minnesota and the United States.[112]

On July 7, BLM protested the deaths of Alton Sterling (resisted arrest for allegedly threatening anonymous caller) and Philando Castile (shot while reaching for his ID during a traffic stop after informing officer he had a gun permit). At the end of the peaceful protest, Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire in an ambush, killing five police officers and wounding seven others and two civilians. The gunman was then killed by a robot-delivered bomb.[113] Before he died, according to police, Johnson said that "he was upset about Black Lives Matter", and that "he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."[114][114] Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and other conservative lawmakers blamed the shootings on the Black Lives Matter movement.[115][116]

File:Sit-in during San Francisco July 2016 rally against police violence - 3.jpg
Protest in response to the Alton Sterling shooting, San Francisco, California, July 8, 2016

In the first half of July, there were at least 112 protests in 88 American cities.[117] In July 2016, NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade opened the 2016 ESPY Awards with a Black Lives Matter message.[118]

On July 28, Chicago Police Department officers shot Paul O'Neal in the back and killed him following a car chase.[119] After the shooting, hundred marched in Chicago, Illinois.[120]

In Randallstown, Maryland, on August 1, 2016, police officers shot and killed Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old African-American woman, also shooting and injuring her son.[121] Gaines' death was protested throughout the country.[122]

In August, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Black Lives Matter protested the death of Bruce Kelley Jr. who was shot after fatally stabbing a police dog while trying to escape from police the previous January.[123]

Beginning in August, several professional athletes have participated in the 2016 U.S. national anthem protests. The protests began in the National Football League (NFL) after Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat during the anthem, as opposed to the tradition of standing, before his team's third preseason game of 2016.[124] During a post-game interview he explained his position stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,"[125] a protest widely interpreted as in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.[126][127][128]

In September 2016, BLM protested the police shootings of Terence Crutcher (who abandoned his vehicle during a drug episode) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Keith Lamont Scott (who allegedly refused to drop his handgun) in Charlotte, North Carolina.[129][130][131]

Multiple nights of protests from September to October 2016 were held in El Cajon, California, following the shooting of Alfred Olango, a Ugandan refugee who pretended to pull a gun at the police, though he was actually unarmed.[132][133]

2016 Presidential campaign

In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter began to demand that politicians—including 2016 United States presidential candidates—state their positions on BLM issues.[134]

Influence

Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter activists in Westlake Park, Seattle

In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution supporting Black Lives Matter.[135] In the first Democratic debate, the presidential candidates were asked whether black lives matter or all lives matter.[136] In reply, Bernie Sanders stated "black lives matter."[136] Martin O'Malley said, "Black lives matter," and that the "movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color."[137] Jim Webb, on the other hand, replied: "as the president of the United States, every life in this country matters."[136] Hillary Clinton was not directly asked the same question, but was instead asked: "What would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn’t?"[138] Hillary Clinton promised criminal justice reform and said, "We need a new New Deal for communities of color."[139] In August 2015, Clinton expressed skepticism about the movement's tactics.[140] In June 2015, Clinton was criticized for saying "All lives matter."[141]

Republican candidates were more critical. In August 2015, Ben Carson, the only African American vying for the presidency, called the movement "silly".[142] Carson also said that BLM should care for all black lives, not just a few.[143] In the first Republican Presidential debate, that took place in Cleveland, only one question referenced Black Lives Matter.[144] In response to the question, Scott Walker did not acknowledge Black Lives Matter and advocated for the proper training of law enforcement.[144] Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker blamed the movement for rising anti-police sentiment,[145] while Marco Rubio was the first candidate to publicly sympathize with the movement's point of view.[146] Several conservative pundits have labeled the movement a "hate group".[147] Candidate Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, criticized President Obama for supporting BLM, saying that the movement calls for the murder of police officers,[148] which was condemned by New Jersey chapters of the NAACP and ACLU.[149]

Donald Trump was harshly critical of the BLM movement, blaming them for instigating police killings, and ordering BLM protesters to be thrown out of his rallies.[150]

Protests

Black Lives Matter on Black Friday 2014 at Times Square

At the Netroots Nation Conference in July 2015, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors led a protest yelling "Burn everything down!," and interrupted the speeches of Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders.[151][152] Later during the event, the protesters shouted and booed at Martin O'Malley when he said "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."[153] O'Malley later apologized for his remarks, saying that he didn't mean to disrespect the black community.[153]

On August 8, 2015, a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders was disrupted by a group from the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter including chapter co-founder Marissa Johnson[154] who walked onstage, seized the microphone from him and called his supporters racists and white supremacists.[155][156][157] Sanders, a civil rights activist himself in the 1960s, issued a platform in response.[158] Nikki Stephens, the operator of a Facebook page called "Black Lives Matter: Seattle" issued an apology to supporters of Bernie Sanders. She was then sent threatening messages by members of the Seattle Chapter, and changed the name of her group to "Black in Seattle". The Black Lives Matter founders denied they had issued an apology.[159]

In August, activists chanting "Black Lives Matter" interrupted the Las Vegas rally of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.[160] As Bush exited early, some of his supporters started responding to the protesters by chanting "white lives matter" or "all lives matter".[161]

In October, a speech by Hillary Clinton on criminal justice reform and race at Atlanta University Center was interrupted by BLM activists.[162]

In November, a BLM protester was physically assaulted at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. In response, Trump said, "maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."[163] Donald Trump had previously threatened to fight any Black Lives Matter protesters if they attempted to speak at one of his events.[164]

In March 2016, Black Lives Matter helped organize the 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest that made Trump cancel the event.[165][166] Regular anti-Trump protests continued until the election.

Black Lives Matter after 2016

BLM activists have severely criticized the election of Donald Trump, whom they have called a white supremacist, and whose mostly white social and political support base should be disempowered.[167] They have condemned his White House website, which stated "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong" and "Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter."[168]

Black Lives Matter meetings have prohibited non-blacks from participating or attending. Whites are allowed to help the movement in other ways; by providing support services, donating, and participating in public protests.[169]

BLM protested the Nashville, Tennessee shooting of Jocques Clemmons on February 10, 2017, after he ran a stop sign and fled the police while carrying a gun.

After the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in which a white BLM supporter was killed, BLM Louisville cofounder Chanelle Helm wrote a column urging white people to leave their houses and other assets to disadvantaged minorities, including African-Americans and Hispanics, and to dedicate their lives to making up for past evils committed by whites against these peoples. This would include a policy of deplatforming anyone who disagrees with these proposals.[170] In the weeks after the rally, several far-right websites that had most severely criticized BLM (like the Daily Stormer) were indeed removed from the internet by their hosting companies, and were unable to find new web hosts.[171]

In September 2017, BLM-associated protesters rioted through traditionally mostly "white" areas in St. Louis, Missouri (not far from Ferguson), including at shopping malls, at mayor Lyda Krewson's home, and in the Delmar Loop. This happened after white police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Smith fled the police when he was spotted selling drugs, and refused to come out after his car had been rammed. Stockley said he saw Smith reaching for his gun, and opened fire. It was not clear whether Smith really reached for his gun. The band U2 cancelled a nearby concert because of the civil disturbances.[172]

BLM international protests

Black Lives Matter protest at Union Square, Manhattan

After the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, minority activists in other countries with white majorities began to model BLM protests on the Arab Spring.[15][173] This movement was called the "Black Spring".[174][175] Connections were forged with the Dalit rights movement.[176]

Australia

In July 2016, a BLM rally was organized in Melbourne, Australia, in which 3,500 people attended. The protest also emphasized the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians.[177]

Canada

In July 2015, BLM protesters shut down Allen Road in Toronto, Ontario, protesting the shooting deaths of two black men—hammer-wielding Andrew Loku and knife-wielding Jermaine Carby—by the police.[77] In September, BLM activists again shut down streets in Toronto.[88]

In late August 2016, the Toronto chapter protested at the Special Investigations Unit in Mississauga after the death of Abdirahman Abdi, who died during an arrest in Ottawa after being accused of groping women.[178] The Canadian Somali Mothers' Association and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women joined the demand for disciplinary reform. In September, Black Lives Matter Toronto criticized Pride Toronto for what it called years of "history of anti-blackness, and wanted to see it take action nine demands BLMTO issued at the parade."[179]

United Kingdom

On August 4, 2016, BLM protesters blocked London Heathrow Airport in London, England, as demonstrators chained themselves together and lay on the motorway leading to the airport. Other protesters shut down the Nottingham tram system.[180] Related BLM protests in Birmingham and Manchester all marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting death of Mark Duggan (who was trying to dispose of a hand gun[181]).[182]

Over 120 flights were cancelled or delayed in a separate protest at London City Airport on September 6, 2016.[183][184][185]

In 2017, BLM groups[186] continued to organize violent protests and riots in London in response to police treatment of black criminals.[187] In July 2017, a black drug dealer fleeing the police died when he allegedly swallowed drugs he was carrying in an attempt to conceal evidence. In response, gangs of black and Asian youths, and left-wing and anarchist supporters, rioted in East London under the banner of Black Lives Matter. The police responded by tweeting that the family of the dead drug dealer disapproved of the violence, in hopes that the rioters would stop.[188] Comment sections on UK news websites were closed to prevent racist comments, which could trigger Crown Prosecution.[189]

Other groups

All Lives Matter

Some liberals and moderate conservatives have countered that the phrase "All Lives Matter" would be a more proper title. Tim Scott has defended the usage of the "All Lives Matter" term.[190]

On Real Time with Bill Maher Bill Maher supported the "Black Lives Matter" phrase, stating that "All Lives Matter" "implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they're not".[191] Founders have said, "#BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean your life isn't important – it means that Black lives, which are seen without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation."[192] Garza said "changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is a demonstration of how we don't actually understand structural racism in this country", adding that other lives are valued more than black lives, which she strongly feels is wrong, and that to take blackness out of this equation is inappropriate.[193]

The movement challenges the "universalizing politics" implied in the notion of a Post-racial America, and the phrase 'All Lives Matter' reflects a view of "racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial", according to critical race theory scholar David Theo Goldberg.[194]

Barack Obama said, "I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter ... rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that's not happening in other communities." He also said "that is a legitimate issue that we've got to address."[19]

On February 24, 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, sent out a company-wide internal memo to employees formally rebuking employees who had crossed out handwritten "Black Lives Matter" phrases on the company walls and had written "All Lives Matter" in their place. Facebook allows employees to free-write thoughts and phrases on company walls. Zuckerberg wrote that he would now consider this overwriting practice not only disrespectful, but "malicious as well." According to Zuckerberg's leaked memo, "Black Lives Matter doesn't mean other lives don't – it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve." The memo also noted that the act of crossing something out in itself, "means silencing speech, or that one person's speech is more important than another's."[195][196][197]

Blue Lives Matter

Following the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson and in response to BLM, the hashtag #BlueLivesMatter was created by supporters of the police. Following this, Blue Lives Matter became a pro-police officer movement in the United States. It expanded after the killings of American police officers.[198]

White Lives Matter

White Lives Matter is an activist group inspired by Black Lives Matter, with the purpose of exposing the alleged existence of a program of mostly non-violent white genocide carried out through population replacement. The group also claims that different races have genetically determined differences in personality traits and skill sets. However, they claim that due to political correctness, which they consider to be a secular religion, these differences can not be discussed or acknowledged.[199] In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center added "White Lives Matter" to its list of hate groups.[200] The group has also been active in the UK.

Criticism

BLM has been accused of using violence as an intimidation tool to overthrow the existing order. As a left-wing revolutionary movement BLM has been accused of being inherently opposed to the police. Like other strong identity-based movements, BLM is said by some critics to ignore the weaknesses of its own membership to better focus on undermining the strengths of rival groups. This allegedly means they use lies to further their aims.[201][202][203]

Issues protested

African-American critics of the movement include neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, minister Johnathan Gentry of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and author and minister Barbara Ann Reynolds.[204][205] Deroy Murdock questioned the number of black people killed by police that is reported by BLM. He wrote, "But the notion that America's cops simply are gunning down innocent black people is one of today's biggest and deadliest lies."[206] The hashtag #BlueLivesMatter was created by supporters who stood up for police officers' lives.[207] Some critics also accuse Black Lives Matter of "anti-white and anti-police radicalism".[208]

Law enforcement has been critical of BLM. Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr of Milwaukee County stated there is no police brutality problem in America and that "there is no racism in the hearts of police officers".[209] John McWhorter said that the Black Lives Matter movement should take on black-on-black crime.[210] Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman said about the "Black Lives Matter" movement, "I dealt with a best friend getting killed, and it was [by] two 35-year-old black men. There was no police officer involved, there wasn't anybody else involved, and I didn't hear anybody shouting 'black lives matter' then."[211]

Tactics

See also: Ferguson effect

Some black civil rights leaders, such as Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, Najee Ali, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, have criticized the tactics of BLM.[212] Marchers using a BLM banner were recorded in a video chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" at the Minnesota State Fair. Law enforcement groups said that the chant promotes death to police. A North Carolina police chief retired after calling BLM a terrorist group.[213] A police officer in Oregon was removed from street duty following a social media post in which he said he would have to "babysit these fools," in reference to a planned BLM event.[214]

Commentators and law enforcement claim BLM has made it hard for police to do their job, leading to a rise in crime rates.[206] Commentators have referred to this as the "Ferguson effect."[206] FBI Director James Comey, for example, suggested that the movement is partly leading to a national rise in crime rates because police officers have pulled back from doing their jobs.[215] However, there had been even larger crime spikes prior to the events in Ferguson.[216]

White reaction

In response to Black Lives Matter, Facebook pages purporting to represent "White Student Unions" with the slogan "White Lives Matter" were linked to college campuses in the United States.[217] The pages ironically promise a "safe space" for white students and condemn alleged anti-white racism on campus.[218] However, many of the groups were not verified as legitimate student organizations registered with their respective universities.[217]

Media depictions

  • Black Lives Matter appeared in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.[12][37]
  • The TV drama Scandal depicted Black Lives Matter on their March 5, 2015 episode that showed an unarmed black teen shot by a police officer.[219]
  • The documentary short film Bars4Justice features brief appearances by various activists and recording artists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. The film is an official selection of the 24th Annual Pan African Film Festival.
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis both rap and sample protest chants in their single, "White Privilege II", including the eponymous chant, "black lives matter," as well as "it's not about you!" and "no justice, no peace".
  • The primetime Fox drama Empire aired season 3 episode 2 on September 28, 2016, which portrays Black Lives matter and police brutality when Andre Lyon is attacked by police officers for moving boxes outside his home, without any wrongdoing.
  • The ABC sitcom Black-ish featured a debate about Black Lives Matter in the episode 'Hope'.
  • In April 2017, Pepsi released a television commercial starring Kendall Jenner that featured a demonstration in the style of BLM protests. The commercial was criticized because it appropriated the style but not the political substance of the protests, with only anodyne and generic slogans being shown on the protest signs.[220] Activists also criticized the commercial because Jenner was not black, it did not support black nationalism, and it did not endorse BLM's revolutionary or socialist vision. The commercial was taken off the air and Pepsi apologized.[221]

Public opinion

US perception of Black Lives Matter varies considerably by race. According to a September 2015 poll, nearly two-thirds of African Americans mostly agree with BLM, while 41% of whites thought BLM advocated violence, and 59% thought it distracted attention from the real issues.[222]

A June 2016 poll found that 65% of black American adults supported Black Lives Matter and 40% of white American adults support it. Fifty-nine percent of black Americans thought that Black Lives Matter would "be effective, in the long run, in helping blacks achieve equality" and 34% of white Americans thought so.[223]

See also

References

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Further reading

External links