In the wake of Charlottesville and Las Vegas, the FBI recently identified a new domestic terrorism threat – “black identity extremists.”1
It’s a new term the FBI made up to single of African Americans who campaign for equal rights and racial justice, like for instance Black Lives Matter activists.
Tell the FBI to immediately drop the term black identity extremists and to cease and desist targeting Black Lives Matter activists.
Instead of focusing their resources and attention to mass shooters or white supremacists who openly advocate violence – and in Charlottesville, actually killed someone – the FBI is signaling that they’re up to their old tricks again.
The FBI has a long and storied history of targeting African American civil rights activists with warrantless government surveillance. From Martin Luther King Jr. to SNCC students. Now they’re doing it to Black Lives Matter activists.
Tell the FBI that you denounce using the term “black identity extremists” to single out Black Lives Matter activists and other African American activists.
There’s no denying that the Black Lives Matter activist movement has changed the debate in America on police violence and racial justice in recent years. But the core mission of Black Lives Matter isn’t rhetoric, it’s holding police accountable for the violence and murders of African Americans.
The FBI’s memo doesn’t just miss the forest for the trees, it uses the vague, catch-all term “Black Identity Extremists” as a dog whistle to justify the same kind of government surveillance we saw during the 1960s civil rights movement.2
And there’s a big difference between today’s Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-segregation and civil rights movement of the 1960s – the internet. Now, government agencies like the FBI have more digital surveillance tools than ever imaginable. They’re able to track phone calls, emails, text messages, social media accounts, and cell phone data.
Considering that the Black Lives Matter movement first caught wind on the internet and social media, and uses those platforms to organize locally, means that the FBI has even more of an opportunity to dig in, invade, and disrupt the lives of Black Lives Matter activists than they did in their COINTELPRO days.3
Tell the FBI to immediately drop the term “black identity extremists” and cease and desist targeting Black Lives Matter activists.
1. Foreign Policy, “The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists’” October 6, 2017.
2. Huffington Post, “The FBI’s ‘Black Identity Extremist’ Classification Is As Absurd As ‘Reverse Racism’” October 10, 2017.