We have been inundated with talk of terrorism since the attacks in Paris. Dave Weigel has an excellent report on how Americans are fearful of domestic terror attacks from Syrian refugees in particular and Muslims in general. This fear is prevalent despite the fact that domestic terrorism has been largely been the work of white supremacists here in the United States.
We now have yet another unfortunate incident of domestic terrorism. This time targeting peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors exercising their right to peaceful assembly. For the past week Black Lives Matter has been gathering outside of Minneapolis’s Fourth Precint police station to call for accountability in the shooting of an unarmed citizen, Jamar Clark, at the hands of the police. These protests follow in a long line of recent protests meant to highlight, and hold accountable agents of the state who shoot, injure and kill unarmed citizens.
The protests have prompted many Americans to re-examine the policies and conduct of agents of the state towards black people in particular and people of color in general. (Full disclosure, I have participated in protests in St. Louis and Dallas organized or associated with Black Lives Matter.) The work of these protests have prompted presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to re-examine policies and positions on criminal justice reform in particular and the needs and concerns of the black community in general.
While Democratic politicians have engaged the Black Lives Matters movement in earnest. Conservatives and Republicans have responded to the call for criminal justice reform by casting organizers and participants as anti-police terrorists. This reaction has been seen from figures who head police unions, as well as candidates for the Republican nomination for President. The heated rhetoric from conservatives has only risen with the seeming success of the movement culminating in the recent removal of the President of the University of Missouri.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has upped his irresponsible rhetoric to attack Black Lives Matter in order to attempt to revive his flagging presidential campaign. Conflating unaffiliated attacks on police officers with the movement despite the lack of any evidence connecting the movement to the actions of lone individuals.
This tactic has recently been trumped by Candidate Trump. Who recently had a Black Lives Matter protestor removed from a rally. The protestor was the subject to racial slurs, and physical attacks as he was being thrown out of the venue. Instead of condemning the actions of his supporters Trump condoned those actions stating that “maybe he should’ve been roughed up” when directly questioned about the behavior of those present that night. Trump then doubled down later by disseminating blatantly false racist propaganda misrepresenting crime statistics in an attempt to discredit the movement and the call for criminal justice reform.
This is the national environment in which protestors in Minneapolis have been subject to. Locally protestors were repeatedly threatened by white supremacists before the recent terrorist attack. The terrorists are still at-large and we cannot know for sure whether or not the recent rhetoric from conservative leaders directly influenced them until they are captured and brought in for questioning.
It is disconcerting however that such irresponsible rhetoric and actions point strongly toward such a scenario. This incident should prompt reflection and pause from politicians, union leaders and others of accusing Blacks Lives Matters and others calling for criminal justice reform of being anti-white, and anti-police without any evidence to back those claims.