Jeff Session as J. Edgar Hoover of our era? Photo: Gage Skidmore -Flickr
[The Justice Commentary]
The Fictitious “Black Identity Violence”
The Guardian report on Oct 7, 2017 “FBI Terrorism Unit says Black Identity Extremists pose a violent threat” grabbed my attention and caused me a great deal of concern. The report comes from the leaked August 2017 Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit. It is “déjà vu all over again” as the great Yankee sage, Yogi Berra once said.
In the wake of the 2016 elections that put the Alt-Right in power, the report sounded ominous and eerily familiar. It seems the notorious Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) is being resurrected if it ever was disbanded. The FBI under Trump and Sessions, just as in the McCarthy era, appears to be embarking on a ruse to find threats where non exist and deflect attention from the real violence of Police brutality and White supremacists. Part of that strategy is Trump’s attempt, successfully I might add, to portray the NFL players’ protest against injustice as a disrespect for the flag and the troops.
After a series of murders of young Black men and women –yes women too– by the Police who are invariably found not guilty, the Black Lives Matter movement has been peacefully protesting and reaching out to all communities with some success calling for justice. At least 258 Black men were killed by Police in 2016 according to The Guardian. In addition to the Police killing of young African American men and children –Tamir Rice was only 12– the only other perpetrators of violence we have seen are coming from White supremacists. The massacre of nine peaceful African Americans praying inside a church by the hate-filled racist Dylan Roof is but one of several examples, the most recent one being at the rally of the Klansmen, White supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. A courageous young woman, Heather Heyer, protesting the hate groups was brutally murdered when one White supremacist plowed into the protesting crowd with his car killing her and wounding several others. The hero of these hate groups who now resides on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue said there were “good people” among them — the hate groups.
The reason The Guardian report causes concern is that the Trump administration appears to be targeting those who are calling for justice. I know of no “Black Identity” group. The term “Identity” itself is associated with White Identitarians, one of the many racist hate groups. Could it be the FBI is shifting the blame for the violence from the perpetrators to the victims of that violence?
The FBI has a long history of targeting Black activists and organizations. COINTELPRO was started in 1956 at the height of the anticommunist hysteria during the McCarthy era with J. Edgar Hoover’s directive “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” alleged subversives. Hoover also got to define who fit the criteria of national enemy.
The full weight of this program and its directives was to fall on the various Black civil rights organizations: SCLC, SNCC, NAACP, NOI, Black Panther Party and individual activists such as Martin Luther King, Stockley Carmichael –later Kwame Ture– and Malcolm X. The most infamous extrajudicial actions by the FBI was the gangland-style execution of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and deputy chairman of the national BPP and Mark Clark an activist member of the BPP. Fred was only 21 and Mark 22 years of age.
The current FBI focus on so called Black Identity threat is a cover for an all-out assault by the right extremist government to intimidate and thereby curtail our right to peaceably organize, protest and resist.
We should remain vigilant and not allow a return to the dark days of the COINTELPRO-like illegal targeting of activists and taking extrajudicial measures against citizens exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.