A petition calling for the U.S. Department of Defense to designate Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization has been signed by over 23,000 people Friday evening.
The appeal was created on July 6, one day ahead of the sniper shootings that killed five officers and injured seven others in downtown Dallas Thursday night. The number of signatures has grown exponentially in the hours since.
“Black Lives Matter has earned this title due to its actions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and even at a Bernie Sanders rally, as well as all over the United States and Canada,” the whitehouse.gov petition posted by an individual known simply as Y.S. reads. “It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare Black Lives Matter a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) referenced in the petition, has tortured, enslaved, beheaded, bombed countless innocents in the name of Sharia law, a strict Islamic code used by extremists to sanction mass killings and other acts of terror against non Muslims or non-compliant adherents of the faith.
The Black Lives Matter movement, co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, began as a hashtag to affirm the humanity of a group of Americans whose lives they saw as “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”
Citizens invoking the name of the movement began to mobilize, forming chapters in cities rocked by the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police. In Ferguson, Staten Island, and Baltimore, the overwhelming majority of demonstrators assembled in peaceful protest, yet the small segments of violent, destructive dissenters become inextricably linked to the organization.
The pattern appears to be happening in Dallas, where police have identified ex-Army reservist Micah Xavier Johnson as seemingly the lone gunman responsible for the carnage. Dallas police chief David Brown said Johnson told negotiators during the standoff that he “was not affiliated with any groups” and that “he did this alone”. Multiple news organizations have cited law enforcement sources as saying Johnson had no criminal record nor any direct ties to any terror organizations or political groups, including Black Lives Matter.
Which begs the question, why doesn’t African American Micah Johnson get the same lone wolf label as Charleston shooter Dylann Roof? Why the need to link the thoughts and actions of individual Black Americans to a larger group?
BLM representatives condemned Thursday’s shootings in a message titled, “The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for dignity, justice, and respect”, published to the official website Friday.
“In the last few days, this country witnessed the recorded murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, the latest victims in this country’s failed policing system. As we have done for decades, we marched and protested to highlight the urgent need to transform policing in America, to call for justice, transparency and accountability, and to demand that Black Lives Matter.
In Dallas, many gathered to do the same, joining in a day of action with friends, family, and co-workers. Their efforts were cut short when a lone gunman targeted and attacked 11 police officers, killing five. This is a tragedy—both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy. There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this.
Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”
The petition has until August 5, 2016, to obtain 100,000 signatures – the number that elicits a response from White House officials.