Two weeks after its posting, the White House has finally issued a statement in response to the petition calling for the federal government to recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization.
According to Atlanta Black Star, 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. The petition has since garnered a total of 141,444 signatures, surpassing its goal of 100,000.
“Terrorism is defined as ‘the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,'” the “We The People” petition read. “This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations.”
The appeal goes on to state that the “Black Lives Matter [Movement] 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. 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.”
Because the online petition received at least 100,000 signatures, the White House was automatically prompted to issue a response, CBS News reports.
In its response, the “We the People” team noted that the White House doesn’t have a hand in designating domestic terror groups, nor does the federal government “generate a list of domestic terror organizations.”
“[T]herefore, we are not able to address the formal request of your petition,” the response stated. “We encourage you to engage with your community in the ongoing discussion of how we can better build trust and safety in our communities.”
The statement also went on to acknowledge the rising racial tensions in America as the country continues to grapple with the police shootings of unarmed Black men.
Black Lives Matter originated as a social media hashtag in response to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and 18-year-old Micheal Brown and has since grown into a nationwide movement denouncing police brutality. The White House response urged petition signers to consider President Barack Obama’s words about the organization before quickly labeling it a terrorist group.
“I know that there are some who have criticized even the phrase ‘black lives matter,’ as if the notion is, is that other lives don’t matter,” Obama stated last week during a meeting with law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, and elected officials concerning the issue of racial disparities in the criminal justice system, CBS News reports. “And so you get ‘all lives matter’ or ‘blue lives matter.’ I understand the point they’re trying to make. I think it’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘black lives matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African-Americans that needs to be addressed.”
“And so we shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game, just because that’s not obviously what is intended,” he continued.
As anti-Black Lives Matter advocates continue their push to label the group a terrorist organization, critics of the initiative can’t help but notice that actual hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan have yet to be labeled as terrorists. According to data collected on lynchings compiled by Tuskegee University’s Records and Research Division, the KKK lynched at least 3,446 Black people between 1882 and 1968.
Just last year, the White House also responded to a petition calling for the hate group to be formally recognized as a terrorist group. That petition received 109,568 signatures, almost 32,000 less than the Black Lives Matter appeal.
“The U.S. government has long identified white supremacy extremists among the domestic terrorism threats confronting our nation, and the existence of such groups represents a continued threat to the ideals of our nation,” the White House response read.