Just last week, a group of gun-toting, Confederate flag-waving members of the White Lives Matter movement surrounded the Houston NAACP headquarters to demand accountability for the “attacks and killings of white police officers.” Now, the Southern Poverty Law Center is moving to designate the white supremacist organization as a hate group.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the White Lives Matter movement will be listed as a hate group on the nonprofit’s annual Hate Map, which is set to be released in February. The Hate Map is a compilation of the nation’s known hate groups and their chapter locations.
“I can’t speak to how many chapters will be listed, but it’s clear that the leadership of the group, the ends of the group — it’s just a flat-out white supremacist group,” Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s Intelligence Report, told Chron.com. “The ideology behind it, the racist leaders, everything about it is racist.”
The SPLC has identified 40-year-old Rebecca Barnette as the group’s notorious leader. Barnett also reportedly serves as vice president of the women’s division of the Aryan Strikeforce, a skinhead group.
In a post on Russian social networking site vk.com, the White Lives Matter leader wrote that “Jews and Muslims have formed an alliance ‘to commit genocide of epic proportions” of the white race,” according to the SPLC’s Intelligence report. Now is the time for ‘the blood of our enemies [to] soak our soil to form new mortar to rebuild our landmasses,'” Barnett added.
Beirich said Barnett’s background and the rhetoric of the White Lives Matter movement undoubtedly indicate their push for white supremacy.
“The only question is how widespread they are, how many chapters there are,” she said.
Earlier this year, there was a petition launched to designate Black Lives Matter — the civil rights organization that inspired the White Lives Matter antithesis — as a terror group. According to the petitioner, BLM earned the title of a terrorist organization due the unrest that followed the police shootings of Black men in Baltimore and Ferguson, as well as the deadly ambush on officers in downtown Dallas.
“Terrorism is defined as ‘the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,’” the “We The People” petition read. “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 petition received over 100,000 signatures, the White House was automatically prompted to issue a response. That response happened to be a letter of rejection.
In declining to designate BLM as a hate group, 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,” their response read. “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 SPLC doesn’t think BLM should be labeled a hate group either. The center points out that the social justice organization “seeks to promote a race that has been marginalized throughout history” and that the movement’s leaders have consistently condemned violence. It should also be noted that people of all races and religions have stood in solidarity with the BLM movement.
The same simply cannot be said about White Lives Matter.
According to the SPLC, there has a been a spike in the number of hate groups since the turn of the century “driven in part by anger over Latino immigration and demographic projections showing that whites will no longer hold majority status in the nation.” This rise was accelerated by the election of Pres. Barack Obama, but began to level off and decline in 2011.