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FBI says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ are the new terrorist threat

October 13, 2017

A man in a Black Lives Matter hoodie stands on the lawn of the Capitol Building lawn during the rally on Oct. 10, 2015, marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. Does that shirt make him a “Black Identity Extremist”? – Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

by Erin White

In a disturbing report dated from Aug. 3 – just nine days before white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville for an event that killed anti-racism protester Heather Heyer – the FBI was busying itself with a report that manufactured threats from so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE):

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” the report reads.

The concept of a BIE is an entirely new one, but the white government, and the FBI specifically, has manufactured threats out of Black resistance since its inception – from the FBI’s abuse of Martin Luther King Jr. to the assassinations of Black Panther Party leaders through its COINTELPRO op. And now, in 2017, the FBI is targeting Black activists in general, under the umbrella of “Black Identity Extremism.”

The FBI has manufactured threats out of Black resistance since its inception – from the FBI’s abuse of Martin Luther King Jr. to the assassinations of Black Panther Party leaders through its COINTELPRO op.

“Basically, it’s Black people who scare them,” former FBI agent Michael German said to Foreign Policy.

The leaked FBI intelligence assessment obtained and released last week by Foreign Policy lists six cases involving “individuals with BIE ideological motivations who have committed targeted, premeditated attacks against law enforcement officers since 2014,” “speculating,” according to ThinkProgress, “that those isolated incidents may be part of a swelling trend that would lead others to do likewise.

“Compare the FBI figures to a Washington Post database of police shootings that found 173 Black people were fatally shot by police in 2017 alone. Put another way, the FBI can’t imagine any pattern to the spate of police shootings, often caught on camera, of Black Americans, yet it found a half-dozen instances of crimes committed by a Black person since 2014 and linked them into a scary anti-American, anti-police and anti-Trump crime wave.

“The uber-message: Be afraid, white America, Black people are coming to get you,” concludes ThinkProgress.

“The uber-message: Be afraid, white America, Black people are coming to get you.”

Though the FBI report does not mention Black Lives Matter by name, the six acts of premeditated violence the report links to “BIEs” includes the July 2016 shooting of 11 police officers in Dallas during one of the several organized marches against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile held on July 7, 2016.

The shooter, former Army serviceman Micah Xavier Johnson, was said to have been motivated by his anger over police shootings of unarmed Black men. Because of the FBI’s fear of his anger – and reported history of violence in the workplace and untreated mental illness – and his social media support of the New Black Panther Party and Black Riders Liberation Army and any Black activism deemed to emphasize identity too “extremely,” all of us have cause to worry about our rights and privacy.

“This is a new umbrella designation that has no basis,” a former senior counterterrorism and intelligence official from the Department of Homeland Security told Foreign Policy. “There are civil rights and privacy issues all over this.”

Erin White writes for Afropunk, where this story first appeared. She can be reached on LinkedIn. Bay View staff contributed to this report.

3 thoughts on “FBI says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ are the new terrorist threat

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