Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Counterterrorism Division released a 12-page law enforcement sensitive report entitled, “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement.” Fresh on the heels of what many in the nation called a terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va. the report leaks to the public and causes panic in the black community.
During his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was not aware of an FBI report on black identity extremists. Rep. Karen Bass (Dem-California 37th District) asked him why there was not a similar report on activities by white nationalists. Ironically, as the protest against equality and injustice continues, the leaked FBI report has members of Congress, social activists, and in particular, Congresswoman Bass demanding answers.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond called it outlandish and offensive. According to the Chairman, it suggests that a person who identifies as black is automatically a threat. Today, entirely nonviolent black activists face potential violent situations and violations of their civil liberties if they are identified as black extremists.
During a hearing, Representative Bass asked the Attorney General a series of questions about the contents of the “Black Identity Extremists” report that he could not answer. She asked:
Could you name an African-American organization that has committed violence against police officers? Can you name one today that has targeted police officers in a violent manner?
Sessions, according to his own testimony, had not read the report and did not render definitive responses. Bass wanted to express the overarching concern of black activists around the country as it relates to their safety. The fear is that America is on the verge of repeating a very sad and dark chapter in its history where people who are rightfully protesting are now being targeted and labeled as extremists. The Congresswoman asked Sessions how his department intends to protect the rights of average citizens who decide to protest if they have a concern about police officers. The Attorney General replied:
This department will not unlawfully target people.
In addition to questions about the controversial August FBI report, Sessions was peppered with questions about the Trump administration’s lack of diversity including the number of Black judicial nominees to sit on the federal bench.
Bass, along with other members of Congress, believed Sessions was “trying to be evasive” in his answers. The Congresswoman found it revealing that he could not specifically name one modern black organization responsible for the deaths of police officers. Bass is concerned that the actions of any African American can and will be used to smear an entire movement.
This report has sparked an outcry across the country from Black America and others who oppose what the documents suggest in reference to African Americans. One person said:
I agree that the new, targeted group “BIE” is the empowered-Racist’s vehicle for future “justifiable murders” of any and all Blacks who those Racists choose to identify as “BIE” by federal, state, and local law enforcement. I don’t agree that Blacks present any danger to non-Racist Whites and do agree that any danger Blacks present to Racist Whites (including those Racists who coined “BIE”) who support ANY negativity toward ANY Blacks, is wholly justifiable.
As America continues to process the aftermath of the white nationalist violence that occurred in Charlottesville, it seems the government wants to shift the focus to another emerging terrorist threat called “Black Identity Extremists.” Rep. Karen Bass drills Jeff Sessions on the theory. The “Black Identity Extremists” report appears to focus on outdated information and the hope is that discussions such as these remain in the forefront with accountability checks in place.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
African American Reports: Congresswoman Karen Bass questions Jeff Sessions on Black Identity Extremist
Southern Poverty Law Center: FBI ‘Black Identity Extremists’ report stirs controversy
New York Times: The F.B.I.’s Dangerous Crackdown on ‘Black Identity Extremists’
Top Image Courtesy of Africa Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline/Featured Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License