|Advocates slam FBI ‘black identity extremists’ report|
|Designation follows police brutality protests|
|Published Sunday, October 22, 2017 10:08 pm|
WASHINGTON – Civil rights groups are speaking out against a report by the FBI's counterterrorism division that included warnings about "black identity extremists."
A government report marked for official use only was recently leaked to Foreign Policy magazine. In it the bureau warned, "perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will likely serve as justification for such violence."
Malik Russell, director of communications with the NAACP, said this new designation creates a false equivalency between groups fighting for racial equality and those fighting against it.
“There's no history of Black Lives Matter targeting people of a certain background or racial identity and murdering them or torturing them,” Russell said "You can't compare an organization fighting to end police brutality to organizations fighting to maintain white supremacy."
The primary incidents cited in the report were the July 2016 attack in Dallas in which a man, reportedly angry about police killings of African-Americans, killed five police officers; and the riots in Ferguson, Mo., after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown.
President Trump has been criticized for saying there were some “good people” among the armed, torch-wielding marchers attending a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it is de-prioritizing funding to combat white-supremacist groups.
Russell said this new focus at the FBI is a continuation of divisive statements made by Trump.
“We do have a real threat in the United States, and that's right-wing extremists, white nationalists and white supremacists who have been emboldened by this administration's rhetoric,” he said.
Russell noted that the FBI has a history of targeting African-American leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. He added that there is no connection between scattered acts of violence against police officers and the established political groups fighting for racial justice.
The FBI declined to comment on the leaked report.
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