Black Lives Matter
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|Formation||July 13, 2013|
|Purpose||Advocacy and protests against racial discrimination|
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized political and social movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people. While Black Lives Matter can primarily be understood as a decentralized social movement, an organization known simply as Black Lives Matter[a] exists as a decentralized network with about 16 chapters in the United States and Canada. The broader movement and its related organizations typically advocate against police violence towards black people, as well as for various other policy changes considered to be related to black liberation.
In July 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin 17 months earlier, in February 2012. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a city near St. Louis—and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists became involved in the 2016 United States presidential election. The originators of the hashtag and call to action, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016. The overall Black Lives Matter movement is a decentralized network of activists with no formal hierarchy.
The movement returned to national headlines and gained further international attention during the global George Floyd protests in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. An estimated 15 million to 26 million people participated (though not all are "members" of the organization) in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, making Black Lives Matter one of the largest movements in U.S. history. The movement has advocated to defund the police and invest directly into black communities and alternative emergency response models.
The popularity of Black Lives Matter has rapidly shifted over time. Whereas public opinion on Black Lives Matter was net negative in 2018, it grew increasingly popular through 2019 and 2020. A June 2020 Pew Research Center poll found that the majority of Americans, across all racial and ethnic groups, have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Structure and organization
The phrase "Black Lives Matter" can refer to a Twitter hashtag, a slogan, a social movement, a political action committee, or a loose confederation of groups advocating for racial justice. As a movement, Black Lives Matter is grassroots and decentralized, and leaders have emphasized the importance of local organizing over national leadership. The structure differs from previous black movements, like the Civil Rights Movement. Such differences have been the subject of scholarly literature. Activist DeRay McKesson has commented that the movement "encompasses all who publicly declare that black lives matter and devote their time and energy accordingly."
In 2013, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi formed the Black Lives Matter Network. Garza described the network as an online platform that existed to provide activists with a shared set of principles and goals. Local Black Lives Matter chapters are asked to commit to the organization's list of guiding principles but operate without a central structure or hierarchy. Garza has commented that the Network was not interested in "policing who is and who is not part of the movement."
The loose structure of Black Lives Matter has contributed to confusion in the press and among activists, as actions or statements from chapters or individuals are sometimes attributed to "Black Lives Matter" as a whole. Matt Pearce, writing for the Los Angeles Times, commented that "the words could be serving as a political rallying cry or referring to the activist organization. Or it could be the fuzzily applied label used to describe a wide range of protests and conversations focused on racial inequality."
According to the Black Lives Matter Network website, there are thirteen guiding principles that should apply to those who choose to become involved under the Black Lives Matter banner, among them: diversity, globalism, empathy, restorative justice and intergenerationality.
Concurrently, a broader movement involving several other organizations and activists emerged under the banner of "Black Lives Matter", as well. For example, BLM is a member organization of the Movement for Black Lives, which was established to respond to sustained and increasingly visible violence against black communities in the U.S. and globally. In 2015, Johnetta Elzie, DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe initiated Campaign Zero, aimed at promoting policy reforms to end police brutality. The campaign released a ten-point plan for reforms to policing, with recommendations including: ending broken windows policing, increasing community oversight of police departments, and creating stricter guidelines for the use of force. The New York Times reporter, John Eligon, wrote that some activists had expressed concerns that the campaign was overly focused on legislative remedies for police violence.
Black Lives Matter also voices support for movements and causes outside the reach of black police brutality, including LGBTQ activism, feminism, immigration reform and economic justice.
Funding of the movement
Movement For Black Lives (M4BL)
Politico reported in 2015 that the Democracy Alliance, a gathering of Democratic-Party donors, planned to meet with leaders of several groups who were endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Politico, Solidaire, the donor coalition focusing on "movement building" and led by Texas oil fortune heir Leah Hunt-Hendrix, a member of the Democracy Alliance, had donated more than $200,000 to the BLM movement by 2015. In 2016, the Ford Foundation announced plans to fund the M4BL Movement For Black Lives in a "six-year investments" plan, further partnering up with others to found the Black-led Movement Fund.
The sum donated by the Ford Foundation and the other donors to M4BL was reported as $100 million by The Washington Times in 2016; another donation of $33 million to M4BL was reportedly issued by the Open Society Foundations.
In 2016, M4BL, which comprises Black Lives Matter and 60 other organizations, called for decarceration in the United States, reparations for harms related to slavery, and more recently, specific remedies for redlining in housing, education policy, mass incarceration and food insecurity. It also called for an end to mass surveillance, investment in public education, not incarceration, and community control of the police: empowering residents in communities of color to hire and fire police officers and issue subpoenas, decide disciplinary consequences and exercise control over city funding of police.
In 2020, NPR reported that the Washington D.C. Black Lives Matter chapter's demands were defunding the police, halting the construction of new jails, decriminalizing sex work, removing police from schools, exonerating protesters and abolishing cash bail in Maryland.
Strategies and tactics
Black Lives Matter originally used various social media platforms—including hashtag activism—to reach thousands of people rapidly. Since then, Black Lives Matter has embraced a diversity of tactics.
In 2014, the American Dialect Society chose #BlackLivesMatter as their word of the year. Yes! Magazine picked #BlackLivesMatter as one of the twelve hashtags that changed the world in 2014. From July 2013 through May 1, 2018, the hashtag "#Black Lives Matter" had been tweeted over 30 million times, an average of 17,002 times per day. By June 10, 2020, it had been tweeted roughly 47.8 million times, with the period of July 7–17, 2016 having the highest usage, at nearly 500,000 tweets a day.[b] On May 28, 2020, there were nearly 8.8 million tweets with the hashtag, and the average had increased to 3.7 million a day.
The 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers saw the online tone of the movement become more negative than before, with 39% of tweets using the hastag #BlackLivesMatter expressing opposition to the movement. Nearly half in opposition tied the group to violence with many decrying the group to be terrorist.
Khadijah White, a professor at Rutgers University, argues that BLM has ushered in a new era of black university student movements. The ease with which bystanders can record graphic videos of police violence and post them onto social media has driven activism all over the world. The hashtag's usage has gained the attention of high-ranking politicians and has sometimes encouraged them to support the movement.
BLM generally engages in direct action tactics that make people uncomfortable enough that they must address the issue. BLM has been known to build power through protest and rallies. BLM has also staged die-ins and held one during the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon.
Political slogans used during demonstrations include the eponymous "Black Lives Matter", "Hands up, don't shoot" (a later discredited reference attributed to Michael Brown), "I can't breathe" (referring to Eric Garner), "White silence is violence", "No justice, no peace", and "Is my son next?", among others.
According to a 2018 study, "Black Lives Matter protests are more likely to occur in localities where more black people have previously been killed by police."
Media, music, and other cultural impacts
Since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, the movement has been depicted and documented in film, song, television, literature, and the visual arts. A number of media outlets are providing material related to racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Published books, novels, and TV shows have increased in popularity in 2020. Songs, such as Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us" and Kendrick Lamar's "Alright", have been widely used as a rallying call at demonstrations.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc., a global organization in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, established Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture to add to and maintain cultural awareness of this movement, uplift black artists, and diversify art institutions in keeping with the "art culture of the Civil rights, Black Power, and Women's rights movements" of the 1960s and 1970s.
The short documentary film, Bars4justice, features brief appearances by various activists and recording artists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. The film is an official selection of the 24th Annual Pan African Film Festival. Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement is a 2016 American television documentary film, starring Jesse Williams about the Black Lives Matter movement.
The February 2015 issue of Essence magazine and the cover was devoted to Black Lives Matter. In December 2015, BLM was a contender for the Time magazine Person of the Year award, coming in fourth of the eight candidates.
A number of cities have painted murals of "Black Lives Matter" in large letters on their streets. The cities include Washington, D.C., Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, Seattle, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Birmingham, Alabama.
On May 9, 2016, Delrish Moss was sworn in as the first African-American police chief in Ferguson, Missouri. He acknowledged that he faces such challenges as diversifying the police force, improving community relations, and addressing issues that catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police use of excessive force
According to a study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2002 to 2011, among those who had contact with the police, "blacks (2.8%) were more likely than whites (1.0%) and Hispanics (1.4%) to perceive the threat or use of nonfatal force was excessive."
According to The Washington Post, police officers shot and killed 1,001 people in the United States in 2019. About half of those killed were white, and one quarter were black, making the rate of deaths for black Americans (31 fatal shootings per million) more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans (13 fatal shootings per million). The Washington Post also counts 13 unarmed black Americans shot dead by police in 2019.
A 2019 study by Cesario et al. published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that after adjusting for crime, there was "no systematic evidence of anti-black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects". However, a 2020 study by Ross et al. criticizes the data analysis used in the Cesario et al. study. Using the same data set, Ross et al. conclude that there is significant racial bias in police shooting cases involving unarmed black suspects. This bias is not seen when suspects were armed.
A study by Harvard economist Roland Fryer found that blacks and Hispanics were 50% more likely to experience non-lethal force in police interactions, but for officer-involved shootings there were "no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account".
A study in PLOS One found "significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans" by police. The average bias measure was that unarmed African Americans had 3.49 times the probability of being shot compared to unarmed whites, although in some jurisdictions the risk could be as much as 20 times higher. The study also found that the documented racial bias in police shootings could not be explained by differences in local crime rates.
A study published in the journal Nature found that official government statistics of police brutality were potentially compromised by Simpson's paradox. It argued that if a black person was more likely to be encountered by police or pulled over for no justifiable reason, and a white person only interacted with police for serious crimes where they were definitely guilty, then the additional unnecessary police encounters with black people means that black people have many more interactions with police in non-deadly situations — a dynamic exacerbated by racism. Which artificially dilutes the official black death rate per police encounter and consequently create misleading statistics.[clarification needed]
Timeline of notable US events and demonstrations
In 2014, Black Lives Matter demonstrated against the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions, including those of Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Antonio Martin, and Jerame Reid, among others.
In July, Eric Garner died in New York City, after a New York City Police Department officer put him in a banned chokehold while arresting him. Garner's death has been cited as one of several police killings of African Americans that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
In August, during Labor Day weekend, Black Lives Matter organized a "Freedom Ride", that brought more than 500 African-Americans from across the United States into Ferguson, Missouri, to support the work being done on the ground by local organizations. The movement continued to be involved in the Ferguson unrest, following the death of Michael Brown. The protests at times came into conflict with local and state police departments, who typically responded in an armed manner. At one point the National Guard was called in and a state of emergency was declared.
In November, a New York City Police Department officer shot and killed, Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old African-American man. Gurley's death was later protested by Black Lives Matter in New York City. In Oakland, California, fourteen Black Lives Matter activists were arrested after they stopped a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train for more than an hour on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. The protest, led by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, was organized in response to the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Mike Brown.
Also in November, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer. Rice's death has also been cited as contributing to "sparking" the Black Lives Matter movement.
In December, two to three thousand people gathered at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police. The police at the mall were equipped with riot gear and bomb-sniffing dogs; at least twenty members of the protest were arrested.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, BLM protested the police shooting of Dontre Hamilton, who died in April. Black Lives Matter protested the shooting of John Crawford III. The shooting of Renisha McBride was protested by Black Lives Matter.
Also in December, in response to the decision by the grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson on any charges related to the death of Michael Brown, a protest march was held in Berkeley, California. Later, in 2015, protesters and journalists who participated in that rally filed a lawsuit alleging "unconstitutional police attacks" on attendees.
A week after the Michael Brown verdict, two police officers were killed in New York City by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who expressed a desire to kill police officers in retribution for the deaths of Garner and Brown. Black Lives Matter condemned the shooting, though some right-wing media attempted to connect the group to it, with the Patrolman's Benevolent Association president claiming that there was "blood on [the] hands [of] those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests". A conservative television commentator also attempted to connect Black Lives Matter to protesters chanting that they wanted to see "dead cops," at the December "Millions March" which was organized by different groups.
In 2015, Black Lives Matter demonstrated against the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions, including those of Charley Leundeu Keunang, Tony Robinson, Anthony Hill, Meagan Hockaday, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, William Chapman, Jonathan Sanders, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Jeremy McDole, Corey Jones, and Jamar Clark as well Dylan Roof's murder of The Charleston Nine.
In March, BLM protested at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, demanding reforms within the Chicago Police Department. Charley Leundeu Keunang, a 43-year-old Cameroonian national, was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Department officers. The LAPD arrested fourteen following BLM demonstrations.
In April, Black Lives Matter across the United States protested over the death of Freddie Gray which included the 2015 Baltimore protests. The National Guard was called in. After the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, Black Lives Matter protested Scott's death and called for citizen oversight of police.
In May, a protest by BLM in San Francisco was part of a nationwide protest, Say Her Name, decrying the police killing of black women and girls, which included the deaths of Meagan Hockaday, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, and others. In Cleveland, Ohio, after an officer was acquitted at trial in the shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, BLM protested. In Madison, Wisconsin, BLM protested after the officer was not charged in the shooting of Tony Robinson.
In June, after Dylann Roof's shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, BLM issued a statement and condemned the shooting as an act of terror.[deprecated source] BLM across the country marched, protested and held vigil for several days after the shooting. BLM was part of a march for peace on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in South Carolina. After the Charleston shooting, a number of memorials to the Confederate States of America were graffitied with "Black Lives Matter" or otherwise vandalized. Around 800 people protested in McKinney, Texas after a video was released showing an officer pinning a girl—at a pool party in McKinney, Texas—to the ground with his knees.
In July, BLM activists across the United States began protests over the death of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman, who was allegedly found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. In Cincinnati, Ohio, BLM rallied and protested the death of Samuel DuBose after he was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer. In Newark, New Jersey, over a thousand BLM activists marched against police brutality, racial injustice, and economic inequality. Also in July, BLM protested the death of Jonathan Sanders who died while being arrested by police in Mississippi.
In August, BLM organizers held a rally in Washington, D.C., calling for a stop to violence against transgender women. In Charlotte, North Carolina, after a judge declared a mistrial in the trial of a white Charlotte police officer who killed an unarmed black man, Jonathan Ferrell, BLM protested and staged die-ins. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, and other BLM activists marched through North Philadelphia to bring awareness to police brutality and Black Lives Matter. Around August 9, the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death, BLM rallied, held vigil and marched in St. Louis and across the country.
In September, over five hundred BLM protesters in Austin, Texas rallied against police brutality, and several briefly carried protest banners onto Interstate 35. In Baltimore, Maryland, BLM activists marched and protested as hearings began in the Freddie Gray police brutality case. In Sacramento, California, about eight hundred BLM protesters rallied to support a California Senate bill that would increase police oversight. BLM protested the shooting of Jeremy McDole.
In October, Black Lives Matter activists were arrested during a protest of a police chiefs conference in Chicago. "Rise Up October" straddled the Black Lives Matter Campaign, and brought several protests. Quentin Tarantino and Cornel West, participating in "Rise Up October", decried police violence.
In November, BLM activists protested after Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis Police Department. A continuous protest was organized at the Minneapolis 4th Precinct Police. During the encamped protest, protesters, and outside agitators clashed with police, vandalized the station and attempted to ram the station with an SUV. Later that month a march was organized to honor Jamar Clark, from the 4th Precinct to downtown Minneapolis. After the march, a group of men carrying firearms and body armor appeared and began calling the protesters racial slurs according to a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter. After protesters asked the armed men to leave, the men opened fire, shooting five protesters. All injuries required hospitalization, but were not life-threatening. The men fled the scene only to be found later and arrested. The three men arrested were young and white, and observers called them white supremacists. In February 2017, one of the men arrested, Allen Scarsella, was convicted of a dozen felony counts of assault and riot in connection with the shooting. Based in part on months of racist messages Scarsella had sent his friends before the shooting, the judge rejected arguments by his defense that Scarsella was "naïve" and sentenced him in April 2017 to 15 years out of a maximum 20-year sentence.
From November into 2016, BLM protested the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, calling for the resignation of numerous Chicago officials in the wake of the shooting and its handling. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
In 2016, Black Lives Matter demonstrated against the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions, including those of Bruce Kelley Jr., Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Abdirahman Abdi, Paul O'Neal, Korryn Gaines, Sylville Smith, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Alfred Olango, and Deborah Danner, among others.
In January, hundreds of BLM protesters marched in San Francisco to protest the December 2, 2015, shooting death of Mario Woods, who was shot by San Francisco Police officers. The march was held during a Super Bowl event. BLM held protests, community meetings, teach-ins, and direct actions across the country with the goal of "reclaim[ing] the radical legacy of Martin Luther King Jr."
In February, Abdullahi Omar Mohamed, a 17-year-old Somali refugee, was shot and injured by Salt Lake City, Utah, police after allegedly being involved in a confrontation with another person. The shooting led to BLM protests.
In June, members of BLM and Color of Change protested the California conviction and sentencing of Jasmine Richards for a 2015 incident in which she attempted to stop a police officer from arresting another woman. Richards was convicted of "attempting to unlawfully take a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer", a charge that the state penal code had designated as "lynching" until that word was removed two months prior to the incident.
On July 5, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot several times at point-blank range while pinned to the ground by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On the night of July 5, more than 100 demonstrators in Baton Rouge shouted "no justice, no peace," set off fireworks, and blocked an intersection to protest Sterling's death. On July 6, Black Lives Matter held a candlelight vigil in Baton Rouge, with chants of "We love Baton Rouge" and calls for justice.
On July 6, Philando Castile was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Castile was driving a car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter as passengers when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer. According to his girlfriend, after being asked for his license and registration, Castile told the officer he was licensed to carry a weapon and had one in the car. She stated: "The officer said don't move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times." She live-streamed a video on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Following the fatal shooting of Castile, BLM protested throughout Minnesota and the United States.
On July 7, a BLM protest was held in Dallas, Texas that was organized to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. At the end of the peaceful protest, Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire in an ambush, killing five police officers and wounding seven others and two civilians. The gunman was then killed by a robot-delivered bomb. Before he died, according to police, Johnson said that "he was upset about Black Lives Matter", and that "he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers." Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and other conservative lawmakers blamed the shootings on the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter network released a statement denouncing the shootings. On July 8, more than 100 people were arrested at Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.
In the first half of July, there were at least 112 protests in 88 American cities. On July 13, NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade opened the 2016 ESPY Awards with a Black Lives Matter message. On July 26, Black Lives Matter held a protest in Austin, Texas, to mark the third anniversary of the shooting death of Larry Jackson Jr. On July 28, Chicago Police Department officers shot Paul O'Neal in the back and killed him following a car chase. After the shooting, hundreds marched in Chicago, Illinois.
In Randallstown, Maryland, near Baltimore, on August 1, police officers shot and killed Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old African-American woman, also shooting and injuring her son. Gaines' death was protested in Baltimore.
In August, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Black Lives Matter protested the death of Bruce Kelley Jr. who was shot after fatally stabbing a police dog while trying to escape from police the previous January.
In August, several professional athletes began participating in National Anthem protests. The protests began in the National Football League (NFL) after Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat during the anthem, as opposed to the tradition of standing, before his team's third preseason game of 2016. During a post-game interview he explained his position stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder," a protest widely interpreted as in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests have generated mixed reactions, and have since spread to other U.S. sports leagues.
In September, BLM protested the shooting deaths by police officers of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer reported "The protesters began to gather as night fell, hours after the shooting. They held signs that said 'Stop Killing Us' and 'Black Lives Matter,' and they chanted 'No justice, no peace.' The scene was sometimes chaotic and tense, with water bottles and stones chucked at police lines, but many protesters called for peace and implored their fellow demonstrators not to act violently." Multiple nights of protests in September and October were held in El Cajon, California, following the shooting of Alfred Olango.
In 2017, in Black History Month, a month-long "Black Lives Matter" art exhibition was organized by three Richmond, Virginia artists at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond in the Byrd Park area of the city. The show featured more than 30 diverse multicultural artists on a theme exploring racial equality and justice.
In the same month Virginia Commonwealth University's James Branch Cabell Library focused on a month-long schedule of events relating to African-American history and showed photos from the church's "Black Lives Matter" exhibition on its outdoor screen. The VCU schedule of events also included: the Real Life Film Series The Angry Heart: The Impact of Racism on Heart Disease among African-Americans; Keith Knight presented the 14th Annual VCU Libraries Black History Month lecture; Lawrence Ross, author of the book Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses talked about how his book related to the "Black Lives Matter" movement; and Velma P. Scantlebury, M.D., the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States, discussed "Health Equity in Kidney Transplantation: Experiences from a surgeon's perspective."
Black Lives Matter protested the shooting of Jocques Clemmons which occurred in Nashville, Tennessee on February 10, 2017. On May 12, 2017, a day after Glenn Funk, the district attorney of Davidson County decided not to prosecute police officer Joshua Lippert, the Nashville chapter of BLM held a demonstration near the Vanderbilt University campus all the way to the residence of Nashville mayor Megan Barry.
On September 27, 2017, at the College of William & Mary, students associated with Black Lives Matter protested an ACLU event because the ACLU had fought for the right of Unite the Right rally to be held in Charlottesville, Virginia. William & Mary's president Taylor Reveley responded with a statement defending the college's commitment to open debate.
In February and March, as part of its social justice focus, First Unitarian Church Church of Richmond, Virginia in Richmond, Virginia presented its Second Annual Black Lives Matter Art Exhibition. Works of art in the exhibition were projected at scheduled hours on the large exterior screen (jumbotron) at Virginia Commonwealth University's Cabell Library. Artists with art in the exhibition were invited to discuss their work in the Black Lives Matter show as it was projected at an evening forum in a small amphitheater at VCU's Hibbs Hall. They were also invited to exhibit afterward at a local showing of the film A Raisin in the Sun.
In April 2018, CNN reported that the largest Facebook account claiming to be a part of the "Black Lives Matter" movement was a "scam" tied to a white man in Australia. The account, with 700,000 followers, linked to fundraisers that raised $100,000 or more, purportedly for U.S. Black Lives Matter causes; however, some of the money was instead transferred to Australian banks accounts, according to CNN. Facebook has suspended the offending page.
On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. Arbery had been pursued and confronted by three white residents driving two vehicles, including a father and son who were armed. All three men have been indicted on nine counts, including felony murder.
On March 13, Louisville police officers knocked down the apartment door of 26-year-old African American Breonna Taylor, serving a no-knock search warrant for drug suspicions. Police fired several shots during the encounter which led to her death. Her boyfriend who was present at the time had called 911 and said, "someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend". Protests were held in Louisville with calls for police reform.
On May 25, Christian Cooper, a black bird-watcher at New York's Central Park experienced a confrontation with a white woman after he asked her to put her dog on a leash in the Ramble, a no-dogs-off-leash area. The interaction escalated when the white woman called the police to say that an African American man was threatening her. On July 6, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced that the woman would be charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
George Floyd protests
At the end of May, spurred on by a rash of racially charged events including those above, over 450 major protests were held in cities and towns across the United States and three continents. The breaking point was due primarily to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, eventually charged with second degree murder after a video circulated showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for his life, repeating, "I can't breathe." Following protesters' demands for additional prosecutions, three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder.
Black Lives Matter organized rallies in the United States and worldwide from May 30 onwards, with protesters enacting Floyd's final moments, many lying down in streets and on bridges, yelling "I can't breathe," while others marched by the thousands, some carrying signs that read, "Tell your brother in blue, don't shoot"—"Who do you call when the murderer wears a badge?" and "Justice for George Floyd." While global in nature and supported by several unassociated organizations, the Black Lives Matter movement has been inextricably linked to these monumental protests. Black Lives Matter called to "defund the police", a slogan with varying interpretations from police abolition to divestment from police and prisons to reinvestment in social services in communities of color.
On June 5, 2020, Washington, D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that part of the street outside of the White House had been officially renamed to Black Lives Matter Plaza posted with a street sign.
On June 7, 2020, in the wake of global George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter's call to "defund the police", the Minneapolis City Council voted to "disband its police department" to shift funding to social programs in communities of color. City Council President Lisa Bender said, "Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period." The council vote came after the Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.
On July 20, the Strike for Black Lives, organized in part by Black Lives Matter, featured thousands of workers across the United States performing a walkout to raise awareness of systemic racism following Floyd's death.
From 22 May to 22 August 2020, there were more than 10,600 BLM protest events in the United States.
The U.S. population's perception of Black Lives Matter varies considerably by race; however, the majority of Americans, across all racial and ethnic groups, have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. A 2020 Pew Research Center poll found that 60% of white, 77% of Hispanic, 75% of Asian and 86% of African-Americans either "strongly support" or "somewhat support" BLM.
The phrase "All Lives Matter" sprang up as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, but has been criticized for dismissing or misunderstanding the message of "Black Lives Matter". Following the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, the hashtag Blue Lives Matter was created by supporters of the police. A few civil rights leaders have disagreed with tactics used by Black Lives Matter activists. Public and academic debate at large has arisen over the structure and tactics used.
In the weeks following the death of George Floyd, many corporations came out in support of the movement, donating and enacting policy changes in accordance with group's ethos.
BLM international movement
This section needs to be updated.June 2020)(
In 2015, after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, black activists around the world modeled efforts for reform on Black Lives Matter and the Arab Spring. This international movement has been referred to as the "Black Spring". Connections have also been forged with parallel international efforts such as the Dalit rights movement.
Following the death of Ms Dhu in police custody in August 2014, protests often made reference to the BLM movement. In July 2016, a BLM rally was organized in Melbourne, Australia, which 3,500 people attended. The protest also emphasized the issues of mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians by the Australian police and government.
In early June 2020, following the recent George Floyd protests in the US, there were protests across Australia, with many of them focusing on the local issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody, racism in Australia and other injustices faced by Indigenous Australians. Cricketer Michael Holding critiqued Australia, as well as England, for refusing to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter during cricket matches.
In July 2015, BLM protesters shut down Allen Road in Toronto, Ontario, protesting the shooting deaths of two black men in the metropolitan area—Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby—at the hands of police. In September, BLM activists shut down streets in Toronto, citing police brutality and solidarity with "marginalized black lives" as reason for the shutdown. Black Lives Matter was a featured part of the Take Back the Night event in Toronto.
In June 2016, Black Lives Matter was selected by Pride Toronto as the honored group in that year's Pride parade, during which they staged a sit-in to block the parade from moving forward for approximately half an hour. They issued several demands for Pride to adjust its relationship with LGBTQ people of color, including stable funding and a suitable venue for the established Blockorama event, improved diversity in the organization's staff and volunteer base, and that Toronto Police officers be banned from marching in the parade in uniform. Pride executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed BLM's statement of demand, but later asserted that he had signed it only to end the sit-in and get the parade moving, and had not agreed to honor the demands. In late August 2016, the Toronto chapter protested outside the Special Investigations Unit in Mississauga in response to the death of Abdirahman Abdi, who died during an arrest in Ottawa.
In Denmark, an organization named Black Lives Matter Denmark was founded in 2016 by Bwalya Sørensen, a woman from Zambia that came to Denmark when she was 19 years old. The organization is centered around Sørensen and mainly focuses on rejected asylum seekers and criminal foreigners, sentenced to expulsion from Denmark. The connection to the US organization is unclear, but Sørensen has said she was encouraged by someone in the US to start a Danish chapter, and that she, in 2017, was visited by the US co-founder, Opal Tometi. As of June 2020[update], the Danish organization is not listed as a chapter on the Black Lives Matter website.
In June 2020, following the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter Denmark held a demonstration in Copenhagen that attracted 15,000 participants. Following the demonstration, the organization and Sørensen, in particular, received much criticism because rules separated people by ethnicity: at the demonstration, only black people could be in front, and white people were disallowed to participate in some chants. Other controversies included Sørensen refusing to co-host a demonstration with Amnesty International because their employees were white, and illegally raising money, while calling the missing fundraising permit peaceful "civil disobedience". Sørensen herself has been criticized for splitting the movement with her confrontational style.
A new organization, named Afro Danish Collective, was announced in June 2020, with Roger Matthisen, former member of the Folketing for The Alternative, as spokesperson. The organization has similar goals as Black Lives Matter Denmark, but will take a more moderate approach, including not distinguishing between people at demonstrations based on their skin color. Matthisen said Afro Danish Collective was in part established because the leadership of Black Lives Matter Denmark had not been professional enough.
On July 18, 2020, thousands of protesters marched near Paris to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the death of Adama Traoré. Traoré, a black man, was arrested in July 2016 and fainted after being pinned to the ground by police officers. He later died at a police station; the circumstances of his death are unclear.
On June 6, 2020, tens of thousands of people gathered across Germany to support the Black Lives Matter movement. On July 18, 2020, more than 1,500 protesters participated in an anti-racism march in Berlin to condemn police brutality.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, several demonstrations took place in Japan, including a 1,000-person demonstration in Osaka on June 7, 2020, and a 3,500-person march through the streets of Shibuya and Harajuku areas of Tokyo on June 14, 2020.
On June 1, 2020, several BLM solidarity protests in response to the death of George Floyd were held in several New Zealand cities including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Hamilton. The Auckland event, which attracted between 2,000 and 4,000 participants, was organized by several members of New Zealand's African community. Auckland organizer Mahlete Tekeste, African-American expatriate Kainee Simone, and sportsperson Israel Adesanya compared racism, mass incarceration, and police violence against African Americans to the over-representation of Māori and Pacific Islanders in New Zealand prisons, the controversial armed police response squad trials, and existing racism against minorities in New Zealand including the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. Hip hop artist and music producer Mazbou Q also called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to condemn violence against black Americans.
The left-wing Green Party, a member of the Labour-led coalition government, has also expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, linking the plight of African Americans to the racism, inequality, and higher incarceration rate experienced by the Māori and Pasifika communities. The BLM protests in New Zealand attracted criticism from Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters for violating the country's COVID-19 pandemic social distancing regulations banning mass gatherings of over 100 people.
On August 4, 2016, BLM protesters blocked London City Airport in London, England. Several demonstrators chained themselves together on the airport's runway. Nine people were arrested in connection with the incident. There were also BLM-themed protests in other English cities including Birmingham and Nottingham. The UK-held protests marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting death of Mark Duggan.
Black Lives Matter UK held protests in 2020 in support of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US. London protests took place in Trafalgar Square on May 31, Hyde Park on June 3, Parliament Square on June 6, and outside the US Embassy on June 7. Similar protests took place in Manchester, Bristol, and Cardiff. The UK protests not only showed solidarity with US protesters, they also commemorated black people who have died in the UK, with protesters chanting, carrying signs, and sharing social media posts with names of victims including Julian Cole, Belly Mujinga, Nuno Cardoso, Sarah Reed, and more.
On June 7, 2020 protests continued in many towns and cities. During a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, the city center statue of Edward Colston, a philanthropist, politician and slave trader, was pulled down by protesters, rolled along the road and pushed into Bristol Harbour. The act was later condemned by Home Secretary Priti Patel who said "This hooliganism is utterly indefensible."
In London, after it was defaced a few days earlier, protesters defaced the statue of Winston Churchill, Parliament Square, Westminster with graffiti for a second time. Black spray paint was sprayed over his name and the words "was a racist" were sprayed underneath. A protester also attempted to burn the Union Jack flag flying at the Cenotaph, a memorial to Britain's war dead. Later in the evening violence broke out between protesters and police. A total of 49 police officers were injured after demonstrators threw bottles and fireworks at them.
Over the weekend, a total of 135 arrests were made by police. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented on the events, saying "those who attack public property or the police – who injure the police officers who are trying to keep us all safe – those people will face the full force of the law; not just because of the hurt and damage they are causing, but because of the damage they are doing to the cause they claim to represent."
Peaceful protests took place in Leeds' Millennium Square on June 14, 2020 organized by a coalition of organizations: Black Voices Matter', which included Black Lives Matter Leeds. A second protest was held on Woodhouse Moor on June 21, organized by Black Lives Matter Leeds.
On June 18, 2020, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab aroused controversy when he said in a radio interview that the "taking the knee" gesture associated with Black Lives Matter "feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation", and suggested that it had originated in the TV series Game of Thrones.
On June 28, 2020, Black Lives Matter UK faced criticism for making a series of tweets from their verified Twitter account regarding Israel, including one that claims "mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism". The Premier League, who are carrying the Black Lives Matter logo on their football shirts for the rest of the 2019–20 season, subsequently said that attempts by groups to hijack the cause to suit their own political ends are entirely unwelcome. The BBC banned presenters and guests from wearing Black Lives Matter badges on air to avoid showing "visual symbols of support" for Black Lives Matter on screen.
According to Patrick Vernon, its start in 2016, wasn't met with respect. However from 2018 onwards—after events like Grenfell and the Windrush scandal—the movement was viewed more favourably by black Britons, in particular senior black Britions.
2016 U.S. presidential election
At the Netroots Nation Conference in July 2015, dozens of Black Lives Matter activists took over the stage at an event featuring Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders. Activists, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, asked both candidates for specific policy proposals to address deaths in police custody. The protesters chanted several slogans, including "if I die in police custody, burn everything down" and "Shut this crap down". The expression "Shut it down" would go on to become a popular phrase in Black Lives Matter protests and on social media.
After conference organizers pleaded with the protesters for several minutes, O'Malley responded by pledging to release a wide-ranging plan for criminal justice reform. Protesters later booed O'Malley when he stated "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." O'Malley later apologized for his remarks, saying that he did not mean to disrespect the black community.
On August 8, 2015, a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders was disrupted by a group who would go on to found the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter including chapter co-founder Marissa Johnson who walked onstage, seized the microphone from him and called his supporters racists and white supremacists. Sanders issued a platform in response. Nikki Stephens, the operator of a Facebook page called "Black Lives Matter: Seattle" issued an apology to Sanders' supporters, claiming these actions did not represent her understanding of BLM. She was then sent messages by members of the Seattle Chapter which she described as threatening, and was forced to change the name of her group to "Black in Seattle". The founders of Black Lives Matter stated that they had not issued an apology. In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution supporting Black Lives Matter.
In the first Democratic primary debate, the presidential candidates were asked whether black lives matter or all lives matter. In reply, Bernie Sanders stated, "Black lives matter." Martin O'Malley said, "Black lives matter," and that the "movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color." In response, Hillary Clinton pushed for criminal justice reform, and said, "We need a new New Deal for communities of color." Jim Webb, on the other hand, replied: "As the president of the United States, every life in this country matters." Hillary Clinton was not directly asked the same question, but was instead asked: "What would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn't?" Clinton had already met with Black Lives Matter representatives, and emphasized what she described as a more pragmatic approach to enacting change, stating "Look, I don't believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws". Without policy change, she felt "we'll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation." In June 2015, Clinton used the phrase "all lives matter" in a speech about the opportunities of young people of color, prompting backlash that she may misunderstand the message of "Black Lives Matter."
A week after the first Democratic primary debate was held in Las Vegas, BLM launched a petition targeted at the DNC and its chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz demanding more debates, and "specifically for a #BlackLivesMatter themed Presidential debate." The petition received over 10,000 signatures within 24 hours of being launched, and had over 33,000 signatures as of October 27, 2015. The DNC said that it would permit presidential candidates to attend a presidential town hall organized by activists, but that it would not add another debate to its official schedule. In response, the organization released a press statement on its Facebook page stating that "[i]n consultation with our chapters, our communities, allies, and supporters, we remain unequivocal that a Presidential Town Hall with support from the DNC does not sufficiently respond to the concerns raised by our members", continuing to demand a full additional debate.
In February 2016, two Black Lives Matter activists protested at a private fundraiser for Clinton about statements she made in 1996 in which she referred to young people as "super-predators". One of the activists wanted Clinton to apologize for "mass incarceration" in connection with her support for her husband, then-President Bill Clinton's 1994 criminal reform law.
Republican candidates have been mostly critical of BLM. In August 2015, Ben Carson, the only African American vying for the Republican nomination for the presidency, called the movement "silly". Carson also said that BLM should care for all black lives, not just a few. In the first Republican presidential debate, which took place in Cleveland, one question referenced Black Lives Matter. In response to the question, Scott Walker advocated for the proper training of law enforcement and blamed the movement for rising anti-police sentiment, while Marco Rubio was the first candidate to publicly sympathize with the movement's point of view.
In August 2015, activists chanting "Black Lives Matter" interrupted the Las Vegas rally of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. As Bush exited early, some of his supporters started responding to the protesters by chanting "white lives matter" or "all lives matter".
Several conservative pundits have labeled the movement a "hate group". Candidate Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, criticized President Obama for supporting BLM, stating that the movement calls for the murder of police officers. Christie's statement was condemned by New Jersey chapters of the NAACP and ACLU.
BLM activists also called on the Republican National Committee to have a presidential debate focused on issues of racial justice. The RNC, however, declined to alter their debate schedule, and instead also supported a townhall or forum.
In November 2015, a BLM protester was physically assaulted at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. In response, Trump said, "maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing." Trump had previously threatened to fight any Black Lives Matter protesters if they attempted to speak at one of his events.
In March 2016, Black Lives Matter helped organize the 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest that forced Trump to cancel the event. Four individuals were arrested and charged in the incident. Two were "charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest", one was "charged with two misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing a peace officer", and the fourth "was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing a peace officer". A CBS reporter was one of those arrested outside the rally. He was charged with resisting arrest.
A group called Mothers of the Movement, which includes the mothers of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and other mothers whose "unarmed African-American children have been killed by law enforcement or due to gun violence," addressed the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 26.
Commenting on the first of 2016 presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, some media outlets characterized Clinton's references to implicit bias and systemic racism as speaking "the language of the Black Lives Matter movement," while others pointed out neither Clinton nor Trump used the words "Black Lives Matter."
In a The Washington Post op-ed, DeRay Mckesson endorsed Hillary Clinton, because her "platform on racial justice is strong". He articulated that voting alone is not the only way to bring about "transformational change". He said that "I voted my entire life, and I was still tear-gassed in the streets of St. Louis and Baltimore. I voted my entire life, and those votes did not convict the killers of Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray or Michael Brown".
Counter-slogans and movements
"All Lives Matter"
The phrase "All Lives Matter" sprang up as response to the Black Lives Matter movement, shortly after the movement gained national attention. Several notable individuals have supported All Lives Matter. Its proponents include Senator Tim Scott. NFL cornerback Richard Sherman supports the All Lives Matter message, saying "I stand by what I said that All Lives Matter and that we are human beings." According to an August 2015 telephone poll, 78% of likely American voters said that the statement "all lives matter" was closest to their own personal views when compared to "black lives matter" or neither. Only 11% said that the statement "black lives matter" was closest. Nine percent said that neither statement reflected their own personal point of view.
According to professor David Theo Goldberg, "All Lives Matter" reflects a view of "racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial". Professor Charles "Chip" Linscott said that "All Lives Matter" promotes the" erasure of structural anti-black racism and black social death in the name of formal and ideological equality and post-racial colorblindness".
|"All Houses Matter", Chainsawsuit, Kris Straub, July 7, 2016. Cartoonist uses a house fire to illustrate why critics see "All Lives Matter" as problematic.|
Founders have responded to criticism of the movement's exclusivity, saying, "#BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean your life isn't important – it means that black lives, which are seen without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation." President Barack Obama spoke to the debate between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Obama said, "I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter ... rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that's not happening in other communities." He also said "that is a legitimate issue that we've got to address."
"Blue Lives Matter"
Blue Lives Matter is a countermovement in the United States advocating that those who are prosecuted and convicted of killing law enforcement officers should be sentenced under hate crime statutes. It was started in response to Black Lives Matter after the homicides of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 2014. Following the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson and in response to BLM, the hashtag #BlueLivesMatter was created by supporters of the police. Following this, Blue Lives Matter became a pro-police officer movement in the United States. It expanded after the killings of American police officers.
"White Student Union" Facebook groups
In response to BLM, Facebook pages emerged purporting to represent "White Student Unions" on college campuses in the United States. The pages often promise a "safe space" for white students and condemn alleged anti-white racism on campus. The New York Times reported in 2015: "Whether the Facebook groups were started by students at the universities or by an outside group seeking to stir up debate is unclear." Representatives of the schools as well as some students have said that the groups do not represent their values. Other students complained that attempts by the universities to remove these pages are a violation of free speech.
"White Lives Matter"
White Lives Matter is an activist group created in response to Black Lives Matter. In August 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center added "White Lives Matter" to its list of hate groups. The group has also been active in the United Kingdom. The "White Lives Matter" slogan was chanted by torch-wielding alt-right protesters during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. On October 28, 2017, numerous "White Lives Matter" rallies broke out in Tennessee. Dominated in Shelbyville particularly, protesters justified their movement in response to the increasing number of immigrants and refugees to Middle Tennessee.
Some black civil rights leaders, such as Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, Najee Ali, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson, have criticized the tactics of BLM as disrespectful and ineffective, with Ali claiming "all they can do is disrupt and make noise." Author and minister Barbara Ann Reynolds has criticized the confrontational tactics of BLM. Economist Glenn Loury, while supportive of the fundamentals of the movement, has criticized public retribution against "White politicians who state All Lives Matter" and the apparent polarizing effects of the movement.
Disagreement over racial bias
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David French, in a 2015 piece in the National Review, disagreed with Black Lives Matter's assertions of racial bias in police violence. French later recanted this view, noting that since 2015 it had become clear that police violence was often underreported and describing his previous commentary on the subject as "contributing more to a particular partisan narrative than to a tough, clear-eyed search for truth".
A 2019 study in PNAS looked at fatal police shooting statistics from 2015 and concluded there was no racial disparity. The study was used by right-wing commentators to attack the Black Lives Matter movement, starting with an opinion column written by Heather Mac Donald in June 2020. The authors of the study retracted it one month later, saying that its "careless" conclusions had been misinterpreted by the media, and its methodology was too narrow to draw wide inferences.
Views on law enforcement
Some critics accuse Black Lives Matter of being anti-police. Sgt. Demetrick Pennie of the Dallas Police Department filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Black Lives Matter in September 2016, which accused the group of inciting a "race war." Marchers using a BLM banner were recorded in a video chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" at the Minnesota State Fair. Law enforcement groups said that the chant promotes death to police. The protest organizer disputed that interpretation, saying "What we are promoting is that if black people who kill police officers are going to fry, then we want police officers to face the same treatment that we face as civilians for killing officers." A North Carolina police chief retired after calling BLM a terrorist group. A police officer in Oregon was removed from street duty following a social media post in which he said he would have to "babysit these fools", in reference to a planned BLM event.
Sam Dotson, chief of the St. Louis Police Department, coined the term "Ferguson effect" to describe what he believed was a change in enforcement behavior following the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent unrest. According to Dotson, his officers were less active in enforcing the law because they were afraid they might be charged with breaking the law. FBI Director James Comey suggested that the Black Lives Matter movement is partly leading to a national rise in crime rates because police officers have pulled back from doing their jobs. A study published by the Justice Department said there was an increase in homicides in 56 large cities over the course of 2015, and examined the "Ferguson effect" as one of three plausible explanations. Other researchers have looked for this "Ferguson effect" in the rise in crime rates and failed to find evidence for it on a national level. A report over the increased homicide rate in St. Louis concluded there was an "absence of credible and comprehensive evidence" for the Ferguson effect being responsible for that city's homicide increase.
Lack of focus on intraracial violence
John McWhorter wrote that the Black Lives Matter movement had "done the nation a service" by bringing national attention to police killings of unarmed African Americans, and he encouraged it to expand its focus to include "black-on-black crime".
One response noted that there are already many movements active against violence within the black community. Others have commented that it is reasonable to hold sworn police officers to higher standards than criminals. It has also been pointed out that considerable resources are already deployed to combat violence by civilians (including intraracial violence), with most such acts resulting in efforts to prosecute the perpetrator; in contrast, very few cases of police violence result in criminal accusations, let alone convictions. Others criticize the term 'black-on-black violence' as it may imply that such violence is due to the black race itself, as opposed to various confounding factors. In reality, the proportion of intraracial murders is almost the same among blacks and whites in the United States with less than ten percentage points of difference in one-on-one attacks where the races were reported.
Criticism by Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that Black Lives Matter is "inherently racist" and called the movement anti-American. According to Giuliani, the BLM movement divides people and exacerbates racial tensions. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza replied, "What those comments show me is that the former mayor doesn't understand racism," adding that his comments were "not rooted in fact." The Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart wrote that Giuliani's comments reinforced his sense that the former mayor lives in a "racial world of make-believe".
Insufficient focus on women
Women from within the Black Lives Matter movement, including professor and civil rights advocate Treva B. Lindsey, have argued that BLM has sidelined black women's experiences in favor of black men's experiences. For example, more demonstrations have been organized to protest the killings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin than the killings of Kayla Moore or Rekia Boyd.
In response, Say Her Name was founded to focus specifically on the killing of black women by police and to bring their names into the Black Lives Matter protest. Their stated goal is to offer a more complete, but not competing, narrative with the overall Black Lives Matter movement.
Financial transparency issues
Some observers have stated that the Black Lives Matter nonprofit does not adequately disclose what their financial contributions are spent on. Executives from Black Lives Matter have denied that it uses ActBlue to donate to the Democratic National Committee. In an AskReddit thread, Black Lives Matter indicated that their expenditures include "… civic engagement, expansion of chapters, Arts & Culture, organizing and digital advocacy resources and tools."
The US population's perception of Black Lives Matter varies considerably by race. According to a September 2015 poll on race relations, nearly two-thirds of African Americans mostly agree with Black Lives Matter, while 42% of white Americans are unsure or do not have an opinion about Black Lives Matter. Of white people surveyed, 41% thought that Black Lives Matter advocated violence, and 59% of whites thought that Black Lives Matter distracted attention from the real issues of racial discrimination. By comparison, 84% of black people polled thought that Black Lives Matter was a nonviolent movement, and 26% of blacks thought that Black Lives Matter distracted attention from the real issues of racial discrimination. On the question of whether "Black Lives Matter" was mostly a movement or mostly a slogan, 46% of whites and 67% of blacks thought that it is mostly a movement. A nationally representative internet survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University found that 82 percent of African Americans believe that the movement is at least moderately effective at achieving its stated goals, although 64 percent of the respondents believed that the movement would be more effective if it had a more centralized leadership structure.
A poll in June 2016 found that 65% of black American adults supported Black Lives Matter and 40% of white American adults support it. Fifty-nine percent of black Americans thought that Black Lives Matter would "be effective, in the long run, in helping blacks achieve equality" and 34% of white Americans thought so. A 2017 Harvard-Harris survey found that 35% of whites and 83% of blacks have a favorable view of the movement.
With the resurgence of Black Lives Matter in national headlines amid global protests, the movement has seen an increase in support in 2020. Although they began from different perspectives, as per the New York Times' The Upshot, "all kinds of voters moved sharply in the direction of supporting the movement" just within the two weeks between late May and early June "as much as [they] had in the preceding two years." Similarly, the Pew Research Center reports that "[m]ost Americans express support for the Black Lives Matter movement."
According to Terrance Woodbury, a researcher of attitudes among young adults, "[the] movement has evolved from Black people vs. the police to young people vs. racism." An online survey of people aged from 18-34 the Global Strategy Group found broad support from the participants, except by those who identified as pro-Trump Republicans.
Opal Tometi theorizes that increased support was the result of economic anxiety and contempt for the American government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protests led by Black Lives Matter eventually developed into a larger movement, with some crediting the organization as starting the early 21st-century civil rights movement and possibly "the largest movement in U.S. history".
- The Black Lives Matter website has the following information about the formal organizations. A global organization, Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc., was established in 2013 in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to "eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes." After community-based chapters were formed following the Ferguson unrest of 2014, Black Lives Matter Global Network was established. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, or BLM Global Network Foundation, a nonprofit organization, provides grants to support grassroots organizing work by its chapters.
- This period also saw an increase in tweets using the hashtags "#Blue Lives Matter" and "#All Lives Matter".
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