In the “Struggle For Power: The Ongoing Persecution of Black Movement by The U.S. Government,” a new report, the Movement For Black Lives and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility Clinic expose how the oppression of Black people by the government remains a constant threat to our progress and any attempt to obtain freedom, justice and equality—or even point out the need for change in this country.
The report, released Aug. 18, shows how the federal government cracked down on and targeted protestors and activists for prosecution during the huge demonstrations after the police murder of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street last year.
And, while the Trump administration may have spearheaded the latest war on Black protest and dissent, the Biden administration has not pulled back federal prosecutors often using 1960s-era anti-riot and incitement laws to go after protestors. That’s not to mention federal infiltration and sting operations following the Ferguson uprising sparked by the death of Mike Brown, Jr., in 2014. Blacks have been sent to jail and remain in jail from prosecutions and setups during the presidential administration of Barack Obama.
“In the fight for Black self-determination, power, and freedom in the United States, one institution’s relentless determination to destroy Black movement is unrivaled—the United States federal government,” said the Movement For Black Lives report. “Black resistance and power-building threaten the economic interests and White supremacist agenda that uphold the existing social order.
Throughout history, when Black social movements attract the nation’s or world’s attention, or we fight our way onto the nation’s political agenda as we have today, we experience violent repression. We’re disparaged and persecuted; cast as villains in the story of American prosperity; and forced to defend ourselves and our communities against police, anti-Black policymakers, and U.S. armed forces.”
“Last summer, on the heels of the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, millions of people mobilized to form the largest mass movement against police violence and racial injustice in U.S. history. Collective outrage spurred decentralized uprisings in defense of Black lives in all 50 states, with a demand to defund police and invest in Black communities. This brought global attention to abolitionist arguments that the only way to prevent deaths such as Mr. Floyd’s and Ms. Taylor’s is to take power and funding away from police,” said the report.
“At the same time, the U.S. federal government, in a flagrant abuse of power and at the express direction of disgraced former President Donald Trump and disgraced former Attorney General William Barr, deliberately targeted supporters of the movement to defend Black lives in order to disrupt and discourage the movement. This persecution resulted in hundreds of organizers and activists facing years in federal prison with no chance of parole.”
The report added, “The federal government spread anti-BLM propaganda, cast protesters as ‘violent radicals,’ and charged them with inflated federal indictments that carry significantly harsher penalties than local charges, all in an attempt to wrest power from local communities that had taken to the streets nationwide.”
The report was able to analyze 326 criminal cases initiated by U.S. federal prosecutors tied to charges to activities and protests after the Floyd murder, from May 31, 2020 to October 25, 2020.
Among its conclusions, which reflected what many believed and declared was happening, was a finding that protest-related prosecutions were often driven by “top-down directives” from President Trump and Attorney General Barr. Justice Dept. and Trump administration officials portrayed activists and protestors as “violent radicals.”
They justified using wider federal power by accusing local and state officials of “abdication of their law enforcement responsibilities in deference to this violent assault.” With Black Lives Matter protesters demonized, anti-mask protesters were called “very good people” worthy of negotiating with. The government also “frequently claimed federal jurisdiction based on alleged conduct either occurring on federal property or affecting property which receives federal funding” to justify prosecutions.
With the vast majority of protests peaceful, the so-called threat of protestor violence was “greatly exaggerated.” “Notably, the only two violent charges related to murder were brought against counter-protester members of the Boogaloo Bois, a far-right paramilitary faction that includes many White supremacists,” the report said.
Federal prosecutors intervened with charges that could have been handled by states as “88 percent of the federal criminal charges carried more severe potential sentences than the equivalent state criminal charges.”
Based on race data available, 52 percent of defendants overall were Black, and Black men were 91 percent of those prosecuted.
Prosecutors also “ ‘stacked charges’ against defendants,” meaning longer possible sentences if convicted. Prosecutors often pressed charges that brought mandatory minimum sentences. Many times the “defendant (was) alleged to have attempted, conspired, or aided and abetted an underlying crime without having actually committed the underlying criminal conduct.” The leading cities in which federal charges were filed included Portland, Oregon, ranked first, along with Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis.
Eighty-three percent of federal charges were brought in states under Democratic leadership.
Arson, the main federal charge filed, “was followed by civil disorder; assaulting an officer; and felon-in-possession. Assaulting an officer, similar to arson, captures a broad range of acts not limited to the use of actual physical force against an officer, such as pointing a laser pointer in the general direction of the police,” said the report.
The report researchers noted gaps in information may have existed to shield how federal law enforcement agencies worked together and racial data for those charged was often unavailable.
Federal prosecutions not only meant stiffer penalties, but could also mean incarceration further away from home and loved ones and no parole.
“In 2017, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division invented a brand-new label, designating the movement in defense of Black lives as ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ or BIEs. Mobilizing the charged post-9/11 vocabulary of so-called ‘extremism’ in this manner served to broadly categorize Black activists as threats to national security, justifying an intensification of government surveillance, domination, and punishment,” the report observed.
The Movement for Black Lives describes itself as a “national network of over 150 leaders and organizations creating a broad political home for Black people … all unified in a radical vision for Black liberation and working for equity, justice, and healing.” The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility Clinic is associated with the City University of New York School of Law. Their report covers abuses and prosecutorial targeting while Mr. Trump was in office.
The new president hasn’t changed anything. “Biden is expanding Trump’s war on ‘domestic violent extremism’—and it’s sweeping up Black people,” said The Intercept, an online news outlet Aug. 18, in an article done in partnership with Type Investigations.
“We found that about 59 cases arose from two civil disorder charges, and another 111 were arson cases in which a link to a federal jurisdiction—such as an attack against federal officers or property—wasn’t immediately apparent. The Intercept and Type Investigations were able to confirm the race of 83 defendants in those two groups. Over half of those defendants were Black,” said the article.
“In a National Security Council strategy document released in June, the Biden administration declared that while the U.S.’s main domestic terror threats were militia groups and ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the White race),’ federal authorities would also ‘disrupt and deter those who launch violent attacks in a misguided effort to force change in government policies that they view as unjust.’ ”
“The Intercept and Type Investigations confirmed the race of approximately half the people charged with either civil disorder or arson against nonfederal targets in connection with the protests. Of those defendants, more than half are Black. Several legal advocacy groups have alleged racial bias in the federal government’s charging decisions,” the article continued.
These latest revelations follow other covert operations against Black groups and Black people under the federal governments infamous Counterintelligence Program in the heyday of the civil rights and Black Power movement. Many of those heroes in the Black liberation struggle remain jailed today though they pose no threat to the U.S. with many falsely accused and imprisoned.
Once again, it’s clear we cannot get along with this people, Caucasian people, or this government in peace. Separation, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches, is the best and only solution.