The FBI has declared internally that “black identity extremists” are a violent threat because of their views about police brutality toward African-Americans, according to a leaked document.
The August report, obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine, is from the agency’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit appears to point to the FBI monitoring black rights activists, from movements such as Black Lives Matter, because of the perceived threat they pose to law enforcement personnel. It appears to be the first publicized mention of the term “black identity extremists” as an apparent movement from an official U.S. body.
“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,” it reads.
“The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement,” it continues.
The agency defended its decision to classify black rights activists as extremists and a threat in a statement to the magazine. “FBI cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights,” it said.
The protest movement has grown in light of a series of high-profile police shootings, in particular, Michael Brown’s killing in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
The report cites one particular example of “black identity extremist” violence, the shooting of 11 police officers in Dallas, Texas, in July 2016 by Micah Johnson.
“Based on Johnson’s journal writings and statements to police, he appeared to have been influenced by BIE ideology,” the FBI report said. It goes to say that it expects further such attacks in retaliation for grievances over perceived police brutality.
“The FBI further assesses it is very likely additional controversial police shootings of African Americans and the associated legal proceedings will continue to serve as drivers for violence against law enforcement,” the report said.
As left-wing protests have grown, so has far-right sentiment, becoming more prominent since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It culminated in a violent series of events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis marched and a white nationalist subsequently ran down and killed a left-wing counter-protester with his car.
The report is dated August 3, just over a week before the white supremacist rally.
Black Lives Matter activists appeared regularly at Trump’s campaign rallies in the build-up to the 2016 presidential election. The president made it clear that he would back law enforcement and battle the protests against police brutality.
“The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the White House website titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community.”
It said that “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
So far in 2017, 748 people have been shot and killed by U.S. police, 168 of them African-Americans, according to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force tracker.