“I want to let ya’ll know, if anything happens with me … don’t affiliate me with nothing…I’m affiliated with the spirit of justice, nothing more nothing less.”
These are the words of Gavin Eugene Long, the suspected gunman who killed three officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge this past Sunday, July 17. In one of his many YouTube videos that was posted on July 8, Long makes it clear and emphasizes that he is “not affiliated” with any movements, groups, religions or individuals. He took responsibility for his thoughts and actions, yet that is not the narrative being pushed to the general public by the mainstream media or by key figureheads.
Black people aren’t responsible for cops being killed – criminals are. Criminals are responsible for committing crimes and those criminals tend to represent all races, not just Black people.
With the recent shooting incidents in Baton Rouge and the July 7th ambush on police in Dallas, Texas, that left five officers dead and nine injured, the mainstream media, along with other key figureheads, have used these incidents to once again blame the Black Lives Matter movement for the incidents, and promote a narrative that individuals who have been protesting the killing of Alton Sterling by two Baton Rouge police officers were the root cause of the tragic shootings.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick issued a statement in response to the incident in Baton Rouge, seemingly blaming the Black Lives Matter movement by saying, “While we don’t yet know the details or the motive for these latest police killings, we do know that we currently are living in an environment where police officers do not feel safe because of the heated anti-police rhetoric that is being heard far too often in cities across the country.”
After the Dallas shooting tragedy, former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani went on MSNBC and not only blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for the deaths of the five Dallas officers, but also blamed the movement for fostering an environment that encouraged Black people to hate members of law enforcement to the point they use violence.
In the interview with host Brian Williams, Giuliani said, “When you talk about Black Lives Matter, well you know, the Black young boy who is killed by another Black young boy is just as dead as a Black young boy who was killed by the police officers.”
In an interview on MSNBC, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who is African American, blamed protestors and even blamed people who spoke at the funeral of Alton Sterling.
“The rhetoric that has been spewed from some of the people who’ve spoken at the funeral, during the course of the whole week…Everything has been about a lot of anti-police,” said Holden.
Holden went on to say that many of the people who “want to light a fire and pour gasoline on it” may be “related” to the ambush. He went on to call for an end to the rhetoric.
It is difficult to understand how Holden could have blamed the people who spoke at Sterling’s funeral, in that he was a no-show and did not attend the funeral. And according to Sterling’s family, Holden had not even called them to offer condolences, unlike President Obama who called the family personally, and expressed sympathy.
Krystal Muhammad, National Chairwoman of the New Black Panther Party, has said her group, which protested in Baton Rouge prior to the police shootings this past Sunday, was being blamed for many of these incidents happening across the country, and had to fend off accusations that the Baton Rouge shooter Gavin Long was affiliated with their group as an active member – something Muhammad says is completely not true.
In addition to people seeking to blame Black Lives Matter and other Black groups for what occurred in Dallas and Baton Rouge, an online petition was created to formally ask that the federal government have Black Lives Matter labeled as a terrorist organization. Black Lives Matter, according to the online petition, “earned this title due to its actions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and event at a Bernie Sanders rally, as well as all over the United States and Canada.”
Because the online petition garnered over 100,000 signatures, the White House was automatically prompted to respond, with the White House responding that they “are not able to address the formal request of your petition.”
In a recent gathering discussing tensions across America and the Black Lives Matter movement, President Barack Obama stated, “I think it’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed.”
Blaming the Black Lives Matter movement, along with other Black groups who are seeking justice, for the horrific acts of two separate lone gunmen is reminiscent of how the Black Panther Party was targeted as a Black organization, who sought justice for Blacks in the 1960s.
For those who are students of history, it can be recalled how the mainstream media and the U.S. government targeted and even created false narratives about the Black Panther Party that permeated the minds of most Americans and dominated the mainstream news headlines. The Black Panther Party became an unwilling target from the moment they formed in 1966, until it found itself crippled with the help of a barrage of false narratives and government intervention.
Today, if you pull up the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) website and go to their vault files, you will see the following false narrative created to describe the Black Panther Party:
The Black Panther Party (BPP) is a Black extremist organization founded in Oakland, California in 1966. It advocated the use of violence and guerilla tactics to overthrow the U.S. government.
The Black Panther Party had no such agenda, but had a detailed plan of what they desired.
This false narrative has permeated the minds of many American citizens for decades, and it was the brainchild of a widely-recognized government official, who had a notorious history of targeting Blacks in this country and Black organizations – FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover.
Hoover, who was the head of the powerful Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), once referred to the Black Panther Party as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country”?
Hoover did not refer to the Ku Klux Klan, and there known history of lynching in the South as the greatest threat. Hoover did not refer to the bad actors in the Jim Crow South who implemented poll taxes and literacy tests and other methods to disenfranchise Blacks as the greatest threat. It was the Black Panther Party that was the organization that Hoover deemed to be the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States. Hoover has a recorded history of targeting and labeling just about every Black organization and Black leader in America during his tenure, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who the FBI, under Hoover’s leadership and direction, is on record as legally terrorizing with veiled threats and wiretapping.
Hoover instructed several of his FBI field operatives to use their power and resources to implement strategic measures that would take down the Black Panther Party. They went as far as sending informants in to the organization to infiltrate the organization, so that the FBI would know every single move the Black Panther Party and its party leaders would make. Under Hoover’s reign, the FBI became one of the most destructive and harmful entities that pitted itself against African Americans and their progress in the history of this country. The actions of the FBI not only weakened the Black Panther Party, it also destroyed the lives of many of the organization’s leaders who were either killed or arrested on trumped up charges.
Fast forward to present day America and we see the same tactics are being used to target and vilify the Black Lives Matter movement, in the same way the Black Panther Party was targeted.
The Black Lives Matter movement was formed in 2012 after 17-year old Trayvon Martin was murdered and his killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for the crime. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has been working to help create an America where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise, and are valued.
There is an interesting correlation between the majority of people, including many members of law enforcement and elected officials, who castigate the Black Lives Matter movement by saying ‘All Lives Matter’ or ‘ Blue Lives Matter’, yet refuse to rail against police brutality with the same level of conviction and passion.
Bad cops endanger everyone. Bad cops endanger both civilians and their fellow good cops. Law enforcement officials and elected officials can take a real leadership role in bringing calm in the midst of a climate of volatility, by holding bad cops accountable for the brutal beatings and killings of unarmed Black people in their respective counties and cities.
There is a saying that, “When we blame, we give away our power.”
Americans have the power to change the current climate and the false narratives that are dominating the mainstream headlines and permeating the minds of those who are sincerely looking for answers to these serious issues that America is facing.
Blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for what happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge will not heal the sickness that ails America. If Americans want to truly see this nation move forward, then the mainstream media and other key figures have to become more responsible with what they disseminate to the general public, especially during tumultuous times as these.
Once again, the Forward Times is taking a leading role on helping deal with the issues that currently divide us, and helping bridge the gap between law enforcement officials and the Black community. We plan to work with local, county and state officials, along with civic leaders, members of the clergy and the community-at-large, in order to continue this extremely important dialogue over the coming weeks, so that we can move forward with peace and progress.