The FBI is stepping up investigations into alleged “Black Identity Extremists”, which the law enforcement agency has previously cited as posing a threat to police officers. Critics, including members of Congress, are crying foul play because the FBI’s investigations appear to be unfairly targeting individuals who have not been accused of or even suspected of committing a crime.
Indeed, civil rights groups, lawmakers, and pundits are alleging that the FBI is monitoring black activists in an effort to surpress their political views. Last year, members of the Congressional Black Caucus questioned FBI director Christopher A. Wray on the issue. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has noted:
“He [Director Wray] was asked to publicly clarify that there is no scintilla of evidence, as far as we can tell, to provide an example of the black identity extremist movement or any groups that fall in that category.”
Regardless, the FBI has begun to arrest suspected “Black Identity Extremists.” This past December, Christopher Daniels, who also goes by the name Rakem Balogun, was arrested during a raid. He was subsequently found to have two guns in the house and charged with unlawful possession. Daniels has been barred from owning guns owing to a previous misdemeanor charge for domestic assault.
The FBI had been monitoring Daniels for more than two years. His supporters do not believe that he was targeted for posing a legitimate threat. Instead, friends and family allege that Daniels was targeted owing to his political beliefs and anti-law enforcement views. Anti-police rhetoric, some of which appear to advocate for violence against police, has been documented on Daniels’ Facebook page. In one Facebook post celebrating the anniversary of the Dallas police shootings, Daniels allegedly said:
“Today, one year ago, one black man brought the Dallas Pig Department to their knees. #77.”
Daniels first came to the attention of the FBI after videos of him at rallies started to circulate around the Internet. Daniels was a founding member of both Guerilla Mainframe and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club. The latter group promotes black gun ownership and open carry.
(Credit: Facebook/TLS Politics)Black Identity Extremists, a relatively new concept for the FBI, are described as people who resort to violence and unlawful activities “in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society.” Before defining the term “Black Identity Extremists”, the FBI previously acknowledged “black separatist extremists” in March of 2016. At the time, President Barack Obama was still in office and the attorney general was Loretta Lynch. Both are African American.
Many allege that Black Lives Matter, a largely decentralized movement that alleges widespread police violence against people of color, is itself a violent group. However, it should be noted that the decentralized, near-anarchical organization structure brings together a wide variety of people. Some BLM members may possibly advocate for violence, but that does not mean that all or most do.
The campaign against Black Identity Extremists comes at a tense time. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been accused of harboring racist sentiments. Members of the Trump Administration, including President Donald Trump himself, have also been accused of being racist. Since President Trump took office, countless anti-racism protests have taken place, with Black Lives Matter often taking the lead.