In the last two posts, we discussed what we mean by violence, and laid down a few conditions for saying whether BLM supports violence. Specifically, we said: if there’s credible evidence of people with a clear connection to BLM committing unjustified violent acts, then it’s reasonable to say BLM is violent. (Of course, if BLM’s leadership condemned such acts, that might be different. But let’s take things one step at a time.)
Now, I’m only one guy, and, while I’ve paid more attention to the news over the last few months than I usually do, I’m not an expert. I think I’ve done my due diligence, but if you have evidence (not just claims, evidence) to offer that you don’t think I’ve come across, by all means drop a link in the comments.
So now, after two posts of contextualization and hours of research, I’m in a position to give a tentative answer about whether BLM is violent. And the answer is: probably not, but maybe?
Honestly, even “maybe” is allowing some really slanted interpretations of the evidence I’ve found. No clear examples of BLM members instigating violence came up, and only a few maybes. One was the shooting of Aaron Danielson (a.k.a. “Jay Bishop”) three days ago, by a man who described himself as an antifascist, Michael Reinoehl. Whether Reinoehl had any link to BLM, I don’t know; nothing I’ve found so far has said so. Another was a Catholic prayer event in Missouri. One attendee took some video of protesters harassing them. He said the protesters were BLM, but I don’t know of any verification for that claim. I don’t even know if the guy meant BLM the organization, or was generalizing.
Conversely, I ran across plenty of reports of police violence against protesters, minorities, medics, and journalists. Amnesty International documented at least 125 separate instances of excessive force from police just between May 26th and June 5th this year. A hell of a lot of claims about BLM violence are exaggerated or flat-out false, when you can pin them down to facts. A Facebook post apparently made the rounds a while ago, claiming BLM had killed 36 people and caused $8 billion in property damage. Those numbers were apparently pulled out of thin air, according to investigation by PolitiFact. (This fits in with misleading reporting on antifa. The misinformation would honestly be hilarious if it weren’t dangerous.)
And this is to say nothing of how authorities have been juggling laws. On August 29th, a Salt Lake City judge downgraded charges that could’ve gotten some protesters a life sentence. Their crime? Breaking windows, posting signs, and spilling paint around. New laws have been drafted in some places, upgrading certain misdemeanors to felonies. The governor of Tennessee recently signed a bill making it a felony to illegally stay overnight on state property, as some protests do—and in Tennessee, people convicted of a felony lose the right to vote. Whether the law defines a person’s behavior as violent is getting sketchy.
Now, none of this means BLM affiliates are never violent. Nor does it mean that all violence they use, if and when they use it, is justified. (I for one think it’s usually a terrible idea.) It may suggest that any actual BLM violence is probably self-defense, but that claim would need further discussion. What it means is: people who claim BLM is violent better start producing hard evidence, in context, if they want a hearing. Because so far, here’s what we’ve got: some protesters have done violent things, and they might in theory be part of BLM. And that’s a piss-poor excuse for an accusation.