Hijacking events, threatening violence, and taking action against non-combatant targets
When Black Lives Matter (BLM) first hit the scene, I was cautiously optimistic. However, this feeling did not last long. After watching members hijack a Sanders rally, reading about how members were insisting on segregated “safe spaces” for black students on college campuses and finally when BLM members stormed a university republican students speech forcing the event to end I became fed up. I already wrote an article that mentioned BLM and this incident, It was in the context of Canadian badass Kevin Vickers’ response to a protestor in Ireland.
Though I have already mentioned the group more than I would care too, I have decided to dedicate an entire piece to my thoughts on BLM. This is because of last week's action by the Toronto chapter of the group, who shut down the Toronto pride parade and forced organizers to sign a list of demands, before allowing the parade to continue.
One of my biggest issues with the group, is how they gain their support. Most of the time pressure groups form in one of two ways. From the top down, or from the grassroots. The AARP used to be an insurance company for seniors before it realized there was more money harassing politicians than selling insurance and became the ubiquitous lobbying group that controls the senior vote. The NRA was founded in the late 1800’s by grassroots gun lovers who wanted to teach safety and become better shots. The group didn’t start lobbying till the 70’s when it realized its members rights were at stake. You may not like their stance on guns, but they formed from the grassroots, gained support, then started lobbying for their members rights. Both of these groups often face criticism for their views (less so the AARP), which is fair as they have inserted themselves into politics. They spent years building up a loyal following, of (literally) card carrying members. This core membership is more concerned with the overall ideology of the group than minor flashes in the pan, and often survives the groups controversy. Regardless of how they got there, and whether or not you agree with them, they sure as hell earned every bit of support they have.
BLM has come up with another way of doing things. Instead of taking a large organization with many members and converting it to a political vessel, or slowing building up membership from the grassroots and uniting a group of people, instead of the traditional methods of political activism they came up with:
Cause-hijacking. As I mentioned earlier, one of the first times this came to my attention was a Bernie Sanders speech in Seattle. In that instance BLM members simply walked up to the podium and grabbed the mic until they got their demands. In this case a simple moment of silence and acknowledgement from Mr. Sanders. They have now moved up and on and instead of simply asking for a brief bit of respect or consideration, they demand their way, or that the event they decide to hijack must end.
This is without a doubt a new form of terrorism. The reason I have stayed away from that word so far is that it usually involves violence which, to be fair, BLM has toed right on the line. While their actions are very angry, and even aggressive (see my BLM / Kevin Vickers article) they are not by definition violent. The definition of terrorism I learned near a decade ago in High School poli-sci was “violence directed as non-combatant targets designed to create fear, in order to influence political opinion”. There is little doubt that BLM has used intimidation, and fear in their tactics. Organizers from Toronto pride have come out said the reason they signed the demands made by BLM was to continue the parade, and that they will not necessarily honour the demands. They were scared the parade would end, and while under this duress complied with BLM’s demands. While this is not violence per se, it is certainly not a peaceful protest either.
I think that if a group blockades, or otherwise impedes an event, then essentially demands ransom to allow it to continue, this meets the standards for “political violence”. As the Pride parade had given BLM a float, as well as the fact that until BLM held up the parade Pride Toronto had no idea what BLM was up to, and that pride is nowadays a celebration/parade in support of acceptance (not the anti police event it started as) I believe that participants in the parade, and those watching it, did not intend to start a political debate, therefore they meet the definition of “political non-combatants”. Influencing political opinion barely needs and explanation, but as this is a city wide public event, and the group demanded civil servants be excluded, as well as demanding an increase in their representation it is clear their motives are political, as it is also clear they are forcing, rather than requesting, their objectives in contrast to our entire democratic system.
For these reasons I believe it is start time people treated BLM as the group they really are. They are not a pressure group, they are not a grassroots movement, they are political terrorists, and they are putting democracy at risk.