Urge the FBI to Ditch the ‘Black Identity Extremist’ Label and Stop Targeting Black Activists
The Center for Media Justice and the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program have filed a lawsuit against the FBI — demanding the release of all documents pertaining to the wrongful surveillance of Black activists and Black-led movements under the designation known as “Black Identity Extremist” (BIE).1
In 2017, a leaked intelligence report showed that after police killed Michael Brown, the FBI started identifying Black-led movements protesting police brutality as possible domestic terrorist threats. The report labeled activists participating in these movements as “Black Identity Extremists.”2
This dangerous classification is yet another attempt to group peaceful protesters with domestic terrorist threats. It's also a chilling reminder of the FBI’s targeting of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil-rights activists under the COINTELPRO program in the 1950s and ’60s.
Since the report leaked, civil-rights groups have sounded the alarm against this problematic surveillance program and its dangerous impacts on a community that’s already overpoliced. That’s why our friends at the Center for Media Justice (CMJ) filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the “Black Identity Extremist” program last year — asking the FBI to release all documents pertaining to the surveillance of Black activists under the BIE designation. But the FBI hasn’t responded to this request, which is why CMJ and the ACLU have now filed a lawsuit.
We need to keep the pressure on: Demand that the FBI release all documents related to the “Black Identity Extremist” designation and dismantle its surveillance program targeting Black activists.
1. “The ACLU and the Center for Media Justice Filed a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit Seeking Records About FBI Targeting of Black Activists,” ACLU, March 21, 2019: https://www.aclu.org/cases/center-media-justice-et-al-v-federal-bureau-investigation-et-al
2. “FBI Terrorism Unit Says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Pose a Violent Threat,” The Guardian, Oct. 6, 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/06/fbi-black-identity-extremists-racial-profiling