Friday, July 15, 2016

White House response to #blacklivesmatter terrorist designation petition

We the People

A response to your petition on Black Lives Matter

Thanks for participating on the We the People platform.

You recently signed a petition asking the Administration to “Formally recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization.”

In the wake of the tragic recent events in Dallas, Falcon Heights, and Baton Rouge, the President brought together law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, activists, faith leaders, academics, and state and local elected officials this week to encourage frank conversations about the steps we can take together to build trust and ensure justice for all Americans. As part of these conversations, the President directly addressed the concern that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, social media movement, and the associated protests are somehow inherently anti-police:

“I know that there are some who have criticized even the phrase ‘black lives matter,’ as if the notion is, is that other lives don’t matter. And so you get ‘all lives matter’ or ‘blue lives matter.’ I understand the point they’re trying to make. 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. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.

“And so we shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game, just because that’s not obviously what is intended.”

This is a difficult time for our nation and this is a charged debate that stirs deep emotion. Speaking at the memorial service in Dallas earlier in the week, the President emphasized that progress requires, in part, Americans on all sides to “stand in each other’s shoes and look at the world through each other’s eyes.” He added:

“With an open heart, those protesting for change will guard against reckless language going forward, look at the model set by the five officers we mourn today, acknowledge the progress brought about by the sincere efforts of police departments like this one in Dallas, and embark on the hard but necessary work of negotiation, the pursuit of reconciliation.

“With an open heart, police departments will acknowledge that, just like the rest of us, they are not perfect; that insisting we do better to root out racial bias is not an attack on cops, but an effort to live up to our highest ideals. And I understand these protests — I see them, they can be messy. Sometimes they can be hijacked by an irresponsible few. Police can get hurt. Protestors can get hurt. They can be frustrating.

“But even those who dislike the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ surely we should be able to hear the pain of Alton Sterling’s family … and know that his life mattered to a whole lot of people of all races, of all ages, and that we have to do what we can, without putting officers’ lives at risk, but do better to prevent another life like his from being lost.

“With an open heart, we can worry less about which side has been wronged, and worry more about joining sides to do right. Because the vicious killer of these police officers, they won’t be the last person who tries to make us turn on one other. The killer in Orlando wasn’t, nor was the killer in Charleston. We know there is evil in this world. That’s why we need police departments. But as Americans, we can decide that people like this killer will ultimately fail. They will not drive us apart. We can decide to come together and make our country reflect the good inside us, the hopes and simple dreams we share.”

The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations. The U.S. government does not generate a list of domestic terror organizations, and therefore we are not able to address the formal request of your petition. We encourage you to engage with your community in the ongoing discussion of how we can better build trust and safety in our communities.

Thank you for your participation in the We the People platform. We’ll be back in touch soon.

— The We the People Team

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