White Lives Matter will be listed as a 'hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Centre

The Southern Poverty Law Centre found that White Lives Matter has strong ties to white supremacist organisations, and will include the group on its 2017 Hate Map

Feliks Garcia
New York
Monday 29 August 2016 21:05
<em>AP</em>
AP

White Lives Matter will receive designation as a hate group in the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s upcoming Hate Map.

The White Lives Matter movement developed in response to the “black lives matter” slogan used in the protests against police violence in black communities, but has strong links to prominent white supremacist groups in the US.

“I can’t speak to how many chapters will be listed, but it’s clear that the leadership of the group, the ends of the group – it’s just a flat-out white supremacist group,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, told the Houston Chronicle.

She added: “The ideology behind it, the racist leaders, everything about it is racist.”

The movement drew national attention last week when a group of armed “White Lives Matter” activists assembled in front of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, waving Confederate flags, and protesting apparent violence from black civil rights activists.

“We came out here to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organisations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organisations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities, and things of that nature,” White Lives Matter activist Ken Reed told the Chronicle at the 21 August protest.

The Anti-Defamation League said that the demonstration was organised by the Aryan Renaissance Society, “a small but longstanding white supremacist group”, as banners held by activists were emblazoned their symbol with the “White Lives Matter” slogan. The ADL attributes the slogan to prominent white supremacist leader Rebecca Barnette of Nashville.

The SPLC points to Ms Barnette as “one of [White Lives Matter’s] key leaders, if not the leader”. Ms Barnette, the SPLC says, is involved with such white supremacist groups as Aryan Strikeforce and the women’s division of the National Socialist Movement.

An Intelligence Report profile of White Lives Matter written earlier this month said Ms Barnette posted a message on the vk.com – a Russian social media site favoured by white supremacist groups – accusing Jews and Muslims of forming an alliance “to commit genocide [of white people] of epic proportions”.

President Barack Obama recently rejected a petition calling for the White House to officially designate Black Lives Matter a terrorist organisation. The effort followed two high profile shootings of black, white, and Latino police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge – but civil rights leaders linked to the movement for black lives immediately condemned the violence.

Mr Obama clarified the meaning of “black lives matter” in his statement rejecting the petition.

“I know that there are some who have criticised even the phrase ‘black lives matter’, as if the notion is that other lives don’t matter,” he wrote. “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.”

The SPLC’s updated Hate Map is set for release in February.

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