Activists are outraged after a police training manual referring to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as a terrorist organization was brought to public attention.
A document titled “Understanding Antifa and Urban Guerrilla Warfare” was available for anyone to download from the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) until it made headlines, though it was intended specifically for police. It was also emailed out to all members of the association in October.
According to the Associated Press, the document referred to BLM activists as “revolutionary movements whose aims are to overthrow the U.S. government.”
“Extreme acts of violence are expected and called for,” the document reportedly claimed, suggesting the purpose of BLM and anti-fascist groups is to actively cause harm.
Critics of the paper have expressed concern that explicitly painting BLM activists as the enemy of the people could very likely increase unnecessary police aggression toward Black people, the very thing the movement aims to stop.
“This document is below the belt because of how much misinformation there is, how many conspiracy theories there are, how much violence it promotes and how many reasons it gives to justify dehumanizing people,” Southern University and A&M College assistant professor Sherice Nelson told the Associated Press.
ILEETA Executive Director Harvey Hedden defended the paper as merely an opinion piece by a member, claiming that prevented it from being subjected to fact-checking. He also suggested that widespread distribution could allow for productive conversations and criticisms among police trainers.
Hedden also made it clear that he believes “BLM has earned some of these criticisms.” ILEETA trains police departments across the country and actively distributing a document to members with the organization’s reputation behind it, without taking any responsibility for its contents, seems irresponsible at best.
People online weren’t quite as generous with their interpretation of the situation.
“This is why reform won’t work,” u/monkeyadept pointed out on a Reddit post discussing the document. “The premise of the police as it exists in America today is more akin to an occupying army than as civil servants dealing with crime.”
Discussion of the training manual prompted some to double down on the insistence that police be stripped of heavy weaponry if they believe in treating people who believe Black lives matter as terrorists.
“It’s crucial that we de-militarize the police, by cutting off all exchanges of weaponry, technology, surveillance systems, riot & assault gear, tanks and crap etc,” wrote u/fxkatt. “They should be employees of the community and fully in compliance with all laws. Dis-arming would help a lot, and the model is already set up in many other countries.”
Hedden told the Hill that the document has since been “removed and replaced with a new resource,” though it was not immediately clear what resource that was or if the original paper was still in circulation in a non-public venue connected with ILEETA.
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