Just before white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Va., in August, the FBI warned about a new movement that was violent, growing, and racially motivated. The bureau called it “black identity extremists.” Amid a debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement, reports Foreign Policy. “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report.
The August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson was the catalyst for widespread anger and violence, the report says, concluding that “alleged” police abuses have fueled more violence. “The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement,” the report says. Some 748 people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2017, including at least 168 African Americans. The report is dated Aug. 3, nine days before the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly. It appears to be the first reference to “black identity extremists” as a movement. Former government officials said no such movement exists, and some expressed concern that the term is part of a politically motivated effort to find an equivalent threat to white supremacists. A former senior counterterrorism and intelligence official from the Department of Homeland Security expressed shock at the report’s language. “This is a new umbrella designation that has no basis,” the former official said. “There are civil rights and privacy issues all over this.”