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October 13, 2017

CBC, Ranking Members Request FBI Meeting About “Black Identity Extremists” Assessment

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the Congressional Black Caucus and Ranking Members for three House committees requested a meeting with the FBI about its August 3, 2017 intelligence assessment titled, “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.” In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond and Ranking Members John Conyers, Jr. (Judiciary), Bennie G. Thompson (Homeland Security), and Elijah E. Cummings (Oversight) requested to meet about the origins of the assessment and how it will be used, and expressed concern about the assessment given the FBI’s “troubling history” of targeting black citizens, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders.

Excerpts from the letter are below. Full text of the letter is available here.

The Problem with the Report

“The assessment and the analyses upon which it is based are flawed because it conflates black political activists with dangerous domestic terrorist organizations that pose actual threats to law enforcement. It relies on a handful of obviously terrible incidents to paint black Americans who exercise free speech against witnessed police brutality as possible violent extremists. These broad characterizations can only serve to further erode trust between law enforcement officials and many of the black communities they serve, further inflaming an already tense and complicated dynamic. Local law enforcement may erroneously target non-violent but politically-engaged persons or groups because of this assessment. Our constituents continue to express their frustration about being ignored and being attacked for exercising their constitutionally-protected right to free speech to protest inequities across American institutions.”

The FBI’s History of Targeting African Americans 

“As you are no doubt aware, the FBI has a troubling history of utilizing its broad investigatory powers to target black citizens. During the 1960s, Director J. Edgar Hoover used the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) to surveil and discredit civil rights activists and members of the Black Panther Party. For example, the FBI falsified letters in an effort to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. into silence.   Given this history, and given several concerning actions this Administration has taken on racial issues, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are justifiably concerned about this FBI Assessment.”

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Media contact:
(Ranking Member Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978