The White House has officially responded to an online petition asking the government to officially consider Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization.
According to the petition, terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aim.” The petition cited events in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as examples of actions by Black Lives Matter protesters that fit the definition of terrorism, reports CBS News.
“It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions -- and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare Black Lives Matter a terror group -- on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”
The petition was submitted through the White House’s online We the People petition forum, which allows individual users craft a petition for the federal government to “take or explain” a policy position. Petitions that reach 100,000 signatures within a month are automatically sent to the White House for a comment within 60 days.
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The Black Lives Matter petition reached the signature threshold in less than two weeks and passed 140,000 signatures before being closed. It was created on July 6, the day of the death of Philando Castile, in Minnesota, which prompted Black Lives Matter protests across the country, notes New York Post. The petition went live the day before the deaths of five Dallas police officers at a shooting at a Black Lives Matter march.
The official White House response stated that the office of the president does not have the authority to designate domestic terror organizations, and that no official list of such organizations exists in the federal government.
“We encourage you to engage with your community in the ongoing discussion of how we can better build trust and safety in our communities,” the statement concluded.
While the response did not offer an answer as to whether Black Lives Matter qualified as a terror group, the statement referenced speeches by President Barack Obama calling for unity and understanding during contentious protests.
“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,” the statement quoted Obama as saying.