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A confidential 2015 memo from a top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee official that has resurfaced warned party members the Black Lives Matter movement was “radical” and offered advice on how to handle movement activists who contacted their campaigns.
As reported by Fox News, the private memo, which was first leaked in 2016 by the hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0,” was described as racially inconsiderate and patronizing at the time. The DCCC advised candidates to listen to BLM activists only in “personal or small group meetings.”
“If approached by BLM activists, campaign staff should offer to meet with local activists,” the memo noted. “Invited BLM attendees should be limited.”
Leaders of the movement responded with dismay.
“We are disappointed at the DCCC’s placating response to our demand to value all Black life. Black communities deserve to be heard, not handled. People are dying,” the group said in a statement. “We demand, and are fighting every day for, a radical transformation of American democracy where all Black lives are valued. We expect that our elected officials will stop pacifying and take us seriously.”
Now, however, as the group is resurgent in the wake of the death of George Floyd, which has “led politicians to kneel in kente cloths and changed free speech norms across the country, the memo threatens to undermine their stated commitment to reform” following the incident in Minneapolis last month, Fox News reported.
“This document should not be emailed or handed to anyone outside of the building,” the memo from Troy Perry, who is black and a top DCCC official, began. “Please only give campaign staff these best practices in meetings or over the phone.”
Perry went on to describe Black Lives Matter as a “radical movement to end ‘anti-black racism,’” adding that BLM does not want their movement “co-opted by the Democratic Party.”
When meeting with BLM activists in a limited capacity, Perry advised Democrats to never “say ‘all lives matter’ nor mention ‘black-on-black crime.’”
“These are all viewed as red herring attacks,” the document reads. “This response will garner additional media scrutiny and only anger BLM activists. This is the worst response.”
The reaction to the memo when it was first released was highly critical. Deray Mckesson, a top Black Lives Matter leader and spokesperson, wrote in 2016: “The DNCC memo re: the movement highlights a serious lack of attention to issues related to black people. Has their view changed since 2015?”
The DNCC memo re: the movement highlights a serious lack of attention to issues related to black people. Has their view changed since 2015?
— deray (@deray) August 31, 2016
— Leslie Scott (@LeslieAScott) October 10, 2015
All said, however, Democrats have introduced several sweeping reforms, though it’s not clear how far they will get.
On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led other Democrats in a kneeling ‘ceremony’ in the Capitol Visiting Center lasting eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the pavement with his knee.
The photo op occurred before Democrats introduced the “Justice in Policing Act of 2020,” a bill crafted without any input from minority Republicans that calls for, among other things, limits to “qualified immunity,” a judge-implemented doctrine that protects police officers from frivolous lawsuits challenging the manner in which they perform their duties.
Democrats say that the doctrine shields bad officers and invites misconduct. The bill would permit officers to be punished if they violated constitutional rights “knowingly or with reckless disregard.” Currently, the federal standard is that officers can only be punished for “willfully” violating constitutional rights, a much more stringent standard.
The Trump administration also crafting reform proposals that can be achieved through a combination of executive and legislative actions.
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