After days of violence and heightened racial tensions in the U.S., the White House responded this week to an online petition asking the federal government to formally label the Black Lives Matter movement as a “terror group.”
“Terrorism is defined as ‘the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,'” read the “We The People” petition, created July 6 on the White House website. “This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations.”
Black Lives Matter, the petition said, “earned this title due to its actions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and even at a Bernie Sanders rally, as well as all over the United States and Canada.” It asked the Pentagon to recognize the group as such “on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”
Because the online document received at least 100,000 signatures — at the time of this reporting, it had garnered over 141,000 names — the White House was automatically prompted to respond.
The “We the People” team noted that “The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations,” nor does the U.S. government “generate a list of domestic terror organizations.”
“[T]herefore,” the response read, “we are not able to address the formal request of your petition.”
The White House then went further: Acknowledging that it was a “difficult time” for the country — and that the debate remains a “charged” one — the statement additionally prompted petition signers to consider President Obama’s words calling for compassion towards the movement.