Attacks on police: Inspired or directed by militant groups?
olice shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were followed by calls from black militant groups and others to seek vengeance against officers. Almost immediately, several officers were attacked, including the five slain by a sniper in Dallas.
Now authorities are investigating whether the Dallas gunman was directed by those groups or merely emboldened by them.
“I think it’s safe to say we’ll leave no stone unturned,” Dallas Deputy Police Chief Scott Walton said.
Police have been tight-lipped about exactly what they’re investigating and what they’ve uncovered so far. Although Micah Johnson was connected to several militant groups on social media, it’s unclear if he was merely a follower or a more active participant.
Similar questions have been raised by international terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group: How is the network encouraging and directing attacks? Is it a coordinated effort or are the attacks simply a byproduct of hate speech espoused by the groups on social media?
The number of black separatist groups nearly doubled in 2015, mirroring a similar increase among white hate groups that has taken place as police killings make frequent headlines, said Ryan Lenz, online editor and senior writer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Still, many people who become radicalized do so without direct ties to any groups. Instead, they surf the web and grow their anger in private, Lenz said.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve seen this violence become an ever-present reality in our lives,” Lenz said. “We are in a polarized political climate right now where the ‘us-versus-them’ mentality has started to reign supreme.”
Johnson followed black militant groups on Facebook, including the African American Defense League, which posted a message that referenced the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: “You and I know what we must do and I don’t mean marching, making a lot of noise, or attending conventions. We must ‘Rally The Troops!’ It is time to visit Louisiana and hold a barbeque.”
Other groups Johnson “liked” included the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Party. The last two are described as hate groups by the law center, which monitors hate crimes and right-wing extremism. – READ MORE