More than 200 years after the words “We the people” were penned at the top of the United States Constitution, they are being invoked once more in an effort to condemn and silence the Black Lives Matter movement.
After multiple instances of violence and charged racial tension in the United States, the White House was prompted this week to respond to a petition titled “We the People” — an effort 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 petition, created July 6 on the White House website.
It asked the Pentagon to recognize the group as such “on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”
Because the petition received upwards of 100,000 names, the White House was automatically prompted to respond.
The response noted that “The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations,” nor does the United States government “generate a list of domestic terror organizations.”
Since the petition surfaced, other organizations have spoken out, criticizing its purpose.
“In recent weeks, we’ve received a number of requests to name Black Lives Matter a hate group, particularly in the wake of the murders of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge,” J. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote in a piece for TIME magazine.
“In our view, these critics fundamentally misunderstand the nature of hate groups and the BLM movement,” he continued.
Members of the activist group have spoken out against the recent killings of police officers — one group in Kansas even hosted an event to ease tension and promote communication.
After a long discussion with the Wichita police department, the group of Black Lives Matter activists decided to cancel a Sunday protest and organize a barbecue instead.
Officers helped serve hamburgers and hot dogs, and played games of basketball with members of the community. There was even dancing at the event.
However, it wasn’t solely about fun and games. The event was an opportunity for many to engage in difficult conversations about necessary change.
“It takes two parties to make a healthy relationship,” Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said. “I do want to challenge other police departments and communities to do the same.”
Though the White House can’t exactly host a cookout as a response to the anti-Black Lives Matter “We the People” petition, their reply was one of positive change.
Their response acknowledged that it was a “difficult time” for the country — and that the debate remains a “charged” one — in addition, it prompted petition signers to consider President Obama’s words of compassion.
“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,” the President said last week.