12:15-1:15 p.m., S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom, Level 6
The FBI came under fire in 2017 after a report revealed it had begun using the term “black identity extremists” in official documents to describe black activists and individuals who were considered security threats by law enforcement. The classification shares multiple similarities to the bureau’s COINTELPRO project, which was used throughout the 1950s and ’60s to track and disrupt domestic political organizations, including the Civil Rights movement.
More recently, the term “black identity extremist” was applied to activist Rakem Balogun, a founding member of the Dallas-based black power group Guerilla Mainframe. Balogun was arrested in December 2017 and later learned the FBI had been investigating him for domestic terrorism, monitoring his social media posts for anti-police rhetoric. Charges against Balogun were later dropped in May 2018, following widespread backlash.
A series of “Threat Guidance” documents leaked in August 2019 showed that the FBI under President Trump considers “black identity extremists” a bigger threat than white supremacists and al-Qaida.
Free and open to the public. 1 hour CLE (pending).
Melanie Schmitz is a political journalist and editor based in Washington, D.C. She currently works as the managing editor for Shareblue Media and was previously a senior editor with ThinkProgress. In addition to covering the FBI’s “black identity extremist” classification, she has written and reported on a broad array of topics including global epidemics, the Nicaraguan revolution, and the Russia investigation.
This event is part of the Zions Bank Diverse Ideas in Law and Culture Speaker Series.