Who is Black Lives Matter? Where do they come from and what exactly do they believe in?
These questions may seem silly. But in a month when Premier League footballers joined Sir Keir Starmer and other British celebrities to “take the knee” to express their “collective support for the Black Lives Matter movement”, it is important that we ask them.
Ask most of the people who protested the streets of Britain after the murder of George Floyd and you will probably get one of two answers.
First, they’ll tell you that Black Lives Matter is a group dismayed by police brutality against people of color. He wants to reform the asymmetrical American judicial system, which allows the black community, which represents about 13% of the American population, to represent 37% of its prisoners and a disproportionate number of the thousand people killed each year by its police.
In just over two weeks, some 33,000 people used the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to donate to an organization called “Black Lives Matter UK”. The group has raised almost a million pounds in the process
Second, supporters of Black Lives Matter in the UK will tell you that it exists to campaign against systemic racism that still exists in the pockets of British society.
As they point out, economic and social inequalities unfortunately continue to affect parts of our black communities and other minorities, as they do almost everywhere else in the Western world.
These two motivations are entirely noble. It is therefore not surprising that – in addition to provoking a lively debate on vandalized statutes, the legacy of colonialism and the historic role of our nation in the slave trade – recent protests have prompted many well-intentioned people to make generous donations to this modest political cause.
In just over two weeks, some 33,000 people used the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to donate to an organization called “Black Lives Matter UK”. The group has raised almost a million pounds in the process.
On paper, Black Lives Matter UK – known on social media as @BLMUK – is the semi-official British branch of its American counterpart. It has been officially “verified” as such by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites that carry its content – and is therefore very influential and suddenly rich.
Yet while our country’s lobby group is campaigning against police violence and structural racism, just like its transatlantic brother, these are not its only specific objectives.
Ask most of the people who protested the streets of Britain after the murder of George Floyd and you will probably get one of two answers. Pictured: BLM protesters in London June 13
Indeed, while most donors and supporters may assume that Black Lives Matter UK exists to lobby against racism, group leaders, who remain largely anonymous, can use its financial muscle to pursue a wide range of goals far left.
Some are extreme and many seem to have nothing to do with promoting racial equality.
On the group’s GoFundMe page, a statement describing the political agenda for Black Lives Matter UK was uploaded a few days ago. He explains that the organization intends to be “guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.”
Which is very controversial. Because so few of them would not agree that “white supremacy”, as it exists in Britain, is a bad thing, the idea that “capitalism” is inherently racist is a minority opinion .
If those behind Black Lives Matter UK really intend to “dismantle” capitalism, what could they want to replace it with? And how would it benefit people of color?
The only alternative system practiced elsewhere in the world is communism. But as evidenced by Uighur Muslims in China, or the 1.5 million people from ethnic minorities who were deported or sent into gulags by Josef Stalin, this system can be very racist.
A source recently told The Guardian that Black Lives Matter UK was headed by “a core of ten activists”, including a man named Joshua Virasami (photo), “who has been part of the movement since its incarnation”.
The Black Lives Matter organization in America does not cite the end of capitalism as a political objective. Perhaps he considers, supported by many longtime opponents of racism, that capitalism has helped lift billions of BAME out of poverty around the world, including in America.
Elsewhere on its GoFundMe page, Black Lives Matter UK says it wants to spend the money it has collected to “develop and deliver” what it calls “police abolition strategies”.
Yet abolishing, rather than reforming, the police is an extreme policy with almost no public support outside a small circle of far-left anarchists. While such a measure would undoubtedly benefit career criminals, it is unclear how it would help law-abiding members of minority groups, who are just as likely to be victims of crime as anyone.
What could people of color do in a country that has abolished its police if their house was robbed in the middle of the night?
It seems unlikely that many of the 33,000 who gave so generously to Black Lives Matter UK knew that all of their money would be spent on these two bizarre political goals. And surely few of the 150,000 Britons who have participated in BLM demonstrations in recent weeks want to abolish capitalism and dissolve the police.
If they had spent time browsing the organization’s social media pages, they might have been a little more wary. There, it is quite obvious that the organization has been controlled for years by a small radical cabal.
Elsewhere on its GoFundMe page, Black Lives Matter UK says it wants to spend the money it has collected to “develop and deliver” what it calls “police abolition strategies”. Pictured: protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in London June 7
On Twitter, where he has been active since mid-2016, @BLMUK approved the complete closure of all British prisons and detention centers, declaring in December of the same year that they were “inhuman, overcrowded and dangerous”. [and] should be abolished. “
The question of where convicted terrorists, murderers and rapists should then be detained was not discussed. No argument has been made either to explain how this would benefit minorities.
The group also expressed opposition on Twitter to government initiatives, including reforming the benefit system through the introduction of universal credit and the granting of hydraulic fracturing licenses.
Even when he used Twitter to campaign against racism, @BLMUK sometimes focused on curious targets. In recent years, he has attacked everyone from Oxfam (“great charities are nothing more than colonizers for the 21st century”) to Sir David Attenborough.
The group accused an episode of its 2018 TV series Dynasties, on chimpanzees, of being racist because the BBC naturalist complained that the destruction of the habitat due to overpopulation threatened the species with disappearing .
“Human activities can obviously compete with wildlife,” said the anomymous BLM tweeter. “But” too many people “still have a silent” black “.”
On Facebook, @BLMUK posted support for everything from World Vegans Day to wage strikes called by unions representing Ryanair cabin crew and warehouse workers at Amazon.
On Facebook, @BLMUK posted support for everything from World Vegans Day to wage strikes called by unions representing Ryanair cabin crew and warehouse workers at Amazon. Pictured: protesters hold up signs in Trafalgar Square, London, June 13
Black Lives Matter UK also used the social network to express support for the so-called BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Last year the group called for the Eurovision song contest to be removed from “apartheid Israel”.
Many Jewish groups view the BDS movement as anti-Semitic because they believe it unjustly distinguishes Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, for consideration that is not applied to other regimes.
Elsewhere on the BLMUK Facebook page, in a seemingly authentic mission statement that reads like a travesty in places, the group says it is opposed to “ homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, queerphobia, transphobia , sexism, misogyny, misogyny, enbyphobia, capacitism, racism, anti-blackness, islamophobia, prostitution, ageism, fatphobia, eugenics, discrimination, stereotypes, respectability policy, stigma of HIV and stigma of drug addiction ” .
Maybe that explains why GoFundMe tells me that “users have donated to Black Lives Matter UK”, “until we are absolutely convinced they are going to the right place.”
There are no government regulations on crowdfunding platforms, so money raised for individual “causes” can be spent as fundraising wants. For example, it emerged last year that an anti-Brexit activist had used thousands of pounds of donors seeking to finance legal action against Boris Johnson to pay the rent for his house in London.
Asked how it would ensure donations to Black Lives Matter UK are used properly, a GoFundMe spokesperson said the website intended to “check out” the group before allowing it to receive money. But they could not explain what form this verification could take.
Ewa Jasiewicz, a former Guardian writer, (photo), was one of nine co-defendants, all of whom denied voluntary obstruction, who appeared in court alongside Joshua Virasami after Black’s first protest Lives Matter UK, August 2015
In fact, searching for “Black Lives Matter UK” on GoFundMe reveals more than 200 separate calls in addition to the one that collected £ 1 million, so verifying each of them may take some time.
So who is behind the group? And how were those who imagined its political objectives appointed?
Oddly, Black Lives Matter UK is completely anonymous, offering no transparency over who controls it or where its money will be spent.
Although it exists since July 2016, the date of creation of its Twitter and Facebook accounts, it does not have a physical address or a website. It has no formal structure, constitution, chief executive officer, president or board of directors. It is not registered as a charity or a non-profit organization. He never filed accounts and his expenses were never audited.
At Companies House, a company called Black Lives Matter Limited was created this month by a certain David Wilks-Carmichael, who calls himself a “venture capital consultant” – on paper, a strangely capitalist profession for anyone associated with anti-capitalists.
Mr. Wilks-Carmichael has been a director of 17 companies, of which 15 have been dissolved and only one has ever deposited an account.
His only other active business, Universal Private Equity, is not registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and appears to be based in a service office in the City of London. According to his latest financial statements, he only has £ 5,000 in the bank.
Black Lives Matter UK leaders seem to be facing an increasing number of requests from supporters for the group’s lack of transparency
When I contacted Mr. Wilks-Carmichael by phone this week, he insisted that he had nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter campaign, let alone his British offspring. He said he had just created the company to “do certain things to hopefully help the social advancement of blacks.”
A second company, Black Lives Matter Worldwide Ltd, was also created this month by an Omomize Rock. Its head office is a terraced house in Swindon. No one at the address was available to comment.
The leaders of Black Lives Matter UK seem to be facing an increasing number of requests from sympathizers concerning the lack of transparency of the group.
This week, they released a statement on various social media feeds, soon promising to “create a website” that “would dispel any confusion around which of the many Black Lives Matter organizations and platforms that have emerged is in fact us” .
The statement also promised that its spending “will be made public in a spirit of transparency and accountability in due course.” As for who is behind the organization, she said that its leaders were busy dealing with “emergency legal issues” and “hostility from far-right groups” which represent “a real threat to our security” .
He would therefore not publish their names but insisted that they were all “black (not politically black, black and of the African and Caribbean diaspora)”.
However, a source recently told The Guardian that Black Lives Matter UK was run by “a core of ten activists”, including a man named Joshua Virasami, “who has been part of the movement since its incarnation”.
A Black Lives Matter protester wearing a protective mask during a demonstration in London on June 13
Mr Virasami, a musician, participated in the first demonstration of Black Lives Matter UK, in August 2015, while leading a group which was arrested for blocking an access road to Heathrow Airport with a “ Black Lives Matter ” banner.
According to the police, the demonstration caused “total chaos”. In response, the group said: “The daily disruption suffered by those who are victims of racism in Britain is as much a disadvantage as not being able to arrive on time for your flight.”
When the case reached the court, Virasami was ordered to pay a fine of £ 441. Her nine co-defendants, all of whom denied voluntary obstruction (but were found guilty), included Ewa Jasiewicz, a former Guardian writer who gained notoriety in 2010 when she spray painted “ Free all ghettos ” and “ Liberate Gaza and Palestine ” one of the few remaining walls of the Warsaw ghetto, where tens of thousands of Jews died during the Second World War.
Ms. Jasiewicz, who once called for the “suppression” of Israeli politicians, made headlines in 2018 when it appeared that she was to speak at Jeremy Corbyn’s party conference in Brighton. His appearance was eventually abandoned in the midst of a noisy argument over anti-Semitism after deputy union leader Tom Watson said it would offend “taste and decency”. It is not known if she is still involved with Black Lives Matter UK.
Jasiewicz is white, as are the nine activists who participated in the second big demonstration of Black Lives Matter UK by chaining themselves on the runway of London Airport in September 2016.
The flights having been disrupted, the group said it was targeting UK airports as they were contributing to global warming, which would cause disproportionate damage to people of color.
“By 2050, there will be 250 million climate refugees,” said a spokesperson. “Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis.”
Many long-standing race relations activists disagreed. Stafford Scott, co-founder of Broadwater Farm’s defense campaign, said that the only dark thing in the whole event was the Tarmac on the track.
The courier contacted Mr. Virasami and Black Lives Matter UK by email this week, but received no response.
After the 2016 stunts, there was a hiatus of more than three years, during which @BLMUK did not organize any large-scale demonstrations, which led some to wonder if the organization was slipping into the darkness.
The death of George Floyd changed that, of course.
But it remains to be seen whether the money he has earned will be spent on combating racism, abolishing capitalism or pursuing another political objective.