Thursday, October 19, 2017

BLACK LIVES MATTER IS NOT A THREAT GROUP!

BLACK LIVES MATTER IS NOT A THREAT GROUP:
How will you respond to the lie that it is one?

JUSTICE IS A VERB!

©Wendell Griffen, 2017

October 19, 2017

On October 13 members of my court security team attended a training session for court security officers in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  I learned from a member of my team that Instructor Ronnie Boudreaux of Advanced Law Enforcement Readiness Training (ALERT) referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group “like the KKK” while leading a session on court security.  When members of my staff questioned Instructor Boudreaux about his comment, he identified Black Lives Matter among a list of “threat groups.”  

I issued a letter objecting to Instructor Boudreaux’s mischaracterization of Black Lives Matter to the Director of Court Security for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) – the agency that oversees court administration in Arkansas – last Monday (October 16).  My letter included the following observations.

The Ku Klux Klan is a domestic terrorist organization that arose during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.  Its history of terrorism has been the subject of federal legislation.  Instructor Boudreaux, ALERT, and your office can easily verify this information by reading the following Internet based article:  http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan

By contrast, Black Lives Matter is not and has never been designated a terrorist organization by Congress, or any state or federal law enforcement agency.  I invite you, Instructor Boudreaux, and the director of ALERT to cite any law that has ever identified Black Lives Matter in ways that resemble how the Ku Klux Klan has been identified.  Black Lives Matter does not and has not endorsed or condoned violence against law enforcement officers or anyone else, for that matter.  No authorized spokesperson for BLM has done so, and BLM has explicitly condemned hateful comments by others that have suggested or encouraged that anyone engage in violence against or toward law enforcement officers. 

Instructor Boudreaux’s characterization of BLM as a “hate” or “threat” group is baseless, however much he or others may believe it.

I am pleased by the response of Marty Sullivan, Director of the AOC, to my letter of protest.  When he was contacted by the media, Director Sullivan immediately disavowed the remarks made by Instructor Boudreaux, and agreed that Black Lives Matter is not a threat group (see https://m.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2017/10/16/judge-objects-to-trainers-references-to-black-lives-matter).

However, Michael Thompson, the president and a co-founder of ALERT according to its website (http://www.alert10-04.com/instructors1.html), compounded the cultural incompetence demonstrated by Instructor Boudreaux’s mischaracterization.  I share below what Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times reported concerning his conversation with Mr. Thompson:

… I talked with Mike Thompson, a former deputy U.S. marshal who owns Georgia-based ALERT, which he said has been providing training sessions for court bailiffs and other court officers for 20 years.

"I've heard Ronnie teach and there's not a racist bone in his body," Thompson said. "If anyone said anything out of line, it was a misstatement." He said he'd check with Boudreaux and said he'd be happy to talk to Griffen.

Thompson said in 20 years of teaching such courses, "it's the first time anyone has ever lodged a complaint such as this." He said he took pride in the quality of his company's instruction and added, "I wouldn't have anyone working for this company who is prejudiced."

He said ALERT, as a favor to a former student and friend who works in Arkansas, had put on the course Friday at cost, about $2,200, for about 70 court bailiffs. He said Boudreaux, a former U.S. marshal in Louisiana, talks about many groups that can present potential threats to court security. He said Black Lives Matter had recently been added to the list.  But he said the talk focused mostly on drug cartels and "sovereign citizens" as most dangerous. But he acknowledged that all groups mentioned, from tax protesters to Aryan and Nazi groups. were seen as having committed violent acts or acts that have "created a problem for law enforcement."

But he said, "We don't focus on any one group." He said he was sorry anyone took offense at the mention of Black Lives Matter.

Thompson’s responses to Max Brantley’s inquiry about Boudreaux’s characterization of Black Lives Matter reveal several disquieting realities.

·         Thompson confirmed that Black Lives Matter has recently been added to a list of groups seen as having committed violent acts or acts that have “created a problem for law enforcement.”  Who compiled and maintains that list?  What conduct or stances have been taken by Black Lives Matter that amounts to committing “violent acts” or acts that have “created a problem for law enforcement?”
·         Thompson confirmed that Boudreaux, a former U.S. Marshall in Louisiana, talks about many groups that can present potential threats to court security and that Black Lives Matter had recently been added to the list.  What incidents have been reported, not to mention confirmed, that involve Black Lives Matter movement people presenting threats to court security?  Who reported these “potential threats?”  When did the “potential threats” arise?  Who investigated the “potential threats to court security?”  Who verified the “potential threats” mentioned by Boudreaux and later repeated by Thompson?
·         Thompson’s statement that he was sorry if anyone took offense at the mention of Black Lives Matter exposes another troublesome, and troubling, reality.  Thompson skirted the whole question about the mischaracterization of Black Lives Matter as a group that has committed violent acts, acts that have “created a problem for law enforcement,” or acts that posed any threat to court security. 

Far from disproving my objection to Instructor Boudreaux’s mischaracterization of Black Lives Matter, Mr. Thompson’s response to Max Brantley’s inquiry confirmed that his organization views Black Lives Matter among groups that have committed violent acts and/or that have created a problem for law enforcement.  According to Thompson, Boudreaux, and (presumably) all other ALERT instructors, Black Lives Matter is similar to domestic terror groups similar to the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation, and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups known for engaging in violence. 

According to its website, ALERT holds its instructors out as “subject matter experts” about court security.

The court security seminar provides law enforcement officers working in courthouses with the most current evidence-based practices used in securing courthouse complexes and protecting judicial personnel.  The program is a three-day comprehensive course that offers a wide range of training modules designed to reinforce the fundamentals of court security, enhance existing skill sets, and incorporate contemporary issues challenging America’s courthouses and the officers protecting them.  As subject matter experts, the instructors bring their experience to the classroom through lecture and practical exercises..,
 
This is a classic case of cultural incompetence that is subsidized with public money. 

Black Lives Matter is a social justice movement that arose to protest abusive and homicidal law conduct by enforcement agents, with special focus on abusive and homicidal law enforcement conduct and practices towards black, brown, and other persons of color.  Without citing a single verified report of violence endorsed, condoned, threatened, or committed by Black Lives Matter, Thompson, Boudreaux, and other ALERT instructors of court security officers and other law enforcement officers are perpetrating the false, untrue, - as in outright lie – message that Black Lives Matter poses an ongoing threat to court security and to law enforcement in general. 

Cultural incompetence happens when seasoned law enforcement instructors falsely accuse a social justice movement to protest abusive and homicidal conduct by publicly sworn and compensated law enforcement agents of being a threat to law enforcement and court security.

That cultural incompetence exists no matter how many years it has been practiced.  No matter how many years Boudreaux, Thompson, or anyone else has worked in law enforcement, lying about whether a social justice movement is a threat to law enforcement and court security is lying. 

The cultural incompetence doesn’t arise because my court security officers and I properly took offense to Black Lives Matter being falsely labeled a “threat” group.  It exists because Thompson, Boudreaux, and other ALERT instructors cannot tell the difference between exercising the freedom to demand that law enforcement officers not engage in abusive and homicidal conduct – a freedom enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States – and committing criminal acts of violence and intimidation. 

Black Lives Matter has the right under the First Amendment – ratified in 1791 to the U.S. Constitution – to protest abusive and homicidal law enforcement behaviors, the people who engage in them, and the system that enables, protects, and attempts to justify abusive and homicidal law enforcement practices and policies.  Black Lives Matter is not a threat group, no matter what Ronnie Boudreaux, Michael Thompson, and anyone else may claim (whether associated with ALERT or not). 

How many other times have ALERT instructors made similar untrue claims about Black Lives Matter? 

How many law enforcement officers and court security officers have been misled by those claims?  

How much money has been paid to ALERT by taxpayers to send law enforcement and court security officers to be misinformed by Boudreaux and other ALERT instructors about Black Lives Matter? 
                           
When will public officials and members of the general public stop paying ALERT and other “subject matter experts” on law enforcement and court security to misinform law enforcement and court security officers?   

My court security officers and I are not the only persons who should be offended by what Instructor Boudreaux falsely claimed about Black Lives Matter.  I am not the only person who should insist that the propaganda spouted by ALERT about Black Lives Matter be denounced and condemned. 

Judging from the reaction by Mr. Thompson of ALERT, it is unlikely that ALERT will stop referring to Black Lives Matter as a “threat” group?  The question is whether the rest of us will stand by while public funds are paid to ALERT to spread that lie and misinform court security and other law enforcement officers. 

We can’t stop ALERT from being culturally incompetent.  We can and should insist that ALERT not be awarded public business and paid public funds for that incompetence.    


What will you do? 

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