NEW YORK – The Black Lives Matter Global Network distanced itself Thursday from an unaffiliated activist whose comments sparked the ire of President Donald Trump, saying the activist was not speaking on behalf of the movement.
Trump lashed out on Twitter after Hawk Newsome appeared on Fox News this week to discuss the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“Black Lives Matter leader states, ‘If U.S. doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it’. This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” Trump tweeted.
Newsome made the remarks to “The Story” host Martha MacCallum, who asked him about previous statements he'd made on violence seen in some of the Floyd protests. The activist went on to say that his remarks could be taken “figuratively” or “literally.”
He also said he does not condone violence or rioting in response to the death of Floyd, but would not condemn those who do it to express anger over police brutality.
In a statement to The Associated Press, BLM Global Network managing director Kailee Scales said Newsome’s comments were not an official statement of the network.
“Hawk Newsome has no relation to the Black Lives Matter Global Network,” Scales said.
Newsome is a former president of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, which is not an affiliate chapter of the global network. Although there are many groups that use “Black Lives Matter” or “BLM” in their names, only 16 are considered affiliates of the BLM Global Network.
Scales said only chapters that have agreed to adhere to the network’s principles and code of ethics are permitted to be part of the network.
Reached by phone Thursday night, Newsome said Black Lives Matter Greater New York is now under the leadership of Black women. He also said Black Lives Matter is not a movement over which anyone can claim ownership.
“It pains me that at a time like this, Black people are not sticking together,” he said. “To say that all people who carry that banner have to be sanctioned is preposterous. ... To alienate us at a time like this, when the president is targeting us, is not only counterproductive but it’s counterrevolutionary.”
The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2013 amid anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. The network of chapters was formed in 2014, following an uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, in response to the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Since the death of Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer held a knee to his neck, widespread protests have brought about what many consider a national reckoning on police brutality and systemic racism. The protests have also prompted a surge of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, accompanied by an influx in donations to many different racial justice groups and legislative action by federal lawmakers.
In Washington, D.C., the mayor ordered the words “Black Lives Matter” painted across a street near the White House, which also has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza. The words have now been painted on streets in several major cities.
On Thursday, Trump also tweeted his disapproval of plans to paint the words in front of his former headquarters in Manhattan.
“Told that @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio wants to paint the fabled & beautiful Fifth Avenue, right in front of Trump Tower/Tiffany, with a big yellow Black Lives Matter sign,” he tweeted. “NYC Police are furious!”