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The #BLMKidnapping Hashtag Makes A Horrific Tragedy Even Worse

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 5, 2017 4:41PM

Photo: Tyler LaRiviere

Updated 2:00 p.m.

Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of four people in relation to a horrific video that appears to show a mentally disabled man being tortured and cut, his mouth bound, while at least one apparent assailant shouts “Fuck white people” and “Fuck Donald Trump.” To borrow descriptors from Supt. Eddie Johnson, the scene is brutal and sickening. But the awful incident was made even uglier by the #BLMKidnapping hashtag that thousands of social media users employed to publicize and frame the terrible attack.

In the nearly 30-minute video of the attack, none of the assailants reference Black Lives Matter, a movement that advocates against police brutality and for racial justice and does not condone anti-white violence. After #BLMKidnapping gained traction online and right-wing sites regularly characterized the attackers as Black Lives Members, BLMChicago that it had no affiliation with those in the video. :What happened to the teenager is terrible & tragic," BLMChicago tweeted. "However it has nothing to do with BLM."

"Of course we condemn it!" the organization replied in an earlier Tweet.

Not surprisingly, the hashtag was promoted heavily by alt-right types like Mike Cernovich on Wednesday night.

And as progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon pointed out, Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the inflammatory, extreme-right site operated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, got the snowball rolling on #BLMKidnapping in a link to his own Infowars post.

Black Lives Matter Chicago released a statement condemning the attack:

Activist journalist Shaun King, a frequent target of trolls, noted the hypocritical double standard of vilifying a larger population for the actions of a few:

As I type, the top trending topic in the country is now #BLMKidnapping. BLM stands for Black Lives Matter. The people in the video never even suggested such a thing. The Black Lives Matter Movement has never advocated such a thing. I have never advocated such a thing...

...What we are witnessing here is that fact that when particular African-Americans commit a crime, many whites use the crime to cast dispersions and stereotype all black folk. It’s a ridiculous double standard rooted in racism and oppression.

Former Chicago police officer Dimitri Roberts similarly threw cold water on a Black Lives Matter link. "This is hate. And hate doesn't have a color," Roberts told CNN. "So for folks to talk about this is somehow connected to Black Lives Matter is absolutely the wrong way to look at this. ... And we cannot respond to hate with hate. It's just going to perpetuate the cycle."

Another sad canard that spread on social media on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning was that those who pointed out Black Lives Matter's condemnation were somehow more upset with the mischaracterization than with the attack itself. But pointing out both the horrific nature of the assault and the odious, racially-charged framing of #BLMKidnapping should not be mutually exclusive.