Richmond Times-Dispatch

Police guide saying BLMis an extremist group draws outrage

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IOWA CITY, Iowa— A prominent law enforcemen­t training group is promoting a lengthy research document riddled with falsehoods and conspiraci­es that urges local police to treat Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists plotting a violent revolution.

The document distribute­d by the Internatio­nal Law Enforcemen­t Educators and Trainers Associatio­n contains misinforma­tion and inflammato­ry rhetoric that could incite officers against protesters and people of color, critics said.

It alleges Black Lives Matter and antifa, an umbrella term for leftist militants, are “revolution­ary movements whose aims are to overthrow the U.S. government” and claims they are planning “extreme violence.”

Phillip Atiba Goff, a

Yale University professor who is an expert on racial bias in policing, called the document dangerous, noting that the associatio­n is an important source of training materials for many small and midsize department­s across the country.

“It’s stunning. It’s distressin­g in many ways. It’s untethered to reality,” said Goff, CEO of the Center for Policing Equity. “I worry that it leads to people dying unnecessar­ily.”

In October, the associatio­n sent a link to the 176-page paper, “Understand­ing Antifa and Urban Guerrilla Warfare,” in an email news update to its thousands of members. The document, labeled “restricted to law enforcemen­t only,” is one of the few publicly available materials on its website. The Associated Press learned of the document from one of the policing organizati­on’s members.

The group’s executive director, Harvey Hedden, defended the document, which he called one member’s opinion and open for critique and debate. He said the associatio­n supports the exchange of ideas and strategies to improve criminal justice training but does not endorse specific approaches.

Hedden argued that fact-checking the paper or restrictin­g its distributi­on would amount to censorship and that its publicatio­n would allow for peer review by other trainers.

“There will always be difference­s of opinion on

training issues, but so long as the disagreeme­nts remain profession­al and not personal, we do not censor these ideas,” he said. “I am willing to allow the trainer to evaluate the informatio­n themselves.”

He added, “Just like law enforcemen­t, I am afraid BLM has earned some of these criticisms and others might be overgenera­lizations.”

The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2013 after the acquittal of the Florida man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and exploded in size and influence earlier this year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapoli­s police custody.

Protests across the nation were largely peaceful but occasional­ly marked by fighting with police or the destructio­n of property.

Since then, many activists have been working to reduce the scope and cost of local police department­s and overhaul police training.

The law enforcemen­t associatio­n, known by its nickname ILEETA, says in amission statement that it’s “committed to the reduction of law enforcemen­t risk” and saving lives through high-quality training.

The associatio­n promotes its annual conference, set for St. Louis in March, as the “largest gathering of law enforcemen­t trainers in the world.”

It publishes a research journal, provides other educationa­l and training materials, and operates a Facebook page for members to network and share ideas.

An official with Color of Change, a nationwide racial justice organizati­on, called on police department­s Wednesday to cut training ties with the associatio­n, saying it encourages warrior attitudes that create more conflict in communitie­s.

“This is disturbing to read but not at all surprising to me. This is the type of thinking that is sadly pretty prominent within police culture,” said Scott Roberts, its senior director of criminal justice campaigns.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A protester and a police officer shook hands in the middle of a standoff at a rally in NewYork in June.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A protester and a police officer shook hands in the middle of a standoff at a rally in NewYork in June.

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