Who are Black Lives Matter? Where did they come from and what, exactly, do they believe in?

These may seem silly questions. But in a month when Premier League footballers have joined Sir Keir Starmer and other British celebrities in ‘taking the knee’ to express their ‘collective support for the Black Lives Matter movement’, it is important that we ask them.

Ask most people who have protested on Britain’s streets following the killing of George Floyd and you will probably get one of two answers.

First, they will tell you that Black Lives Matter is a group appalled by police brutality against people of colour. It wishes to reform America’s lopsided justice system, which allows the black community, who make up about 13 per cent of the U.S. population, to account for 37 per cent of its prisoners and a disproportionate number of the thousand-odd people killed each year by its police.

In just over a fortnight, some 33,000 people have used the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to donate to an organisation calling itself ‘Black Lives Matter UK’. The group has raised almost a million pounds in the process

Secondly, Black Lives Matter’s UK supporters will tell you it exists to campaign against the systemic racism that still exists in pockets of British society.

As they point out, economic and social inequality regrettably still affect swathes of our black and other minority communities, just as they do almost everywhere else in the Western world.

Both these motivations are entirely noble. So it is little wonder that — besides sparking lively debate about vandalised statues, the legacy of colonialism and our nation’s historic role in the slave trade — the recent protests have prompted many well-meaning people to make generous donations to this modish political cause.

In just over a fortnight, some 33,000 people have used the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to donate to an organisation calling itself ‘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 offshoot of its American counterpart. It has been formally ‘verified’ as such by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites that carry its content — and is therefore highly influential as well as suddenly rich.

Yet while our country’s branch of the lobby group campaigns against police brutality and structural racism just as its transatlantic sibling does, those are not its only specific goals.

Ask most people who have protested on Britain’s streets following the killing of George Floyd and you will probably get one of two answers. Pictured: BLM protesters in London on June 13

Indeed, while most donors and supporters may assume Black Lives Matter UK exists to lobby against racism, the group’s leaders, who remain largely anonymous, can use its financial muscle to pursue a smorgasbord of far-Left aims.

Some are extreme and many appear to have nothing to do with advancing racial equality.

On the group’s GoFundMe page, a statement outlining the Black Lives Matter UK policy agenda was uploaded a few days ago. It explains that the organisation intends to be ‘guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world’.

Which is highly contentious. For while few would disagree that ‘white supremacy’, such as it exists in Britain, is a bad thing, the idea that ‘capitalism’ is intrinsically racist is a minority view.

If those behind Black Lives Matter UK really do intend to ‘dismantle’ capitalism, what might they wish to replace it with? And how would that benefit people of colour?

The only alternative system practised elsewhere in the world is communism. But as China’s Uighur Muslims, or the 1.5 million people from ethnic minorities who were deported or sent to gulags by Josef Stalin, would attest, that system can be very racist indeed.

A source recently told The Guardian newspaper that Black Lives Matter UK is being run by ‘a core of around ten activists’ including a man called Joshua Virasami (pictured), ‘who has been with the movement since its incarnation’

The Black Lives Matter organisation in America does not cite ending capitalism as a policy goal. Perhaps it takes the view, held by plenty of lifelong opponents of racism, that capitalism has helped to lift billions of BAME people out of poverty around the world, including in America.

Elsewhere on its GoFundMe page, Black Lives Matter UK declares that it wishes to spend cash it has raised on ‘developing and delivering’ what it calls ‘strategies for the abolition of the police’.

Yet abolishing, rather than reforming, the police is an extreme policy with almost no public support outside a tiny circle of far-Left anarchists. While such a move would doubtless 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 else.

What might people of colour do, in a country that had abolished its police, if their home were burgled in the middle of the night?

It seems unlikely that many of those 33,000 people who gave so generously to Black Lives Matter UK were aware that any of their cash would be spent in pursuit of those two bizarre policy goals. And surely few of the 150,000-odd Britons who took part in BLM protests in recent weeks wish to abolish capitalism and disband the police.

Had they spent time perusing the organisation’s social media pages, they might have been a little more wary. There, it is starkly apparent that the organisation has been controlled for years by a small, radical cabal.

Elsewhere on its GoFundMe page, Black Lives Matter UK declares that it wishes to spend cash it has raised on ‘developing and delivering’ what it calls ‘strategies for the abolition of the police’. Pictured: Protesters outside the US embassy in London on June 7

On Twitter, where it has been active since mid-2016, @BLMUK has endorsed the complete closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres, saying in December of that year that they were ‘inhumane, overcrowded and unsafe [and] should be abolished.’

Where convicted terrorists, murderers and rapists should then be held was not discussed. Nor was any argument advanced to explain how this would benefit minorities.

The group has also expressed its opposition on Twitter to government initiatives including reform of the benefits system via the introduction of Universal Credit and the licensing of fracking.

Even when it has used Twitter to campaign against racism, @BLMUK has sometimes focused on curious targets. In recent years, it has attacked everyone from Oxfam (‘big charities are nothing more than colonisers for the 21st century’) to Sir David Attenborough.

The group accused an episode of his 2018 TV series Dynasties, on chimpanzees, of being racist because the BBC naturalist complained that habitat destruction due to overpopulation was threatening the species with extinction.

‘Human activities can obviously compete with wildlife,’ the anomymous BLM Tweeter opined. ‘But “too many people” always has a silent “black”.’

On Facebook, @BLMUK has posted support for everything from World Vegan Day to strikes over pay called by trade unions representing Ryanair cabin crew and Amazon warehouse workers.

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