Opal Tometi, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, defended disruptive tactics Wednesday, saying there is a “duty” to do whatever it takes for supporters to get their message across.
Speaking at the Aspen Institute’s ideas summit in Washington, D.C., Ms. Tometi also responded to accusations that her movement amounted to hate speech against non-black Americans, saying that they believe they are helping everyone by bringing focus to their priorities.
“When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we’re not saying that any other life doesn’t matter. That has never, ever been our message. Our message has always been from a place of love,” she told the Atlantic’s Scott Stossel. “Love for our people, a love for even our society and our brothers and sisters.
“It’s a distraction in many ways, and some folks want to pick apart the words. But if they truly understand the realities of the black experience in the U.S. they would not be so scared to come alongside us and to really speak authentically and earnestly about what’s taking place,” she said.
Activists shouted down former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this summer when he countered the Black Lives Matter slogan by saying that “all lives matter.” Mr. O’Malley later apologized for showing disrespect to the movement.
Ms. Tometi was asked about disruptive tactics such as shouting down politicians and plans by Black Lives Matter activists in Minnesota who plan to try to ruin a marathon this weekend.
“Whatever means you need to take, we think people should do that,” she said — though she stressed that praise only extended to “really courageous acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.”