Protesters have been taking to the streets for months following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The protesters claim that the shooting was racially motivated and describe it as a gross injustice and an abuse of police power.
Protests have grown beyond the streets of Ferguson and erupted in cities all across the country. While many of them were peaceful, the protests have grown more violent following a grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown.
President Obama’s former chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel once stated, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” This is an opinion that leftist groups take to heart. These organizations have a history of utilizing national crisis’ to promote their own political agendas. Anyone keeping a close eye on the Ferguson protests will notice that this crisis is no different.
Since the beginning of the Ferguson protests, national pro-Palestinian organizations have been co-opting the Michael Brown protests to further their anti-Israel agenda. These groups are positioning themselves as leaders within a broad coalition of supporters seeking to target law enforcement under the guise of promoting social justice and protecting civil rights.
Since the protests have begun, national organizations such as Code Pink, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslims for Ferguson, and the Palestinian BDS National Committee have hijacked the Ferguson protests for their own purposes. These organizations have organized speakers, used social media, and created petitions that attempt to establish parallels between the Palestinians and Michael Brown.
Many of the people who support the Ferguson protests have no prior knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but Ferguson protesters have chosen sides, overwhelmingly showing solidarity with Palestinians. This opinion is not based on careful research, but on pro-Palestine groups’ willingness to glom on to other causes.
Members of these organizations traveled to Ferguson to march with other protesters. While in Ferguson, they weaved a pro-Palestinian message into the protests. They donned Palestinian keffiyas (traditional headscarves), pro-Palestinian t-shirts, and carried signs that said things such as, “Occupation is a crime, Ferguson to Palestine, Resist U.S. Racism, Boycott Israel.”
The pro-Palestinian sentiment throughout the Ferguson protests has led Palestinians in the Middle East to twitter in order to add to the Palestinian cause globally. Palestinians have been posting photos encouraging the protestors in Ferguson. These photos have received a sizable level of support from individuals who support the Ferguson protests.
Notably, Detroit Lion Reggie Bush posted a picture on his Instagram account of a man holding a sign reading, “The Palestinian people know what mean [sic] to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity #ferguson #justice.”
Anti-Israel sentiments are not the only agenda item these organizations are pushing at the Ferguson protests. CAIR and other Muslim groups have also conspired with each other to equate the Ferguson shooting to the death of a radical Islamist Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah.
Abdullah, who has had a long criminal history, was shot and killed after he opened fire on FBI agents. CAIR officials have attempted to use the Brown protests to advance a narrative of the Abdullah shooting, as a conspiratorial effort by police to intimidate Muslims.
Attending protests and drawing superficial similarities between two unrelated causes is a creative propaganda effort aimed at garnering greater support to their own cause and positioning themselves as civil rights leaders. These organizations are deceptively painting the Michael Brown shooting, the Abdullah shooting, and Palestinian statehood as issues that fall under the same broad brush in an effort to push a political agenda.
It is deceptive for a group to claim popular support for their cause if they had to hijack another cause to get it. It is important to call out these organizations for using protesters as pawns to acquire support for their own political agendas.
Alex VanNess is the Manager of Public Information for the Center for Security Policy. Prior to coming to the Center, Mr. VanNess worked as an Intern for Congressman Doug Lamborn and then later as a member of staff for Congressman Tom McClintock of California. Alex holds a degree in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, and has pursued the study of Jewish Law and Philosophy at Shor Yoshuv Rabbinical College in New York.