Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney for President Donald Trump and former mayor of New York City, spun a series of conspiracy theories about the Black Lives Matter movement during his June 28 radio show on WABC in New York, even suggesting that it could possibly be prosecuted under RICO laws.
Along with his co-host Maria Ryan, Giuliani presented Black Lives Matter as a subversive movement that is covertly organizing and mobilizing a violent uprising for the overthrow of America.
RUDY GIULIANI (CO-HOST): The inquiry for today is very simple. Is Black Lives Matter a nonviolent civil rights group, as some say, and many believe — because millions of dollars are being given to it by companies in America — or is it a Marxist group seeking to destroy American constitutional government, including by the use of violence, and replace it with something it's articulated, a Black Lives Matter form of socialism?
Ryan went on to describe how Black Lives Matter was formed in response to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager in Florida. (To be more exact, the Black Live Matter organization's own website says it was formed in response to the acquittal of Martin's killer, George Zimmerman.) Ryan also described the Zimmerman case as one "where the facts could and did support a defense of self-defense."
In fact, testimony at Zimmerman's trial by a police department official showed that when Zimmerman first sought to organize a neighborhood watch organization, one of the pieces of advice that the department provided was that "members of such groups were not supposed to follow" any person they believed to be suspicious — as Zimmerman actually did to Martin before ultimately killing him.
Giuliani then spun a conspiracy theory surrounding Black Lives Matter. "I mean, Black Lives Matter tries very hard to hide the violence that takes place at their rallies, but they really don't do it very well," he declared.
Giuliani then accused the Black Lives Matter movement of inspiring the horrific 2016 sniper attack at a Dallas protest in 2016, in which five officers were killed and seven officers and two civilians were injured. The shooting took place during a protest over police shootings of Black men across the country, and the event was reported as having been peacefully conducted until that point.
"So, now you have a whole group of protests that become riots — some very bad, some not so bad — between then, and then we get to [the] May 25 death of George Floyd, which as far as I can tell is something they were waiting for and planning for," Giuliani said. "And if you read their documents -- if you just take the time to read their documents, which most people don't seem to do and get fooled -- you'd realize this was something they wanted to pounce on."
Giuliani also read a series of issue positions from the affiliated Movement for Black Lives, many of them having to do with the idea of providing reparations to Black Americans. "And I think if you took the time to read it, you wouldn't donate money to them," he said. "In fact, you'd wonder if somebody shouldn't be investigated."
"A guaranteed minimum income for all Blacks, they get paid for the rest of their lives," Giuliani said. "Nobody else does — not for Hispanics, not for whites."
"So we're not all created equal," Ryan responded.
"No, no, no," Giuliani said. "It's not socialism, it's a special brand of socialism. Socialism for us, and guaranteed income for them."
At another point, Giuliani appeared to evoke fears similar to those pushed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
"'A right to restored land,' this is interesting," he said. "There's something there, they can pick out a piece of property and say, 'We can have that, that's ours.'"
The actual section on the Movement for Black Lives website in which the term "restored land" was used was clearly a reference to environmental justice, not some kind of chaotic land seizures:
A right to restored land, clean air, clean water and housing and an end to the exploitative privatization of natural resources — including land and water. We seek democratic control over how resources are preserved, used and distributed and do so while honoring and respecting the rights of our Indigenous family.
Giuliani also cited a fringe figure not affiliated with the mainline Black Lives Matter movement, and who has been accused of profiting off the movement while pushing an expressly militant message — but who was recently elevated in right-wing media by an appearance on Fox News.
"Hawk Newsome really stuck it to them the other day," Giuliani said. "Because he went on national television, says he wants to burn it down — wants to burn us down."
Giuliani and Ryan also took a variety of comments and questions from callers. Responding to one caller, Ryan described corporate donations to Black Lives Matter as an elaborate conspiracy.
MARIA RYAN (CO-HOST): Please remember what's happening here. They are arming people, they're paying people to disrupt your way of life. Law-abiding citizens who have businesses are threatened, their businesses are being burned, this is not healthy discord at all. This is militant and exploitative.
Another caller declared, "Behind Black Lives Matter is someone named George Soros," a liberal philanthropist and frequent target of anti-Semitic smears and conspiracy theories from right-wing media. The caller claimed that Soros' Open Society Foundation had a "leaked document, OK, that basically said just this: To take advantage, if there is any Black person that is killed, take advantage of it [to] create a crisis."
"Judy, you have a great point about George Soros," Ryan responded. "Not only does he fund anarchist movements like this, he also funds a lot of D.A. races, a lot of politicians, a lot of mayors that are left of left, who really don't like this country. I don't — the whole world is upside down. George Soros even wrote e congressional people in the House talking points. If you ever look at some of the Democrats, they say the same thing repeatedly."
Giuliani added: "The Soros thing is difficult because you can't put the proof to it that I would like to put, like a lawyer and a prosecutor. I know what you're talking about, I sure don't contradict it, I just can't prove it."
Another caller asked if the Black Lives Matter movement and those donating to it could be investigated under RICO statutes, which are meant for the prosecution of organized crime. Giuliani called this "a great recommendation."
"The RICO laws would apply if you could show a common purpose to commit crimes, and it has to be certain crimes, and the crimes have to fit into a federal category," Giuliani said. "Now if you followed the money, and you found fraud and things like that, you'd be real close to being able to have a RICO case."
Update (7/04/2020): This post has been updated to add additional context regarding Ryan's comments about the killing of Trayvon Martin.
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