#BlackLivesMatter embraces Seattle activists, deny they demanded an apology to Bernie Sanders

Early this morning, DeadState published a piece that called into question the connection between the #BlackLivesMatter movement and activists Marissa Jenae Johnson and Mara Jacqueline, who stormed the stage at a Seattle Bernie Sanders rally this Saturday.

We want to reiterate what we pointed out in the original piece; the conspiracy theories circulating the Internet from various websites and blogs surrounding the pair’s motives are easily debunked. Suggestions that Johnson is a “Sarah Palin supporter” or that any past support she had for Sarah Palin is influencing her actions this weekend do not hold up.

…a cursory examination of the comment thread on the Facebook post where this originated, reveals that Johnson was referring to her early political leanings in high school which have since changed.

Also, some have suggested that posts Johnson has made on social media alluding to her Christian faith is evidence that she is a “conservative” or “radical” Christian, thus giving her a motive to attack progressive gatherings like the Sanders rally. Again, this is sloppy speculation.

…it’s true that she spouts some pretty nutty religious rhetoric on social media — she’s definitely a devout Christian of some sort — but there is no evidence that she is a “conservative” Christian.

But apparently, the connections between Johnson, Jacqueline, and the group Outside Agitators 206 to the BLM movement are not as unclear as we believed. Posting on her Facebook page today, the Los Angeles co-founder of BLM Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac openly embraced the Seattle activists and defended them against attacks from bloggers and the media:

Mara Jacqueline and Marissa Jenae deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They are [a part] of BLM. I support them in their leadership. Please discontinue harming them through social media. If you have questions about what Black Lives Matter’s does. Please message me. I’m tired of folks not being principled or just hateful for no good reason.

“BLM did not circulate a petition asking for an apology,” she added, referring to a petition on Change.org which many assumed was evidence of “the real” BLM distancing itself from the Seattle event. “We are not circulating articles that are slandering these women’s names. Cut this sh*t out, yall.”

A post on the long-established BLM Facebook page (on which we assume Cullors-Brignac is an administrator) echoed this same sentiment:

The #BlackLivesMatter organization did not create any petitions demanding apology from Seattle based organizers. We have…

Posted by Black Lives Matter on Sunday, August 9, 2015


Also, it appears that Facebook and Twitter accounts which called for the Seattle activists to apologize to the Sanders campaign were operated by lone actors with their own agendas.

Ok these past few hours have been confusing for everyone, but I would like everyone to know that I’m not deleting the…

Posted by Black in Seattle on Saturday, August 8, 2015


Whether or not you agree with the tactic of targeting Sanders’ rallies, their methods are clearly working. After being interrupted for the second time by activists claiming the BLM moniker, Sanders has announced a revamped racial justice platform with the hiring of a known African American racial justice activist, Symone Sanders, (no relation) to be his national press secretary.

We’ll continue to update this story as it develops.

Below is audio from an appearance on the TWIB podcast this Monday where Marissa Jenae Johnson speaks out on the controversy. At about 18:30 of the audio, she speaks about the allegations that she’s a “Sarah Palin” supporter:

Featured image: Alex Garland

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