Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County response to inaccurate and dangerous Facebook post by NC Rep. Larry Pittman

Davis Wright Tremaine, the law firm representing Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, today sent the following letter to Larry Pittman, Republican representative for the 83rd district of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Re: June 15 Facebook Post

Dear Rep. Pittman:

We represent Black Lives Matter Seattle King County (“BLMSKC”) and write in response to your ugly June 15, 2020 Facebook post regarding our client’s organization and your suggestions for how Seattle should police its protests. We categorically dispute your assertion that BLMSKC’s members constitute “ignorant thugs,” “domestic terrorists,” “criminals,” or “vermin,” and that their protests are “anti-American actions.”

To the contrary, BLMSKC is specifically committed to peaceful protests in exercise of their First Amendment rights to express the hurt and frustration of the community, petition the government for meaningful change, and to assemble peacefully with others in support. In fact, its leadership has repeatedly rejected the notion that BLMSKC condones or participates in violence.

Moreover, your attempt to associate BLMSKC with illegal activity is not only incorrect, it also severely threatens the lives of thousands of peaceful protesters in Seattle who also condemn the violence. By suggesting that police “shoot” any protester “[i]f they resist [arrest] and attack you,” you are effectively calling for the outright murder of American citizens. And when you state that “[w]e had better put a stop to it now, while we are still free to do so” because “[t]hey are bent on destroying our country and our way of life,” other individuals that harbor misguided or racist ill-will towards BLMSKC or the peaceful protesters may also take your words to mean that they should shoot peaceful protesters.

Your call for deadly violence against peaceful protests is especially concerning because it echoes similar calls of violence from other members of the Republican Party. Your statement is arguably a more explicit version of the president’s tweets calling for officers to shoot and kill protesters when they’re accused of looting. Right-wing media outlets have continued to inaccurately depict Seattle as a city in chaos, while you and your Republican colleagues continue to insist that the only solution is to escalate, using even violence and to bring about even more death.

We have already seen the effects of this dangerous rhetoric. Because of this rhetoric, one Black protester in Seattle was shot by a white man who attempted to drive through a crowd.

Because of this rhetoric, white residents targeted and terrorized a multiracial family in Forks, Washington.

Contrary to your understanding of what is happening here, no one in Seattle has died from these demonstrations, yet your proposed solution would result in systematic death at an unconscionable scale. While much of the country has largely mobilized in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, you, on the other hand, have expressed a bloodlust towards people of color that should disgust every American.

While you also have First Amendment rights to discuss matters of public concern—like the recent murders of George Floyd and others or the protests that have occurred—BLMSKC requests that you remove your inflammatory and false post. In calling for the killing of our members, your words have caused significant concern for the safety of American citizens and fear among the general community. Given that you are an elected official, with duties of representation, we hope that you would support your own constituents’ First Amendment rights and recognize that such unfounded accusations can have a tragic impact on the lives of innocent Americans.