In the late hours of election night, three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in Washington, D.C., after being stabbed by three assailants who haven’t been identified, are still at large and are Black, according to police. D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department initially responded to the attack by giving off big Donald Trump energy and making bold, reactionary and potentially harmful claims before the results are in.
Without a concluded investigation, police announced that the victims were members of the Proud Boys and the assailants were members of Black Lives Matter. By Wednesday, officials had changed their tune and admitted they didn’t know what affiliations either group had. Now, the Black Lives Matter chapter in D.C. is accusing the police of sending a message that “emboldens white supremacists” by prematurely linking BLM to the attack.
“The incident remains under investigation,” police said Wednesday, according to the Charlotte Observer. “And [the police department] cannot verify any specific affiliation of the suspects.”
Media outlets had already started reporting that Proud Boys were stabbed by BLM before MPD updated their report.
From the Observer:
But as of Wednesday morning, both WUSA9 and NBC4 reported that police walked back the report and alleged affiliations of those involved, with WJLA adding there was “no proof” to the victims’ allegations.
Police said the incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. on the 1400 block of New York Avenue, just blocks from the White House. Two adult males and an adult female suffered non-life threatening injuries and are expected to be OK, officials said.
Details of what led to the altercation are unclear, but police claimed the attack was captured on a social media livestream, NBC 4 reported.
Black Lives Matter D.C. was quick to deny any involvement. The organization said in a tweet Wednesday that MPD’s initial report “is a LIE,” accused media publications of “doing irresponsible dangerous journalism” and denounced police officials for “sharing false information.”
To be fair, it looks like the police were at least half right. Newsweek reports that one of the stabbing victims has been identified as Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio. Tarrio reportedly described his assailants as BLM members on social media site Parler. According to the Observer, police had said it was the victims who identified their attackers as BLM.
I’m just going to say it: It wouldn’t be the first time racists saw random Black people do a thing and just assumed they were part of BLM.
In September, The Root reported that a white doctor in Texas tweeted that his daughter and her boyfriend were attacked by “a group of BLM” in Baltimore. But audio and transcripts from 911 dispatch proved that the “group of BLM” were actually just Black kids with squeegees washing car windows. (This was only one of several inconsistencies regarding what was reported to the police of the alleged attack.)
Anyway, according to WJLA, police officials are chalking the reporting of false information up to, “shit happens.”
“At 2:30 in the morning when officers are trying to gather information on the scene, that information is preliminary in nature and oftentimes, unfortunately, it changes,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said during a Wednesday press conference. “So all I can say is that after more extensive investigation with the victims of the crime, we don’t know who they were affiliated with.”
BLM DC remains unconvinced that this was a simple case of “preliminary” information being reported. In a statement released Wednesday, the chapter condemned MPD for its “intentional spread of disinformation that emboldens white supremacists and undermines our movement in defense of Black lives.”
“We demand an immediate and full retraction of the outright lie spread by the MPD that BLM had anything to do with what did, or did not happen,” the statement continued. “MPD’s statement serves no other purpose than to stoke fear and incite violence on our communities. It is alarming that MPD would release this statement without any actual knowledge that BLM had something to do with did or did not happen. MPD has shown us they will protect white supremacists and criminalize BLM. White supremacists get private metro trains, police caravan and protection from MPD but Black lives get criminalized and persecuted in the media and criminal legal system.”