By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A Norwegian politician said he’s been bombarded with threats and hateful messages since he nominated the Black Lives Matter movement for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Petter Eide, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, told ABC News on Sunday that he was prepared for the criticism and has no plans to rescind the nomination.
“This weekend I have received so many negative responses from individual Americans telling me that Black Lives Matter is a violent and aggressive organization, that they are deliberately using violence as a political communication tool and that nominating them for the Nobel Peace Prize is quite insane,” Eide said in a phone interview with ABC News.
Eide declined to elaborate on the messages he has received, but said, “They were very nasty, and some of them were also threats. They were hateful.”
Thousands of mostly peaceful protests organized by BLM have occurred across the country and the world in recent months over police-involved killings of Black people, including the death in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The movement has been blamed by critics, including former President Donald Trump, for vandalism, looting and assaults against police officers during confrontations that have accompanied some of the demonstrations.
Protests in cities including Seattle, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland, Oregon, have, at times, been declared riots by police as some agitators have looted, committed arson and other crimes.
Eide, the former secretary general of the Norwegian branch of Amnesty International, said he researched the protest movement thoroughly before putting it up for the prestigious award that includes a $1 million prize.
“We found studies showing more than 90% of the demonstrations in the U.S. were peaceful. Most of those incidents of violence was based on either aggressive police behavior or counter-demonstrations,” said Eide, who has represented the Socialist Left Party in the Norwegian parliament since 2017. “I’m quite convinced that Black Lives Matter is a peaceful organization.”
Eide wrote in his nomination papers that BLM has forced the United States and other countries to confront racial injustice and police brutality.
“I believe that Black Lives Matter today represents the strongest global force or global movement to fight racial injustice,” Eide said of why he nominated the movement for the award.
The BLM movement was launched in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the white neighborhood watch member, in the fatal 2012 shooting of Black teenager Trayvon Martin, who Zimmerman mistook for a prowler.
In July, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 63% of Americans supported the BLM movement, and 69% agreed that Black people and other minorities are denied equal treatment in the criminal justice system.
“We hold the largest social movement in global history,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network wrote in a Twitter post after receiving the nomination on Friday. “Today, we have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. People are waking up to our global call: for racial justice and an end to economic injustice, environmental racism, and white supremacy. We’re only getting started.”
Hawk Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, said it’s an “honor” and a significant achievement for the movement to be nominated, and he praised the millions people in America who turned out in the streets across the nation over the spring and summer. Four polls conducted over the summer, including ones by the Pew Research Center and Kaiser Family Foundation, found that between 16 million to 26 million people in America participated in BLM protests following Floyd’s death, making it the largest social movement in U.S. history.
“This is for the activists who are not full-time activists. This is for the people who had love in their hearts and came out to fight for a cause,” Newsome told ABC News on Sunday. “This is about the movement in its totality, from the biggest pieces to the smallest pieces. This is about people who are seeking Black liberation, coming out of their comfort zones and speaking truth to power.”
Newsome said the threats and hateful comments aimed at Eide are a cause for concern, but also par for the course.
“I’d like to personally welcome him to the club, because we receive death threats every day,” Newsome said. “So, he’s officially part of this movement. It’s a badge of honor.”
Eide noted that the Nobel Committee has a history of giving the peace prize to controversial individuals and organizations. In 1964, the award was presented to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1993, Nelson Mandela and former South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk shared the award for their work in peacefully ending their country’s apartheid regime.
On Saturday, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation was awarded Sweden’s Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020. Organizers of the award, which includes a $100,000 prize, honored BLM for promoting “peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence” around the world.
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