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‘1619 Project’ Creator Apologizes For Promoting Conspiracy On BLM And ‘Government Forces’
Around 20.000 people demonstrated again in Paris, France, on June 13, 2020 following the national appeal launched by the collective ''Verite pour Adama'' against racism and police violence. On this occasion the demonstrators took the opportunity to criticise the stance of certain police unions (Alliance, SGP Police) demanding the maintenance of the arrest technique known as the ''choke key'' which the Minister of the Interior was considering banning because of its dangerousness and following the death of George Floyd in the United States. (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After her Twitter account was temporarily deactivated over the weekend following a series of controversial posts — including one about Native Americans bringing “enslaved black people they owned on the Trail of Tears” — the creator of The New York Times’ “1619 Project” issued an apology for promoting a conspiratorial thread alleging that “government forces” were using fireworks in an attempt to “destabilize” the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize this year for her lead-in essay to the “1619 Project,” despite the paper having to issue a significant correction on it’s most pivotal claim: that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” During the course of the protests and riots sparked by the tragic police-involved death of George Floyd, Hannah-Jones, who describes herself as “The Beyoncé of Journalism” and “smart and thuggish,” has been quite active online, promoting the protests, at times appearing to defend rioters, and generally promoting the Black Lives Matter cause.

In one since-deleted tweet on Sunday, Hannah-Jones encouraged her 360,000 followers to read a conspiratorial thread by a Brooklyn author about an alleged governmental attempt to sabotage the Black Lives Matter movement.

As detailed by National Review, the thread, posted by Robert Jones Jr., claimed that increasingly frequent firework displays in Brooklyn and Queens were part of “a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces” that may be “the first wave before whatever the next stage of the attack is.”

“There is NO WAY IN THE WORLD that young Black and Brown people would otherwise have access to these PROFESSIONAL fireworks,” her wrote. “These are Macy’s July 4th/New Year’s-level displays and sonic booms reserved generally for the wealthiest people and institutions.”

He also suggested that the alleged fireworks scheme “could also be the police attempting to retaliate against our calls to defund/abolish the police by creating the circumstances for a continuous public nuisance and then purposely failing to respond to it.”

In an emailed statement to National Review on Monday, Hannah-Jones expressed regret for promoting the conspiratorial thread and explained her rationale for instructing her followers to “read this.”

“I should not have retweeted that tweet thread. I was curious about what other people thought of it as I have seen lots of comments on the unusual nature of fireworks this year, but I did not make that clear,” said Hannah-Jones. “That was an irresponsible use of my platform and beneath my own standards, which is why I deleted my Tweet.”

Along with the conspiratorial post, the Pulitzer-winner tweeted over the weekend, “Did you know Native people brought the enslaved black people they owned on the Trail of Tears?” Like the conspiratorial post, Hannah-Jones later chose to delete that tweet amid backlash.

Additionally, Hannah-Jones declared Sunday that it would be “an honor” if the riots and anti-historical monument movement in the country were renamed the “1619 Riots,” an idea floated by The New York Post after “1619” was spray painted on a toppled statue of President Ulysses S. Grant. As the toppling of the Grant monument, Hannah-Jones wrote: “I think maybe Grant’s is not a statue worth toppling. But I also understand after decades of shrugs when people spoke of the hurt of having been demeaned by public tributes, of entering buildings, of walking past art that celebrated white supremacists, how overzealousness occurs.”

The “1619 Project” has been strongly criticized by several prominent historians, among them James McPherson, one of the foremost historians on the Civil War, who called it a “very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery.” After bing “vigorously disputed,” the project’s claim that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery” has been walked back. Despite other problematic claims in the project, some educational programs intend to incorporate it into their materials.

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