NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – The Internet fact finder Snopes.com has confirmed as true vitriolic comments made by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Miami July 30, now that the video showing the leader advocating the murder of white people has gained traction in social media.
Christian Examiner, using a video clip of the fiery sermon and a printed version of the text from Farrakhan's website as sources, reported that Farrakhan said to the applause of his audience at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church that he needed 10,000 volunteers to rise up and kill whites, even if it cost them their lives.
"Retaliation is a prescription from God .... So if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling," Farrakhan said.
The video of Farrakhan's address to the church also appeared on Farrakhan's Facebook page, followed by hundreds of comments from followers promising to do "whatever is necessary" to free black people from oppression.
Now, Snopes.com claims "documentation [of the speech] is easy enough to find." The site provides further documentation of the claims made by Farrakhan, which are not his first. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the site reports, sees Farrakhan as a "black separatist," "anti-Semite" and "extremist."
The mainstream media has not reported Farrakhan's comments – and isn't likely to do so – even though the comments made by Farrakhan, some have argued, could have resulted in charges and probably should have. But according to World Net Daily, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for South Florida said he will not investigate the threats.
"After looking into the matter we have determined that the Farrakhan speech is protected by the First Amendment and we will not be pursuing an investigation into the speech," Louis Delgado, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said.
The decision not to pursue an investigation into Farrakhan's fiery rhetoric is unusual because the video was broadcast over the Internet. Under U.S. 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), it is a federal crime to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another.
The statute and similar state laws have been used on many occasions to prosecute those who have made threats. For example, on July 6, 2015, a Fort Worth teenager was arrested for threatening to attack a local church in a Columbine-style shooting on social media. In December 2014, an Illinois man was arrested for threatening to kill police officers and "white kids" on Facebook. Secret Service agents often arrest those who threaten public officials over Facebook and other social media outlets.
It may have been the "if" at the beginning of Farrakhan's statement that has him steering clear of charges. The Supreme Court has ruled since 1969 in Watts v. United States that even distasteful – and threatening – political hyperbole is protected free speech. It is still up to authorities to determine if the threat is legitimate.
On July 20, 2015, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania Zane Memeger wrote that in U.S. legal precedent "true threats" encompass statements where the speaker means "to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals ... The speaker need not actually carry out the threat."
"When assessing whether a communication constitutes a true threat, context is important. Various factors must be considered, including the following: the reaction of the person who received the threat; the history and relationship between the defendant and the victim; whether the threat was communicated directly to the victim; and whether the threat was conditional. By properly assessing these factors at the investigative and charging stages of a case, federal prosecutors can avoid, minimize, and overcome defense arguments to the trier of fact that the defendant was purely exercising free speech rights protected by the First Amendment," Memeger wrote.
Farrakhan, however, clearly intended to communicate a solid threat, as a new Facebook posting shows.
On Aug. 10, Farrakhan wrote, "What good is it to say justice and there is no threat? We don't have time to play with the principle of justice! Justice is a principle of fair dealing—we have never been dealt fairly since our fathers set the soles of their feet in the Western Hemisphere.
"Neither have our Indigenous brothers and sisters called 'Native Americans'; they haven't been dealt with fairly! Neither have the Mexicans, and so many others. So justice is what we want. And we're not playing with the government of the United States of America; we are demanding what God demands of us! And there definitely is an 'or else' from us, but the biggest 'Or Else' comes from God Himself."
Farrakhan's demands for justice, and even his threats of violence, are not new. In October 2007, Farrakhan said in an address in Atlanta that the "time has come or may soon come for us to retaliate for injustice."
A video of the address was added to Farrakhan's Facebook page Aug. 7. In the video he asks the Justice Department to "step up to the plate" and prosecute the "army of police, FBI, ATF, sheriffs and what not" who are oppressing blacks in America.
"What are you trying to force us to do? Do you want us to go to that point, even if that would be committing suicide? It would be better to commit suicide than to continue to live under the very shadow of death from your evil hand. Do you want me as the voice of the honorable Elijah Muhammad and, really, the voice of God, to ask our people to retaliate in matters of the slain – a life for a life? Is that what you're driving us to? Do you want your country to go up in smoke? Do you want us to call for our 400,000 black men and women that are serving in the armed forces of America to come out and come home for our fight is in America with the evil forces of racism?"
Farrakhan also said in 2007 that retaliation was commanded in the Quran. He also said his god was on his side and would kill all of the oppressors before they could kill 300 blacks.
"I'm backed up by a god. I'm not a preacher that don't have backup. And as you call for your backup I'll call for my backup, and you don't want to meet my backup," Farrakhan said.