The Sydney Peace Foundation is giving its prestigious 2017 international peace prize to Black Lives Matter, despite the less-than-peaceful tactics of some of the group’s followers.
The Sydney Peace Prize, affiliated with the University of Sydney, seeks to honor those who fight for the poor and oppressed, push back against racial discrimination, broker peace, save the planet, or “promote nonviolence and demand aggressors put down their weapons.”
Black Lives Matter is deliberately “decentralized and leaderful”—”bottom-up” traits that led the Sydney Peace Prize to praise it for being “inclusive.”
But that same decentralized structure has made it difficult for the movement to counter allegations that it endorses the non-peaceful rhetoric and tactics that some of its supporters have employed.
After five police officers were shot and killed at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas last summer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he does “blame former Black Lives Matter protests” for creating conditions for violence. Prominent activists within the movement denounced the cop killings and the use of violence more broadly. But in the past year, several protests held under the Black Lives Matter brand have become violent.
Black Lives Matter was chosen for the 2017 award “for building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism,” the announcement said.
Past awards have gone to far-left public figures, including Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. But this is the first time the award has ever gone to a group and not an individual. Black Lives Matter will receive a $50,000 prize, as well as a handcrafted trophy and recognition at a November 2 award ceremony.