“The Summer of Chaos” just won’t die. The widely debunked meme claiming Black Lives Matter activists were colluding with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and billionaire George Soros resurfaced in a lawsuit filed by a policeman wounded in an ambush in Baton Rouge in 2016.
That suit, filed Friday by an unnamed police officer who was left permanently disabled after being shot in an ambush, claims the shooter, Gavin Eugene Long, was influenced by the anti-police rhetoric of Black Lives Matter.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants — five prominent Black Lives Matter activists — orchestrated the so-called “Summer of Chaos,” cultivating an atmosphere that encouraged “others to harm police in retaliation for the death of black men killed by police.”
This, according to the lawsuit, was part of a grander plan to engage in “violence calculated to lead to the imposition of martial law.”
One problem: The so-called “Summer of Chaos” is a conspiracy theory created by the alt-right blogosphere. The news site Intellihub first published a story alleging Black Lives Matter protests were part of an elaborate scheme to disrupt key election events, trigger the implementation of martial law, and ultimately allow President Barack Obama to seize a third term in office.
The lawsuit references the meme as it attempts to blame Black Lives Matter for Long’s actions. According to the complaint, Long “went to Baton Rouge to exact revenge for killing and acting out in violence, as [Black Lives Matter] had directed its followers as to how to react to the killing of black men by police, and that retaliation against police was proper behavior in warfare and revolution.”
The suit names as defendants key figures associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, including DeRay McKesson, Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, and founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, as well as the movement as a whole.
“The leaders of [Black Lives Matter] not only incited the violence against police in retaliation for the death of black men shot by police but also did nothing to dissuade the ongoing violence and injury to police,” alleges “Officer John Doe,” age 42, father of two and an 18-year veteran of the force, who was shot in his head, abdomen, and shoulder. “ In fact, they justified the violence as necessary to the movement and war.”
Referencing “The Summer of Chaos” added a layer to the conspiracy, and connects it to a theme that has simmered in the alt-right blogosphere for the past year.
It began when when Intellihub published allegedly hacked private correspondence between Black Lives Matter activists — including McKesson, Elzie, and Samuel Sinyangwe — in which they appeared to speak broadly and openly about their plot to destabilize the United States with a little help from the Obama Administration.
McKesson confirmed to fact-checking site Snopes that his account was hacked and the correspondence was fabricated.
“The Summer of Chaos” term gained traction the month after two officer-involved deaths of black men (Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge) triggered nationwide protests, and culminated in two separate ambushes of police officers: one in Dallas, and the Gavin Long shooting in Baton Rouge.
Donna Grodner, the attorney representing the officer, was not available for comment.
Long, a former Marine who served in Iraq and who died during a shootout with police, touted himself as a life coach and produced rambling videos and writings where he discussed spirituality, masculinity, fitness, police shootings, and race. He identified himself as a member of the anti-government sovereign citizen movement, but in a video manifesto recorded before he traveled to Baton Rouge, he asserted that he was “not affiliated” with any group.
McKesson and other prominent figures associated with the Black Lives Matter movement condemned the tragedy and said the movement did not condone violence against police officers, reiterating calls for peaceful protest.
The officer is seeking $75,000 in damages.