A particularly insidious conspiracy theory has been making the rounds in recent weeks: That Deray McKesson and other Black Lives Matter activists are conspiring to sow chaos at the #Democratic Party and Republican Party's conventions this summer. The goal? To encourage the #Obama Administration to impose martial law, and allow President Obama to remain in office beyond next January.
"Summer of Chaos"
The story goes that McKesson’s Twitter account was hacked earlier this month, and that hack unearthed incriminating direct messages between McKesson and another activist, Johnetta "Netta" Elzie, in which they discuss a “Summer of Chaos”: plans to disrupt both political conventions this summer -- as part of an attempt to get President Obama to declare martial law and remain in office past his second term. In the conversations, the two activists discuss a plan to “start really pushing how racist Trump is,” and also reveal that “Mrs. Lynch”-- Attorney General Loretta Lynch -- is in on the plan to shut down both political conventions this summer.
The theory has spread on Twitter and Reddit. Here’s a YouTube description of the whole conspiracy theory which, among other things, alleges that Edward Snowden is in on the conspiracy:
If this were real -- if prominent activists were planning to sabotage democracy, and that the sitting attorney general of the United States were in on it, that would be a pretty big deal, would it not? Probably the biggest story of the presidential election cycle, right? But it’s not. Not even close.
True hack, false conspiracy
Deray McKesson really was hacked recently, as he admitted on his Twitter and in multiple media interviews, and the hackers even tweeted from his account, falsely, that McKesson was endorsing Trump for president. But none of his personal information has been released, and the incriminating DMs are obvious forgeries, which could have been produced by anyone with access to iMessage. None of the mainstream news articles about McKesson’s hack, from the likes of TechCrunch, Recode or various info security sites, mentioned contents of DMs from the hack.
There are several reasons why the story doesn’t ring true. When well-known people are hacked, it usually yields dozens or hundreds of incriminating photos or conversations, rather than exactly one. The conversation isn’t written the way normal people talk, but a lot like people who hate BLM think members of BLM talk. For one thing, it’s written as though no one has thought to call Donald Trump racist before. And theories about presidents declaring martial law to remain in office have been a stable for years, with none having come true yet.
Also? It’s hard to imagine leaders of an anti-police brutality movement pushing for martial law. Or the leading law enforcement official in the United States conspiring in social unrest or Lynch, a Democrat, plotting the shutdown of the Democratic Party's convention. And while many right-wingers believe President Obama and BLM are one and the same, the movement has been critical of the president at various times, and of Hillary Clinton even more so, and certainly wouldn’t be plotting a coup on behalf of either of them. As for the Snowden part, he tweeted about Deray having been hacked, not about the supposed DMs.
Where’s the media, indeed?
No reputable media outlet, even ones representing the far right, have touched this. Not even Breitbart.com, The Daily Caller or Glenn Beck’s operations, who certainly haven’t been shy about questionable conspiracy theories in the past. Wouldn’t those outlets be all over this, if there were any truth to it whatsoever? And if the messages were real and the hackers wanted to embarrass McKesson and BLM, wouldn’t they leak them to bigger media outlets, and not to random people on Twitter and Reddit?
Whatever you think about Black Lives Matter, or about Attorney General Lynch, rest easy: They’re not really planning a Summer of Chaos. #Election 2016