CVE is Trump’s Ugly Anti-Muslim Words Put Into Action in Schools and Community

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A Civil Libertarian’s Guide to 2016 Ballot Initiatives
November 7, 2016
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FBI Voter Suppression Then, FBI Voter Suppression Now
November 8, 2016

Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric made waves again over the weekend when he visited Minnesota and ranted against the Somali immigrant community there. He told a crowd in Minneapolis that Somali refugees had brought “terrorism, extremism, and radicalism into your schools and throughout your community.” He called the situation in Minnesota “a disaster.”

Betsy Hodges, the Democratic Mayor of Minneapolis, rebutted Trump’s “ignorant tirade” with a strong post on Facebook

You say “don’t let them roam our communities” like you have already created the fascist state you are hoping to turn this country into. This is America, Donald, and the Somali people of Minnesota and Minneapolis are not *roaming* our communities, they are *building* them.

Unfortunately though, Ms. Hodges strong words hide the fact that she supports the Obama Administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, which is based on the very same, very ugly, anti-Muslim prejudice that Trump’s ugly words betray.

CVE is federal program run out of the Department of Justice that supporters say is designed to find “extremists” before they “radicalize” and commit terrorist acts. The program is aimed at “vulnerable communities” where DOJ thinks (based on no evidence) that young people might be swayed by terrorist propaganda and become terrorists. In other words, communities where terrorism, extremism, and radicalism are invading schools and communities.

And guess which community in Minnesota is the “beneficiary” of a pilot CVE program?

Federal prosecutors in Minneapolis-St. Paul are leading the CVE program in the city, which is framed as “Building Community Resilience,” but which is in fact a surveillance and thought policing program based on Islamophobia and profiling of the Somali community.

The Obama Administration designated Minneapolis, Boston, and Los Angeles as the three CVE pilot cities, and the program is focused exclusively on the Muslim communities in those cities. In Minneapolis, the program brings law enforcement and prosecutors together with schools, health care, and social service providers to work in the Somali community to ferret out young people who might become terrorists by looking at indicators such as “disaffected youth” and “limited opportunities.” Not only are the indicators vague, and clearly applicable to a large number of young people (Somali or not), but they are based on absolutely no evidence.

Related: Psychologists Are Worried About CVE. Here’s Why.

The DOJ is working hard, and doling out lots of money, to give the CVE program a “community based” look. Many cash-starved non-profits working in the community have sought CVE grants to fund after-school programs and other initiatives to reach “disaffected youth.” The problem is that under CVE, those programs become securitized and put young people who participate in them at risk of being tagged as potential future terrorists.

The program is divisive within the community. While some groups are taking CVE money, nearly 50 Muslim and Somali organizations in Minnesota have spoken out in opposition.

By focusing on members of the Somali Muslim community as uniquely “vulnerable” to being recruited to be terrorists, the CVE program stigmatizes the community as effectively as Trump’s vicious rhetoric. And it is just as anti-Muslim.

Related: CVE Programs Want Teachers, Healthcare Workers, and Social Service Providers To Be Informants and Clinton and Trump Debate Civil Liberties

Find more resources about CVE in Minnesota at the CAIR-MN website. A chart of myths and facts is reproduced below.

Myths CVE Facts

CVE is actually “Building Community Resilience.”

 After the Muslim, Somali and allied communities rejected the CVE initiative, US Attorney Luger renamed the program “Building Community Resilience” in an effort to re-brand, making it more attractive to the community.

CVE will empower the Muslim

community to address issues of

radicalization and terror


Due to the stigmatizing and discriminatory focus on Muslims and Somalis, many key partners are avoiding CVE completely. Those who partner with CVE are seen as agents of law enforcement. CVE creates a stigma and further isolates these communities from each other and from the larger Minnesota community.

CVE will improve relations between

law enforcement, intelligence

agencies, and the Muslim


Local law enforcement agencies have shared their frustrations with CVE, clarifying that their efforts to build relationships with the community, are NOT part of the CVE program. Stigmatizing the community will not improve trust with law enforcement.

CVE is a community led effort. 50 Minnesota Muslim organizations have signed onto a statement that opposes CVE, citing concerns of civil rights violations and discrimination.

CVE is “community outreach,” not a

method of intelligence gathering.

Past “community outreach” efforts by the US attorney and the FBI have been found to include elements of intelligence gathering. See Community Outreach or Intelligence Gathering? A Closer Look at “Countering Violent Extremism” Programs.