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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

How Hawk Newsome went from high school dropout to BLM leader

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Hawk Newsome, the activist who threatened “bloodshed” after a sit-down with Mayor-elect Eric Adams earlier this week, is a rogue militant and failed politician who likes to wear a bullet-proof vest and chew on a fat cigar when he strolls through his Bronx neighborhood.

Newsome’s incendiary statements and criticisms of the national Black Lives Matter movement have earned him international headlines but also made him a pariah among leaders of the civil rights cause. And the IRS yanked his group’s charitable status for failing to file financial reports, The Post has learned.

On Wednesday, when Adams, a former NYPD captain, vowed to bring back the force’s controversial Anti-Crime Unit, which was disbanded after widespread anti-police protests last year, Newsome, 44, threatened total anarchy.

“There will be riots,” he said outside Borough Hall in Brooklyn after their closed door discussions. “There will be fire, and there will be bloodshed.”

Newsome followed up the threats with a social media post on Thursday while waiting for a flight at JFK Airport. “Mayor Elect Eric Adams want to Bring back the NYPD Anti-Crime unit that murdered SEAN BELL, AMADOU DIALLO, and ERIC GARNER,” Newsome said in the post to his 29,200 Instagram followers, referring to some New York City victims of police violence. “We can’t let that slide….You and I both know that we are up against an Evil and violent system.”

New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams meets with representatives from the Black Lives Matter organization Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Hawk Newsome met with NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

The imposing former paralegal for the Bronx DA who stands more than six-foot-six inches tall and weighs 250 pounds, now runs a political consulting company with his younger sister, Chivona Newsome. In 2016, the two also founded New York Black Lives Matter Inc, a charity which lists its address at the Bronx apartment they share with their mother, a former Black Panther. The non-profit had its charitable status revoked two years ago after it failed to file financial reports to the IRS over three consecutive years, public records show.

But the group continues to seek donations on its Web site, instructing visitors to donate through one-time payments or monthly sums using PayPal and credit or debit cards. The group sells sweatshirts with the “BLM NY” logo and “Donald Trump is a White Supremacist,” noting that buying them “is the best way to support our organization.”

One of the BLM hoodies that is for sale.
One of the BLM hoodies that is for sale.
BLM hoodie for sale
The merchandise that has a BLM NY logo on it.

Newsome, whose birth name is Walter, has never been a member of Black Lives Matter Global Network, the national arm of the movement, which has no time for his brand of self-styled leadership.

“Hawk Newsome has no relation to the Black Lives Matter Global Network … and is not ‘president’ of BLM or any of its chapters,” said Kailee Scales, a managing director of Black Lives Matter Global Network, in a statement on the group’s Web site last year.

Meanwhile, Newsome has railed against the Global Network’s leadership, blasting former co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors after The Post revealed in April that she went on a real-estate shopping spree, snagging four high-end homes in the US for $3.2 million.

Hawk Newsome arrested along with others at protest for George Floyd by blocking the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan.
Hawk Newsome arrested on May 25, 2021 for by blocking the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan.
G.N. Miller/NYPost

“If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes,” he told The Post. “It’s really sad because it makes people doubt the validity of the movement and overlook the fact that it’s the people that carry this movement.”

But the bad blood between BLM and Newsome stretches further back to 2017 when Newsome identified himself as a BLM leader and addressed a group of Donald Trump supporters in Washington, DC. Although the speech went viral, earning him national media attention and even praise, he was admonished by the leadership of the movement for addressing a rally of conservatives.

Newsome, a high school dropout who has spoken openly about his battles with alcoholism, domestic abuse and anger issues, managed to obtain his GED and attended Concordia College in Bronxville before completing his law degree at Touro College. He is the father of William, a teenager, who lives with him, and has a four-year-old daughter, Assata, who lives with her mother.

Newsome has threatened riots if Eric Adams brings stronger policing in NYC.
Newsome has threatened riots if Eric Adams brings stronger policing in NYC.
Matthew McDermott

“We don’t want white people coming in and raising our rents,” he told The Post last year about the neighborhood near Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. “You can’t be a supporter of black people if you come gentrify their neighborhood. Stay the f–k out of our community.”

Newsome has worked as a community organizer in the Bronx and ran for a City Council seat in the borough in 2013. He managed only three percent of the vote in the race, losing to Vanessa Gibson, the current City Council Member for the West Bronx. His sister lost her own bid for the 15th Congressional District seat in the 2020 primary.

After Newsome’s own loss at the polls, he changed his name to “Hawk” and began protesting against the police after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2013. He said that it was Garner’s July 2014 death, which led to NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo’s expulsion from the force, that compelled him to become a full-time activist.

Hawk Newsome, President of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York
In 2013, Newsome ran for City Council but fell in his bid.
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/Shut

“After his death, we marched,” he wrote in an opinion piece for USA TODAY in 2019. “When a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo, we marched. For the countless other black men and women who have died at the hands of police and have received no justice — mothers, fathers, sons, daughters — we have marched. We still march and still we see no justice.”

His rhetoric has grown increasingly incendiary. “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it,” said Newsome in a Fox News interview last year. “All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”

Newsome, who has referred to the US government as “terrorists,” managed to temporarily shut down the George Washington Bridge last year, rallying 100 demonstrators to protest police violence.

In a Post interview last year, Newsome spoke out against gentrifying in the Bronx.
In a Post interview last year, Newsome spoke out against gentrifying in the Bronx.
J.C. Rice

He calls himself a grassroots organizer, has railed against vaccine mandates (which he has labeled “racist),” and notes on his Web site that his organization “was the first group in NYC to endorse Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” 

Newsome did not return The Post’s calls Thursday.



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