— Ammon Bundy (@Ammon_Bundy) January 3, 2016
Ask yourself: Do you know what the Bureau of Land Management is and/or does? It's perfectly fine if you don't, especially if you aren't a ranger, farmer, or hunting enthusiast living in the Western United States. According to its website, the Bureau is a governmental agency tasked with "sustain[ing] the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations."
In plain English: it's a part of the Department of the Interior that oversees the use of public land for things like livestock grazing, the leasing of coal mine land, and putting out fires that people occasionally set to cover up illegal hunting.
While the land that the Bureau maintains is technically public land, the agency does what a handful of men with guns cannot: it protects some 700 million acres of valuable land from being endangered.
Though Bundy refers to #BlackLivesMatter as "that other movement that uses #BLM," what he fails to realize is that #BlackLivesMatter is the movement using that particular hashtag. He and his fellow gun-rights activists are merely tone-deaf hangers-on.
As different as Bundy's band of armed militants are from activists marching under the #BlackLivesMatter rallying cry, the two movements are fundamentally similar in that they're protestors. Where #BlackLivesMatter protestors are routinely denigrated and made out to be gangs of unruly, angry people of color, Bundy's protestors are men who've expressed their willingness to kill for their cause.
When Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, and Patrisse Cullors co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2013, the three women created a way for people to quickly share their thoughts and feelings about the modern civil rights struggle against racially-driven police brutality.
“Beyond just our walls, we need this to actually be very public," Tometi recalled telling the other two, who would become her co-founders to The Huffington Post. "We need to have other people interact with this message and also share the work that they're doing to ensure black lives matter."
Though referring to the Bureau of Land Management as the BLM does technically outdate its usage as reference to Black Lives Matter, you can't deny that the iconic hashtag's meaning has changed since its popularization.
Nearly three years later, the phrase (which began as three single words in a Facebook post) has morphed into a platform and rallying cry used by activists groups across the country in the protest of murders of black men, women, and children at the hands of police.
From Bundy's perspective, #BlackLivesMatter may just be a new-fangled social justice project whipped up on a media platform that he's only been on for about a day. What he fails to realize is that social media has been one of the most powerful tools at the modern Civil Rights Movement's disposal and he's in no position to dismiss that fact.
Much in the same way that #AllLivesMatter is a racist dismissal of the pain and struggle that black people are enduring, arguing that #BLM should be interpreted as a man's beef with the Department of Interior is offensive.
Bundy isn't the first person to try to steal a hashtag's thunder for his own personal gains. ISIS does it, Gamergaters do it, and out-of-touch brands do it all the time. When Bundy tweets using #BLM, he's not only co-opting the legitimate momentum and goodwill built up around #BlackLivesMatter, he's attempting to elevate his own cause above a movement that has put in the time and work to create positive change in the world.
Bundy may have the constitutional right to use #BLM, but he certainly hasn't earned the right to. He knows that and so should you.