Fact Check: Did a Black Lives Matter Leader Bomb the U.S. Capitol in 1983?

Congressional impeachment managers continue their arguments Wednesday in the trial of former President Donald Trump on the basis that he incited an insurrection, leaving some Republicans eager to highlight instances of violence by the left.

One alleged instance circulating on social media is the 1983 bombing of the Capitol building by a woman whom right-wing allies are saying is now a leader of a Black Lives Matter organization.

The Claim

Joel W. Berry, managing editor for the conservative satire website The Babylon Bee, posted a meme stating that Susan Rosenberg, who is identified as the "head" of the "Black Lives Matter Global Network," participated in a 1983 bombing of the U.S. Capitol Building. The meme says that she served only 16 years of a 58-year sentence for the crime.

"I had to check this because it seemed too wild-- but it's TRUE. A Left-wing terrorist who bombed the Capitol Building was pardoned by Clinton and now fundraises for BLM," Berry said and provided a meme.

I had to check this because it seemed too wild-- but it's TRUE. A Left-wing terrorist who bombed the Capitol Building was pardoned by Clinton and now fundraises for BLM. pic.twitter.com/5KIF4Z50SB

— Joel Berry (@JoelWBerry) January 13, 2021

The Facts

The 1960s, '70s and early '80s gave rise to a number of organizations aligned with the Black Power Movement and Marxist-Leninism, including a female-led group known as the May 19th Communist Organization (M19CO).

Founded in 1978, M19CO first gained national attention when it took two guards hostage at the Clinton (now Edna Mahan) Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township (Hunterdon), New Jersey, and in the process freed Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Liberation Army.

Skakur's birth name is JoAnne Chesimard, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, who was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.

But M19CO perhaps is most recognized for its participation in a plot to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

Late in the evening of Nov. 7, 1983, members of M19CO called the U.S. Capitol Switchboard and advised evacuation of the building prior to setting off an explosion in the Capitol's North Wing. No one was harmed by the detonation, which was in protest of the U.S. decision to invade socialist Grenada, but about $1 million of damage was caused, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

During the following 20-month span, M19CO continued a pattern of resistance bombings at the Israel Aircraft Industries building, the South African Consulate in New York City, Fort McNair in Washington and the Washington Navy Yard. Each time, the group called ahead to clear the area.

One of the members involved in these attacks was Rosenberg, who was arrested by the FBI in 1984 and charged with possession of explosives. She was convicted and sentenced to 58 years in prison but served only 16 after being pardoned by President Bill Clinton on his final day in office.

While in prison, Rosenberg became a writer and activist, taking on multiple leadership roles in the nonprofit sector and academia after her sentence. Today, she is the vice chair of the board of directors of Thousand Currents, which performed fundraising and administrative work for the Black Lives Matter Global Network Project for several years.

The Ruling

Partially True.

Susan Rosenberg, formerly a member of a left-wing terrorist group known as M19CO, did participate in the bombing of the U.S. Capitol's North Wing in 1983, for which she served a 16-year sentence. But she is not the head of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.

Rosenberg is on the board of directors for a nonprofit that sponsored the BLM Global Network Project from 2016 to 2020. While Berry acknowledged that in the context he provides, the meme he shared is misleading.

Capitol riot trump impeachment evidence
New evidence presented at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial could be harmful to the criminal cases against rioters. Here, Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty