A petition urging the US government to recognise Black Lives Matter as an official terrorist group has now gathered more than 85,000 signatures. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures by 5 August, the White House will consider the request and formally respond to the demands made.

The calls to have BLM registered as a terrorist organisation gained momentum as five police officers were shot dead by snipers during a BLM protest in Dallas on 7 July. One of the gunmen, Micah Johnson, died during a standoff after police detonated a bomb with a robot.

The creator of the petition, identified only as Y.S., wrote: "Terrorism is defined as 'the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims'. This definition is the same definition used to declare Isis and other groups as terrorist organisations. Black Lives Matter has earned this title due to its actions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and even at a Bernie Sanders rally."

The petition does not elaborate further on the actions of the BLM campaign, however, it urges the Pentagon to classify the group in the same category as the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist organsiation. According to petitioners, this needs to be done "on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality and safety".

On the day of the Dallas shootings, the petition had already reached 4,000 signatures as people expressed shock over the police officers who lost their lives. However, over the weekend thousands more appear to have rallied behind the calls and the petition remains less than 15,000 signatures away from being acknowledged by the US government.

A number of public figures have also joined in the debate, with controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh echoing the petition's sentiments. Speaking on his show, Limbaugh claimed that BLM are starting a "war on cops" across the United States, adding that President Barack Obama had "embraced the Black Lives Matter myth that there is a racist war by white officers against black civilians".

He said: "[BLM] are a terrorist group. They're quickly becoming a terrorist group committing hate crimes."

US shooting protests
People take part in a protest for the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march along Manhattan's streets in New York Eduardo Munoz/ Reuters

Meanwhile, TheBlaze news host Tomi Lahred took to Twitter to call BLM "the new KKK", prompting instant backlash from across the globe. Nearly 50,000 people have now signed a petition urging TheBlaze to fire the 23-year-old from the news organisation.

The BLM protest in Dallas was sparked by the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by police in Minnesota and Louisiana. Castile was shot by a police officer in Falcon Heights on 6 July during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting as her boyfriend bled to death in the driver's seat. Sterling, 37, died from gunshot wounds to the chest and back one day earlier after being apprehended by police in the state's capital Baton Rouge.

There were more than 1,000 fatal shootings by the police in the US last year, with black men killed in disproportionate numbers. Many have taken to Twitter to hit back at those who signed the anti-BLM petition.