Creative Justice Initiative Statement on unprecedented Capitol Hill Riot
Be on the alert: “Angry White Mob Violence” has recommenced in the US.
The culture of racist violence was on display during the recent MAGA enthusiasts’ siege of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC.
These white privilege-protected, unlawful rioters stormed and desecrated the US Capitol and successfully halted, for a period, the rallying of the Electoral College votes and the declaration of the Biden-Harris election victory. January 6th, 2021, will stand in history as the day the racist corruption of US culture was on full display.
Two things were apparent by this heinous episode in history.
First, those who bank on their white privilege quickly turned to rage and white mob violence when they feared that their “way of life,” as symbolized by the Trump presidency, was threatened. They were incited by the President to come to DC that day, to take action by going to the Capitol ”to fight” and “be brave.“ He repeatedly told them that radicals were stealing the election, and they believed him. These folks believed him and came to DC to do battle, many with weapons. Indeed, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, guns, and other weapons were brought inside the Capitol. The demonstration was never peaceful; once they reached the Capitol, officers were overrun, windows and exterior doors were breached, interior doors were forced open, federal property was destroyed, and many items were taken as trophies (an entire podium??!). These Trump followers were believers, “Proud Boys,” Bannon, and other right radical organizations were represented. They came from across the country – Ashli Babbitt, the rioter, killed as the mob tried to break into the Congressional Chamber, was an Air Force veteran from So. California; there was an attorney from Texas; Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a Brooklyn state court justice, was captured in a video within the Senate wing, boasting his participation. Behind him, a huge Confederate flag was being carried down the hallway. Make no mistake; these now, domestic terrorists believed that they were doing what was right to save “their country.” They believe that they inherited this nation, and it belongs to them, before others.
Second, the police reaction to the large mob of unlawful White rioters was woefully inadequate. Then when the rioters were within the Capitol, the Capitol police stood down or retreated. As the rioters were physically breaking into the Capitol Building, the Capitol Police practiced restraint: there was no massive police presence to protect the Capitol Building, the federal legislators and their staff; no riot gear, no tear gas, or rubber bullets; no bully clubs or plexiglass shields.
Contrast that to the teargassing and forceful dispersal tactics employed by the federal police force on the lawful, largely Black, and peaceful BLACK LIVES MATTER demonstrators this summer in DC.
“Angry White Mob” violence has a deep history across this country. Historically, feelings of diminished societal status (white privilege) by some Whites fueled horrific violence on their part. The innumerable slaughterings of Native Americans, the Klu Klux Klan’s (KKK) terror rides, lynching, murders, and house and cross burnings throughout the South, and PA, DE, NJ, and NY. There were historically noted White riots, e.g., the Bakersfield CA massacre, the Boston riot; the Tulsa riots and massacre; and the New York Irish riot, to name just a few.
Five years ago, during Trump’s first campaign for the presidency, we witnessed his appeal to those who believed “their country” was no longer working for their benefit. The entire “Make America Great Again” appealed to the reestablishment of an older US social order where Whites were preferred and were advantaged socially and legally. Trump, Bannon, and many of his primary advisers adhered and espoused racist ideology and solutions. Trump and his allies painted entire swathes of the American populace as undesirable others: Latinos were rapists and “illegals;” Blacks were criminals; Asians were the enemy “Chinese” threat; Muslims were all terrorists. As soon as Trump was elected, he closed the borders to Muslims, Latin, Black, and Asians and allowed the immigration laws to favor educated Europeans. He spoke in favor of racist organizations and the Confederacy legacy. Violent racist demonstrators were “good people,” and BLM demonstrators were designated as criminal rioters and looters and treated as the same.
We have been here before in “America.” During the post Civil War Reconstruction period in the latter 19th Century, angry white mobs flourished in the South. Many white folks were angry when slavery was abolished. Their white privilege was denied, the Confederacy was defeated, hundreds of thousands of White men died during the Civil War, and their wealth and plantation economy was debated. In other words, their way of life, symbolized by the Confederate flag, was defeated and destroyed. But, they fought back — the angry white mobs soon organized into the KKK and other domestic terrorist groups. They lynched or burned out any folks who opposed a return to the old days and former social order— the society where white supremacy was the order and Blacks worked for free or peanuts. Most importantly, Blacks did not vote! They legally re-established the old social order by enacting a huge set of Jim Crow strict segregation laws, felony criminal codes, chain gang free labor, deed fraud, a sharecropping agricultural system, and a host of social prohibitions, like racially-mixed marriages.
The erection of a noose on the Capitol grounds during the siege was a clear signal to those who read US racial history script. It signals a white racist’s warning to “Get Back” and stay in your place or face the violent consequences.
To the angry white mobs, their instigators and supporters, and those who want a Race War, heed our response — “We Will Not Be Moved!” “Forward Ever, Backwards Never!”
We who believe in freedom will push this nation forward until it lives up to its creeds and constitutional tenets. This land was stolen from the indigenous people and built on the backs of our forebears. The myth of White supremacy and its progeny, white privilege, are denounced and will be eliminated.
White mob violence is recognized for what it truly is – domestic terrorism, as perfected by the genocide of the Native Inhabitants, the US slavery system, and US colonial violent oppression, the oldest forms of terrorism in this nation.
To the angry white mob, recognize that you cannot kill all of us. And yes, there are more of us than you.
Remember the words of the prophet “None of us are free until all of us are free.” Let’s tend to the unfinished business of freedom in this nation. There is plenty of work for all hands.
Esmeralda Simmons, Esq.,
Creative Justice Initiative