The Message of the Siege on the US Capitol
Esmeralda Simmons, Esq.
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 Capital, and successfully halted, for a period, the tallying of the Electoral College votes and the declaration of the Biden-Harris election victory. January 5th, 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 the election was being stolen by radicals 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,” Qanon, and other right radical organizations were represented. They came from across the country – Ashli Babbitt, the rioter that was killed as the rioters tried to break into the Congressional Chamber, was an Air Force veteran from So. California; there was an attorney from Texas; and, Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a Brooklyn state court justice, was captured in a video within the Senate wing. While he was boasting of his participation, another rioter behind him was carrying a huge Confederate flag 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. As the rioters were physically breaking into the Capitol building, the Capitol Police practiced restraint: there was no massive police presence to protect the edifice or the legislators and their staff; no riot gear, no tear gas or rubber bullets; no bully clubs or plexiglass shields. Then, when the rioters were within the Capitol, the Capital police stood down or retreated. Contrast that to the teargassing and forceful dispersal tactics employed by the federal police force on the lawful, largely Black, 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 Ku Klux Klan (KKK) terror rides, lynchings, murders and house and cross burnings throughout the South, as well as in PA, DE, NJ, and NY. There were historically noted White riots, e.g., Bakersfield CA massacre; Boston riot; Tulsa riots; 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” motto appealed to a reestablishment of an older US social order where Whites were preferred and were advantaged socially and legally. Trump, Bannon, and many of his primary advisors adhered and espoused racist ideology and solutions. Entire swatches of the American populace were painted by Trump and his allies 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, Latinx, Blacks, 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 to be criminal rioters and looters and treated as such.
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. White folks were angry because slavery was abolished and their white privilege was denied, the Confederacy was defeated, hundreds of thousands of White men had died during the Civil War, and their wealth and plantation economy were debased. 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 for peanuts. Most importantly, Blacks did not vote! Whites legally reestablished 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 can 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 violent colonial 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 in this land. 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.