Unrest at the Capitol and America’s History of Violence
Rioting. Looting. Broken glass. Disrespect to the media and cops. It wasn’t Black Lives Matters protesters or anarchists. This was the scene at and in the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. MAGA protesters stormed the capitol and walked right in. One Maga supporter walked in the Chambers and announced Trump won the election! Another rioter went to Nancy Pelosi’s office and put his feet on her desk to declare the same.
The capitol was taken over by a predominantly white mob. They made it look simple. There was very little resistance from Capitol cops. Were Capitol Cops not in fear for their lives? Did they not see weapons being wielded? Windows were shattered so there could be easy entrance by MAGA Patriots. Somehow they were able to enter without harm.
The Breach on Capitol Hill was extremely alarming to watch. However, for many to watch how little was done to stop this angry mob was disgraceful.
In 2013, 26 bullets ripped the body of a black woman, Miriam Carey. She made a u-turn near the White House and was killed by Capitol cops. How is it that one woman was slain in such a manner? So quickly. No time lapses. No grace given. No hesitation. But while America watches the siege take place we see law enforcement running away from Maga supporters.
African Americans that watched these events unfold could not help but think that if these protesters had been African American they would have been murdered like Miriam Carey or so many others. What also comes to mind is the rhetoric that Trump used in July 2020: “Anarchists, Agitators, or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland or in any of our federal buildings or in any of our cities or states, will be prosecuted under our recently reenacted Statues and Monuments Act. Minimum 10 years in prison. Don’t do it!” He made this statement on the heels of the George Floyd rebellions. He also told Governors to get “much tougher” and to “dominate” them. He went on to say that protesters need to be arrested and tracked.
Yesterday on January 6th 2021, the same President who called for Black Lives Matter protesters to be jailed showed and verbalized his deep love for MAGA savages. Capitol Cops also added to this hypocrisy with passive and delayed action while rioters bolted through doors and windows. This has never been the case for African Americans.
One thing that has been consistent since the foundation of the United States is that there is a clear doubled-standard where African Americans are concerned. After all, the United States was founded by slave owners who wanted freedom from British rule. This irony was not lost on loyalists such as Samuel Johnson who asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” The hypocrisy runs even deeper. White people were so determined to secure their freedom from British rule that they resorted to destructive rioting (the Boston Tea Party) and engaging in outright war.
Violence is at the core of America’s very foundation. It was violence which was used to steal land from the indigenous people. It was violence which was used to enslave African people. It was also violence which was used to secure America’s independence from England. After America became independent, this violence continued. America would continue its brutal theft of indigenous land and the brutal treatment of African Americans. America’s wars also continued.
The display which took place on January 6th was shocking to many who believe that America is better than this, but the reality is that America never has been. America’s history is a history of violence and aggression. This is something that African Americans know all too well. Those of us who come from nations which have been impacted by American foreign policy also understand this reality all too well.
Robin Denise Harris is a social justice activist, writer, poet, public speaker, Tour guide and history enthusiast. Texas Native, Robin currently lives in Florida where she is fights alongside other activists. She is also Co Chair of the National Black Caucus of the Green Party.
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.