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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

‘Hate in the Eyes’: How Racist Rage Animated the January 6 Riots

by Farnosh Amiri

WASHINGTON (AP) — Representative Corey Bush is no stranger to protests. He spent many years marching through the streets of St. Louis and Ferguson, Missouri, reaching public office through the strength of his activism.

But as the Missouri Democrat looked out the window of the Capitol on January 6, 2021—only her third day as a member of Congress—she knew what was about to happen would be no peaceful protest. Confederate flags in the crowd, and the makeshift noose and gallows on Capitol grounds, speak of a more frightening reality.

“I’ve been to hundreds of protests and organized so many protests, I can’t count. I know what a protest is: It’s not that,” Bush, who is Black, recently told the Associated Press. Said in an interview with.

The revolt by pro-Trump supporters and members of far-right groups shattered the sense of security many had long felt in the Capitol as rioters forcibly delayed certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory .

But for people of color, including many in Congress, the attack was more than a violent challenge to a free and fair election—it was a familiar display of white supremacist violence, this time in the seat of American democracy.

“First of all, as a black woman, it is already difficult on a level that is different from what a white man experiences,” Bush said of the imagery and rhetoric surrounding the attack, particularly the Confederate flag. inside the capitol who was taken away by a rioter. “But it is especially different for black people because of our history. This country has a history of the kind of language and imagery directed at us in a very negative and at times violent way.

While Bush managed to escape the barricades at the Capitol and his office in a nearby building with his staff, dozens of police officers faced violent crowds. More than 100 officers were injured, some seriously.

A group of officials testified to Congress in July about physical and verbal abuse from supporters of former President Donald Trump. One black official, Harry Dunn, recalled an exchange he had with rioters who disputed that Biden had defeated Trump.

When Dunn said he had voted for Biden and that his votes should be counted, the crowd began hurling racial slurs at him.

“A woman in a pink MAGA (Make America Great Again) shirt shouted, ‘You hear that guys, this n– voted for Joe Biden!” Dunn, who has served more than a dozen years in the Capitol Police Force.

“Then the crowd, probably about 20 people, joined in shouting, ‘Boo! F—-ing n—-!'” he testified. He added that no one said the n-word to him while in uniform.

Later that night, Dunn said, he sat in the Capitol Rotunda and cried.

Meanwhile, as the attack broke out in the Capitol, a handful of lawmakers remained trapped in the galleries of the House and Senate and no one survived as rioters fought to break in.

Ashley Babbitt, one of the rioters who was killed after a gunshot and attempted to leap through a broken window, into the House Chamber, Democratic Rep. Jason Crowe of Colorado decided that the best thing members could do was remove the Congressional PIN that identifies themselves. as MPs.

But for MPs of color like Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash, removing the PIN was not an option.

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“I thought there was no way to remove my PIN. Because it is either you are recognized by the rebel or you are not recognized by the Capitol Police as a brown woman or a black woman,” Jayapal told the AP in December Told.

She continued: “And so many members of color I know didn’t take out their pins.”

Rep. Benny Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Jan. 6 investigative panel and among those trapped in the gallery, said the day was an “unpleasant experience” especially from his early days as a black politician in Mississippi. brought back.

“I saw that kind of hatred in the eyes of those who ransacked the Capitol. It was the same kind of hatred I saw in people who wanted to stop people of color from voting for the candidate of their choice in Mississippi,” Thompson said.

After the attack, Crowe and other white lawmakers spoke about the experiences of their colleagues of color that day. Crowe, his Democratic ally, Rep. Val Demings, a black former Orlando police chief who was also trapped in the gallery, said he didn’t realize at the time how difficult it would be for members of color to disguise themselves from the crowd.

“Jason shared with me after all that for him – these are his words – as a white male he could take off his pin, or he could keep his pin and run to the other side with the Republicans and One can stand there and people may not know the difference,” Demings said.

Representative Jim Himes, D-Conn., also reflected on his ability to blend in more easily.

“I think to myself, Well, if I need to, I can unbutton my shirt, I can throw on my jacket. I’m a white man,” said Himes. “There’s actually a reasonable possibility that I get through this crowd, don’t I? In retrospect, I considered the fact that this was not true for Ilhan Omar,” he said, referring to Minnesota’s Black Democrats.

Crowe himself called that day’s conversation a “learning moment”.

“It wasn’t until the day I was on the receiving end of the violence of white supremacy in my country that I understood,” he said.

The attack eventually came to an end and the Capitol was secured. The rioters were allowed to leave the premises peacefully and the MPs who had stayed to complete the verification of the election went home. Images surfaced online and on television showed Capitol watchmen, most of them people of color, cleaning broken glass and scrubbing walls.

Rep. Andy Kim, DNJ, joined them, getting up on their hands and knees to collect water bottles, clothes, Trump flags and American flags. The son of Korean immigrants and, in 2018, the first Asian American to represent New Jersey in Congress, Kim reflected at the time how he, a man of color, was cleaning up after people who used white supremacists like the Confederate flag. The symbols were waved. mayhem

While he didn’t consider race at the time, Kim told the AP shortly after the attack, “It’s so hard because we don’t see each other and see each other as Americans first.”


Associated Press writer Marie Claire Jalonik contributed to this report.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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