Editor’s note: In our newsletter, The California Justice Report, in addition to giving you a compilation of the best of WitnessLA’s latest stories, we also call your attention to other important stories from around the state and the nation on issues of justice and injustice.
In the past few days, however, events have been moving quickly regarding the devastating actions of the Trump-encouraged insurrectionist mob, and the participants who smashed their way into the nation’s Capital building with the reported intention of doing violence to Vice President Pence and members of Congress. Thus we decided not to wait to bring you some of our picks selected from the most critical writing and reporting about what occurred on January 6, 2021, as that news continues to unfold.
We will update the compilation below as we find other stories that we don’t want you to miss.
So stay tuned.
What it was like for Black Capitol Police officers who fought off well-prepared “Racist-ass terrorists” inside the Capitol Bldg.
In a must read story, BuzzFeed news reporter Emmanuel Felton described the experiences of Black Capitol Police officers who explain how their superiors told the troops nothing about the seriousness of what was expected on January 6. Instead, said one of the officers, those in charge characterized the event as “some kind of free speech protest.”
The same officer began to suspect the faulty nature of what upper management was saying when a friend sent him screenshot of an Instagram post by a member of the Proud Boys announcing what that particular group had in mind.
“We’re breaching the Capitol today, guys,” the post reportedly read. “I hope y’all ready.”
The post the officer read turned out to be one of many by the Proud Boys and others, that presaged what would happen.
The officers Felton spoke with described the experience of their colleague, who is the black officer pictured in a harrowing video by Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic (see below), which has been seen widely, showing the officer, with no back-up, trying to deal with the rioters who had just broken in and were hunting for certain members of Congress, reportedly with ill intent. With remarkable heroism the officer managed to draw the vigilantes the wrong direction, away from the Senate.
Here’s the scary moment when protesters initially got into the building from the first floor and made their way outside Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/CfVIBsgywK
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
His officer/sources also told Felton that many of the images that the media initially focused on depicting absurdly-dressed Trump supporters wandering the halls of the Capital, had the effect of downplaying how well prepared some of the rioters were to overtake the building, and even, according to the police officers, to capture and kill Congress members.
“That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us,” said one officer, who, Felton wrote has been with the department for more than a decade. “They had radios…they had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flash bangs … They were prepared.”
Felton writes of one veteran officer who, once most of the terrorists were gone, sat down with his buddy, also a Black officer, in the Rotunda, after having being repeatedly called the “the N word,” during the day. Now the officer found himself with tears running down his face.
“What the fuck, man?” he said, describing his words that night. “Is this America? What the fuck just happened? I’m so sick and tired of this shit.”
Then finally. “These are racist-ass terrorists!”
There’s much, much more to Felton’s excellent and necessary story on the topic.
“The fantasy that the race-hating party of Trump is also the party of law and order is blown apart on Capitol Hill,” wrote David Simon, writer/producer, of The Wire, Tréme, after reading Felton’s story. “Blue lives are expendable as everyone is expendable” when political power requires it.
Blue Lives Harmed
In addition to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a second officer who was on duty during the violent insurrection has now died, in this case by suicide. Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, who had been with the department for more than 15 years, and was assigned to the Senate Division, was praised and mourned by many when the news of his death broke.
Officer Sicknick was injured when he engaged physically with rioters, who reportedly battered him with a fire extinguisher on Wednesday, January 6. Sicknick, like Liebengood, was a well-liked officer. He died later the same day.
According to a New York Times story released Monday night, at least three different police officers guarding the Capitol were dragged down the building’s steps by the violent pro-Trump mob. The violence injured 50 officers, 15 of them seriously enough to require hospitalization.
(We recommend that you click through to the NYT story, even if only for the photos that tell a more disturbing story than words are able to convey.)
But that’s not at all the whole of officer injuries. It seems that a large number of the Capitol Police officers on duty on Wednesday, January 6, have been suffering emotionally.
According to CBS producer Michael Kaplan, US Capital Police has been called out to “‘a couple of incidents’ of officers threatening to harm themselves in the wake of the attack on Capitol Hill,” including a woman This included a woman officer who turned in her work weapon because she was worried she would use it.
Here’s what Kaplan tweeted this morning.
A source told @CBSNews the dept. is "demoralized".
"There’s tremendous moral injury, a sense of failure weighing them down. They went home to family and were asked how did this happen. And it’s very easy for those officers to interpret that as ‘how could you let this happen?’”
— Michael Kaplan (@mkaplantv) January 11, 2021
Invasion of the Capitol Was Planned for Weeks in advance by Proud Boys and other violent groups identified at capital riot
A ProPublica-FRONTLINE team that has been tracking far-right movements for the past three years was able to determine before most reporters that the terrorists of January 6 who smashed into the capitol building looking for members of Congress, included members of the Proud Boys “and other groups with violent ideologies,” according to a jointly-produced and well researched story by A.C. Thompson and Ford Fischer.
Among other things the videos they searched revealed, they wrote, was “the presence of several noted hardcore nativists and white nationalists who participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
The leader of one group, took to the popular (and recently shut down) social media outlet, Parler, to say that the Proud Boys were planning to show up armed in Washington for Inauguration Day. Other Parler posts indicated there was more to come.
“Many of us will return on January 19, 2021 carrying Our weapons,” wrote a Parler user, who goes by the handle Colonel007. “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”
The Proud Boys also celebrated after the fact on social media. Last Wednesday evening, a Proud Boys leader reportedly posted a photo on Parler of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement, “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.”
On Monday morning a related report from AP added its own research to the growing picture indicating who was among the insurrectionist mob — which the AP reporters describe as being “overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, members of the military,” and the like, many of whom “had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy.”
The story by the AP team, made up of reporters Michael Beisecker, Michael Kunzelman, Gilian Flaccus, and Jim Mustian, describes how, as the mob “smashed through doors and windows to invade the Capitol, a loud chant went up calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, the recent target of a Trump Twitter tirade for not subverting the Constitution and overturning the legitimate vote tally.”
The AP reporters also talked to family members of the now reportedly at least 90 individuals who have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations “to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
Among those arrested on federal charges is Georgia man, Cleveland Gover Meredith Jr., who reportedly arrived at the “Save America” assault on the Capitol late, according to a series of text interactions that are part of the court filing in Mr. Meredith’s case, write the AP journalists.
Here is on representative sample cited by the reporters:
“Headed to DC with a (s—-) ton of 5.56 armor-piercing ammo,” he texted friends and relatives on Jan. 6, adding a purple devil emoji, according to court filings. The following day, he texted to the group: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi (C——’s) speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.” He once again added a purple devil emoji, and wrote he might hit her with his truck instead. “I’m gonna run that (C—-) Pelosi over while she chews on her gums. … Dead (B——) Walking. I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die.”
Meanwhile, Samantha Michaels, of Mother Jones, reports that the “Storm the Capitol” was used 100,000 times online in the month before January 6. And last Monday, she reports, “more than half of the top posts on a pro-Trump forum called TheDonald.win included calls for violence.” And there’s more after that.
Two Track Justice
From the beginning, for many of those watching the events that occurred on January 6, in our nation’s capital, in real time, there was one disturbing conclusion that was inarguable. If this had been another kind of mass gathering, say a large but a peaceful protest for Black Lives Matters, the number of law enforcement officers and they way they related to the protesters, would have been in a whole other universe than what Americans saw on Wednesday as a violent mob breached the capital building, some of whom reportedly intended to do physical harm to Vice President Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and others.
We have seen caste in action with our very eyes.
— Isabel Wilkerson (@Isabelwilkerson) January 6, 2021
As the siege was in progress, Isabel Wilkerson — the Pulitzer-winning author of the best selling Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, who traveled all over the world to research her book, which describes how the system of “caste” is permanently embedded in the foundation and unseen structural beams of America — found herself stunned, even given all she knew, by what she was watching on the afternoon and evening of January 3, 2020.
“We have seen Caste in action with our very own eyes,” she tweeted.
Hers was one of a storm of similar tweets by people who saw the same thing playing across their own screens.
Two days later, Cori Bush, a Democrat who represents Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in the House, wrote a searing personal take for the Washington Post base on her observations. Is is titled, This is the America that Black people know.
Many have said that what transpired on Wednesday was not America. They are wrong. This is the America that Black people know.
My latest op-ed:https://t.co/ga2Ja7s4G2
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 10, 2021
Here is how it opens.
“My skin burned for 22 hours after I was pepper-sprayed. The memory of that burn stung with a new kind of pain on Wednesday as I, now a newly sworn-in member of Congress, watched in horror and disbelief as an insurrectionist mob overran the Capitol.
Back in July, we had been protesting at the police station in Florissant, Mo., where a police officer had recently run over a Black man with his car. The police had been beating protesters for weeks. They tear-gassed us to the point of suffocation for painting “Black Lives Matter” on a road, arrested us for putting our fists in the air and beat those who they’d taken into custody.
That night was no different from any other night. The officers rushed out of the station in riot gear, slapping their batons against their shields, holding shotguns loaded with rubber bullets and chanting commands. They chased us into the middle of the street, forcing us to backpedal blindly in the dark. The police were pushing with such force that people began falling to the ground all around me, finding themselves swarmed by officers who began hitting them with batons. I reached in to try to pull a woman away to safety.
And then, as a new Congress member, after she was rushed off the floor to her office, by a staffer, seconds before rioters broke into the Senate chamber, in watching events unfold on a TV screen after the office door was secured, she had a very different experience, as she saw Trump flags and Confederate flags “gradually moving closer.”
Read the rest It’s important and very well written.
Watch this space