FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Northern Michigan E3 Statement Regarding Today’s Riots at the Nation’s Capitol.
Today, America watched as hundreds of rioters, inspired by the words of President Trump himself at a nearby rally that “we had an election that was stolen,” stormed the U.S. Capitol building, breaking windows, vandalizing the offices of Congress and the Senate, and stealing tokens of their terrorism. The Cabinet, members of the Congress and Senate and their staff, had to be removed from the Capitol during the electoral vote count. One woman was shot and killed, and many more injured during the riot. What has historically been a peaceful transfer of power eroded into a MAGA-hat tipped matchbox of terrorism deep within the corridors of power in Washington.
Our members of the E3 BIPOC and antiracist white community watched in horror turned anger, as the largely white mob was not only inspired by the President to go to the Capitol to disrupt the democratic process, but hardly rebuked by Capitol police when they arrived and began destroying Capitol property. Trump’s supporters were not subject to rubber bullets, mace, or tear gas upon approaching the Capitol. When they breached the walls, doors, and began breaking windows, no one was shot or forcibly detained by law enforcement. When they entered the offices of top-level politicians and the Senate floor, no tear gas was used to clear them out. In fact, one member of the Capitol police allowed the terrorists to take a selfie with him as they stood next to one another. The President, after condoning the actions of the rioters eventually told them to leave with words of encouragement, “We love you. You’re very special.” In the end, only 15 arrests were made.
The irony of this moment is not lost on any member of our BIPOC community. We know for certain if those “protestors” had been us, we would be subject to many different forms of crowd dispersal and compliance at the hands of law enforcement. In fact, it is likely that many of us would have been shot or killed. We have past and recent history to prove that. The lack of accountability and encouragement for these terrorist actions by the highest office in our country reminds us once again that we live in a system of White Supremacy. The values of equality, fairness and justice - as afforded by our Constitution - are still not applied to all and especially not if you are BIPOC.
Immediately and inevitably, we are told by white community members and sometimes family, “at least they acted more peacefully than the Black Lives Matter protestors.” Comparisons are made to the BLM protests, in an attempt to somehow justify the actions of today’s terrorism. There is no rightful comparison. BLM protestors, like many other BIPOC protestors before them, acted out of the rage, anger, and fear that comes with years of systematic oppression and police brutality so bad we have to teach our children to live in fear of law enforcement and our white neighbors. Today’s terrorists were supporters of a political candidate that lost his election, rioting because they falsely believe that their election was “stolen.” In simple terms, they are rioting because they are sore losers. And yet the effect on the BIPOC community is one of continued traumatization from their selfies of “see what I can do…” and parading antics of white privilege as well as continued threats of violence wherever they go.
Northern MI E3 condemns today’s terroristic violence and the lack of accountability that has enabled it. We recognize the death of a woman, shot during the riot at the Capitol, as needless and tragic. We see the enormous breach of integrity and safety within the Nation’s most powerful offices. We recognize and hold up that the traumatic injury that white Americans carry due to colonization remains unhealed and unresolved, and is at the root of the violence that took place today.
We are not deterred. We stand firm in our belief that all people are equal, regardless of their race, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, culture, ability, age or religion. We will continue to reach out to those members of our communities that carry the injuries of colonialism for “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (Martin Luther King, Jr.). We will continue to Educate, Elevate and Engage on matters of bias, racism, and diversity because we love our community and want to move forward in healing and compassion. Recognition of oppression and accountability are necessary components of healing as a society in order to move past the traumatic events that we have all encountered in our history. We have to keep moving forward, for all of our children.
“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” ~ Marian Anderson
Educate. Elevate. Engage. Let’s do this.