Wilmington, NC

The Republican Party's Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

Marlon Weems

The assault on the US Capital is an event many years in the making

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

On January 6, 2020, an insurgent mob attacked the United States Capitol to overturn the Presidential election results and, in effect, overthrow the nation’s government.

As a joint session of Congress moved to certify President-elect Biden’s election win, a swarm of right-wing, pro-Trump insurgents breached U.S. Capitol for the first time since the British attacked and set fire to it during the war of 1812.

The counting of electoral ballots, usually a mundane event, is one of the rare occasions — such as the State of the Union — where a large portion of the country’s line of succession is in one place.

In this case, only President Trump and the Supreme Court were absent from the gathering, which raises questions regarding the lack of adequate security. Authorities confiscated two pipe bombs  —  one located at DNC headquarters, the other at the RNC headquarters.

According to the Washington Post, there were dozens of arrests:

“In D.C. Superior Court, 40 defendants were charged with unlawful entry of public property and were notified that prosecutors are reviewing evidence of an additional charge of curfew violation. Most of the defendants came from outside of the Washington region — including Oregon, Florida, Wyoming, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania — though some were from the District, Maryland, and Virginia. One person arrested was charged with possessing a “military-style automatic weapon” and 11 Molotov cocktails, prosecutors said. Another defendant was charged with assaulting a police officer with a hockey stick. Yet another, who needed a Russian interpreter, told a judge, “I don’t know what unlawful entry you are referring to.”

Cable news viewers watched in horror as Trump-supporting anarchists, incited by President Trump, roaming through the Senate chambers, trashing one of the country’s most sacred areas.

Approximately sixty Capitol Police officers were injured, fifteen hospitalized with one in critical condition. In the aftermath of the attack, five people died, including a member of the Capitol Police, a female veteran shot by police, and three rioters due to ‘medical emergencies.’

Despite the wreckage, a majority of the House Republican caucus voted, in effect to set aside the results of the Electoral College vote. Several Republican senators chose to continue their baseless effort to block the Biden-Harris confirmation.

Beyond the shock of domestic terrorists scaling the walls of our nation’s Capitol, parading through its halls with Confederate flags, the surreal scene underscored the disparity between the treatment of the attack’s mostly white insurgents compared to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protesters.

Unlike the BLM protests at Lafayette Park, when paramilitary troops, police on horseback, and low-flying helicopters violently corralled the peaceful, mostly minority crowd, the thousands of MAGA protesters faced almost no police presence.

Instead, Capitol Police allowed the conglomeration of QAnon conspiracy theorists, interspersed with white nationalist-linked Proud Boys, and Nazi sympathizers to freely roam the halls of Congress — some even posing for selfies with Capitol Police.

Noticeably absent were the armored personnel carriers, the mass arrests seen during this summer’s BLM protests. Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Patrisse Cullors, was unsurprised by the contrasting treatment of pro-Trump protesters:

“Whenever there is a Black Lives Matter protest, many of the people leading that protest are called by the police ahead of time. They have already created a full-on tactical unit to respond to us and that’s for people who come with bullhorns and wearing face masks. These people [in D.C.] had actual weapons. They had bombs. They came nearly with pitchforks and there were only pats on the back and gently removing them from the sidewalk. One of the men, the one who went into Nancy Pelosi’s office — this is hearsay at this point — said the police got tired and gave up and asked them to go politely. For years, Black people, especially Black organizers, have talked about the difference in treatment between Black protestors and white protestors. Yesterday, we witnessed that as a country and as a world.”

MSNBC’s Joy Reid explained the inequality in American policing this way:

“I guarantee you if that was a Black Lives Matter protest in D.C., there would already be people shackled, arrested, or dead,” said Reid. “Shackled, arrested en masse or dead…white Americans aren’t afraid of the cops. The reason they could easily and casually — with their cameras on — film themselves throwing things through the walls of our Capitol, our property, going inside the Capitol, sitting in Speaker Pelosi’s office, casually taking pictures of themselves, have that played on Fox News…they know that they are not in jeopardy. Because the cops are taking selfies with them, walking them down the steps to make sure they’re not hurt, taking care with their bodies...They own the president. They own the White House. They own this country. And so when you think you own it, you own the place, you ain’t afraid of the police. The police are you, and the police reflect back to that. ‘We’re with you. You’re good. We’re not gonna hurt you because you’re not them.’”

As awful as this week’s coup attempt seems, that it occurred should surprise no one. Aside from the fact that the president telegraphed the event for weeks in advance, American history is littered with attempted coups and insurrections.

This week’s insurrection bears striking similarities to the Wilmington coup of 1898, a mass riot and insurrection by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina. Initially described by Wilmington’s white press as a race riot caused by Blacks, the massacre is now seen as a successful coup d’état — the violent overthrow of a duly elected government by a group of white supremacists.

In 1933, a group of right-wing, pro-fascist conspirators partnered with Wall Street bankers in an attempt to overthrow the new Franklin D. Roosevelt administration — offering a retired military hero $500,000 to raise a militia. The perpetrators were among the country’s titans of the day. The attempted coup, known as The Business Plot, was an alleged conspiracy to replace the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration with a fascist government.

With this week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol, it is more apparent than ever that the Republican Party has devolved into a coalition based on white grievances. Rather than recognize America’s growing diversity, the GOP welcomed neo-fascists, segregationists, and white nationalists into their ranks.

And now, the Party’s chickens have come home to roost.

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Marlon Weems is a writer and storyteller focused on the intersection of politics, the economy, and racial inequality. He spent more than a decade on Wall Street, where he managed several automated trading businesses. He began his writing career as a capital markets subject-matter expert, providing insights on capital markets to global investment banking clients. Most days you can find him writing from his home on a small North Carolina island with his wife, two of his four children, and two cats.

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