It has been a challenge to watch the January 6 Committee hearings. That’s because I can’t get past the fact that I know the situation would be completely different had it been Black protesters storming the capital on January 6. I also know the limitations of the Congressional committee which has no authority to bring criminal charges against trump and his white supremacist thugs. What impact, if any, will the public hearings have on a racially divided nation?
There’s no doubt in my mind that the steps leading up to the U.S. Capitol would have been stained with the blood of brothers and sisters after they made it known they were coming to “drag mother***s through the streets” if Trump didn’t get the presidency back. Had Black men in military fatigue scaled the building, assaulted federal officers, broken down doors and windows to enter, destroyed and stole government property… If I use the forty-one rounds fired into the body of unarmed Amadou Diallo in eight seconds for complying with cops’ orders to raise his hands, the hypothetical carnage of Black bodies is unbearable.
The Congressional hearings on the January 6 coup will share the panel’s findings from its months-long investigation. There is unseen footage and unheard testimony but what we saw in real time on January 6 was more than enough to know that this country is at a dangerous crossroad.
The charges against the several thousands who stormed the Capitol faced or should have faced were many. They include attempted murder, murder, seditious conspiracy, entering restricted areas, unlawful entry onto Capitol grounds, entering restricted areas with a deadly or dangerous weapon, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings, engaging in physical violence in a restricted area, possession of unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, assault of officers, theft of government property, destruction of federal property, impeding passage through Capitol grounds, disorderly conduct, to name a few.
Proud Boys and Oath Keepers should be deemed Public Enemies #1. The Black Panther Party was smacked with this unjustified moniker by FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in 1968. The Party was subsequently destroyed, its members forced into exile, jailed or murdered by law enforcement.
In 1954, when Puerto Rican liberators entered the gallery in business attire to make their case, it was a very different political environment. Lolita Lebron was tackled before she had time to unfurl her country’s flag. She and her three male campaneros were probably more interested in being martyrs for their cause of independence than killing lawmakers (they had firearms). Charged with seditious conspiracy and attempted murder, the four were sentenced to 70 years in prison. They could’ve gotten out sooner had they repented by making a public apology for their actions but all adamantly refused. After serving 25 years, President Jimmy Carter pardoned them in 1979.
There are key questions remaining but not about who did what. Do people understand the seriousness of January 6 on the political climate in the U.S.? Will the consequences for the January 6 rioters fit the crimes to make an emphatic point? If they even come close to real justice, will it be fuel for more seditious acts and violence towards non-white, non-Christian, non-male populations?
Is trump still considered the white savior who could be elected in 2024 if there are no federal charges against him? He survived an impeachment in spite of overwhelming evidence. He still enjoys unconditional support by half of this country. He could ascend to his throne once again.
Non-trump supporters should be organizing like our lives depend on it. Our communities need to understand the multi-layers of this political moment and the consequences of having no analysis and implementing misguided strategies.
Viva Puerto Rico Libre! and Black Lives Matter! are still relevant demands. In the face of an expanding, violent white supremacist movement, they are empty slogans that make us feel good but not be powerful.