ANDERSON — Like many Black Americans, Anderson’s JJ Jackson, Tia Holt and Tamie Dixon-Tatum believe there’s no comparison between the mayhem last week at the U.S. Capitol and social justice protests nationwide last summer.
“I’ve seen the blatant, undisguised racism and the blatant white privilege,” Jackson said. “If it was protesters who did Black Lives Matter, they would have never gotten inside the (Capitol) gate.”
One thought crossed the minds of Jackson, Holt and Dixon-Tatum as they watched events unfold Jan. 6: There’s no way Black protesters would have been allowed to scale the walls, put their feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk or take selfies with Capitol police.
As reflected on social media, Black Americans looked on in disbelief as President Donald Trump’s supporters tried to stop Vice President Mike Pence and the joint houses of Congress from declaring Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election. At least five people have died as a result of the insurrection.
The trio from Madison County believe that law enforcement might have been complicit in the attempted takeover of Capitol Hill. They also believe that Trump followers are likely to renew their attempts to prevent the transfer of power at the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden.
Jackson, who works at the Madison County Youth Center, said that even though the United States has its challenges, he loves this nation. Jackson said he couldn’t have been more surprised as he watched a man carry a Confederate flag through the Capitol, something that never happened during the Civil War.
“There were things going on there that happen in third-world countries. This could have started a civil war,” he said. “A power shift is going on, not only in the White House but in other areas of our country.”
As he watched, Jackson said, he was struck by a lack of law enforcement.
“The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Where is the Army? Where is the National Guard at?’ It was hours before they showed up,” he said.
Believing the nation has not seen the end of the violence, Jackson hopes the inauguration will take place indoors with a limited number of spectators.
Holt, whose mother is white and whose biological father is Black, said she was saddened but not surprised by the events of Jan. 6. Because of her ambiguous appearance, she said, white people sometimes don’t immediately remember she is part Black and sometimes say things they might not if they actually thought they were in mixed company.
“I wasn’t happy about who won four years ago (when Trump was elected), but I didn’t go to the Capitol building and break in,” she said.
Like Jackson, Holt is suspicious of law enforcement and military who normally have control of such large events, especially since they were aware it was being planned.
“I’ve seen (police) more aggressive to people who were running away from them than they were for with these people who were coming for them,” she said.
Holt said there’s no comparison between Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was killed by officers as she helped storm the Capitol, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a law enforcement raid last March in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Breonna Taylor was asleep in her house. She wasn’t doing anything,” Holt noted. “That comparison is ridiculous because you can’t compare a person that was breaking into the Capitol to someone who was asleep in her own home.”
The events left her feeling tense, Holt said, but she hopes the turmoil dies down following the inauguration.
Trump supporters are “still going to be throwing hissy fits for a while, but it will die off eventually,” she predicted.
An expert in implicit bias and diversity issues, Dixon-Tatum said white nationalism, which she believes was a motivator for the attempted takeover of the Capitol, is the nation’s greatest threat.
“To display this type of behavior and to consistently incite violence without consequence, this kind of ‘immunity’ is white privilege,” she said.
“These folks tried to take over the government not because of poverty and the real mistreatment of people, but they tried to overthrow because of an election, really. They wanted to hear four more years of coded hate messages with racism entrenched in rules.”
Not only was the riot a political threat, it also posed a health threat; most participants did not wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Dixon-Tatum said. She added that the federal government may be at least partially responsible if there is a surge of COVID-19 after officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the event was not likely to cause a rise in cases.
“But that is an interesting twist as well, especially since everything else seems to be a threat to the spread of COVID,” she said.