• Erin Zaranec

There is only one America

Updated: Jan 8

On December 27, 2020 Donald J. Trump tweeted from his personal account “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it! Information to follow!”

I’ve tried to not go too deep into pro-Trump Twitter, but from what I’ve seen through the account of Ashli Babbitt, the domestic terrorist shot and killed in yesterday’s riot, that tweet was a call to the masses.

The pro-Trump base began organizing car pools, planes, and busses to get supporters from across the country into Washington D.C. The messages on Twitter ranged from speaking of January 6 being “the day we win” to a day that’ll be “like 1776 all over again.”

Following his ‘Save America’ rally speech opposing the 2020 election results, Trump’s followers marched to the Capitol building.

At 2:15 p.m., as lawmakers were certifying the election, domestic terrorists violently overtook the Capitol.

In the following hours, so many disturbing images surfaced online. From rioters smoking marijuana under the Capitol dome, to casually stealing the podium of the Speaker of the House, to sitting with their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

And, yes, those images are hard to wrap your head around. I continuously felt like I was staring at scenes from a movie.

But here’s the bigger issue - if the crowd that approached the Capitol was full of citizens of a different ethnicity or racial group, January 6, 2021 would have gone down in history as a blood bath.

Within a 48 hour span in May, two black men attending Black Lives Matter protests were shot in the face with rubber bullets. Anthony Evans had his hands in the air when a rubber bullet struck his face, shattering his jaw. Brandon Saenz had his hands at his side when a rubber bullet struck him, causing him to lose an eye, seven teeth, and need immediate surgery on his face. Yet yesterday, domestic terrorists busted down windows and doors of the heart of this nation’s democracy and didn’t even walk away in handcuffs.

Nick Tilsen, a Native American activist, is facing up to 17 years in prison for allegedly grabbing at a police shield during the Black Hills protest in July. Tilsen stood peacefully with 100 other Indigenous land defenders, who were met with tear gas and force from responding officers. Yet just yesterday, a white domestic terrorist calmly sat in the Capitol building holding a police shield.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, despite using marijuana at similar rates, Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested on a marijuana charge. Black people made up 27% of the arrests for drug violations in 2017, yet only make up 13.4% of the U.S. population, according to DrugPolicy.org. Yet yesterday, a white man smoked marijuana under the dome of the Capitol building.

At the end of the day on January 6, around 53 arrests had been made. Fifty-three arrests after thousands of people turned their right to peaceful protest into a violent overtaking of a federal building.

Between May 30 and June 2, 2020 - 427 “unrest related” arrests were made in Washington D.C. during Black Lives Matter protests.

I could make a 10 page blog post with more and more examples that come as a result of yesterday’s event.

But here’s the underlying message we all need to see: there are not two Americas. Our country isn’t ‘better than’ what happened yesterday.

This is the same America that allowed Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy with a toy gun, to get shot to death with no justice.

The same America that barely batted an eye when Breonna Taylor, an EMT sleeping in her home, was shot to death after police raided her home on a no-knock warrant… that was issued to the wrong address.

The same America that placed Grace, a 15 year old Black girl, into a juvenile detention center for not completing her online homework.

The same America that allowed Anthony Hinton, a Black man from the South, to sit on death row for 28 years for a crime he was proven to have not committed.

Yesterday was undeniable imagery of the hate that has been fueled for the past four years. But this isn’t a new issue. There have been structures in place for decades that built up to this moment, that allowed white domestic terrorists to be called protestors, that allowed for so many of them to freely walk away.

We need to do better. We need to be better. We need to realize that there is only one America and we all play a role in the fate of how this country turns out.


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