WASHINGTON—The idea that White domestic terrorists and Trump supporters thought they could storm the U.S. Capitol, fight with, injure and murder police officers, loot and vandalize lawmakers’ offices, be allowed to go home and not be held accountable, illustrates the sense of impunity certain White people possess.
That law enforcement officers from different states were involved, U.S. Capitol Police officers were suspended or are under investigation for possibly siding with the insurrectionists, and National Guardsmen were pulled from protecting the Capitol at the last minute for fear of their political views or loyalty, America has a much deeper problem than former President Trump. There are even questions about Defense Dept. failures to deploy Guardsmen before the assault on the Capitol despite pleas from the then head of the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C., government officials.
Matthew F. Fogg joined the U.S. Marshals Service in 1978, became a highly decorated federal law officer and a whistleblower exposing the entrenched racism Black and Brown agents faced in the organization. He said he remains deeply concerned about the infiltration of White nationalism and White extremist groups and individuals into law enforcement and the military.
“I’ve always been concerned about that. I’ve been talking about this for years,” said Mr. Fogg, executive director of the Congress Against Racism and Corruption in Law Enforcement. “Hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals have infiltrated law enforcement and the military. The federal government should have always been trying to root them out. Yes, it’s very concerning. If we do nothing, it doesn’t just sit dormant, it grows.”
“Racism is a threat to law enforcement and national security. They have to make it (the work environment and opportunities) more equal. It should be fair. We have to have oversight on top of oversight. We need a civil review board and a vetting process to sift out the unqualified. Then I think the rest will work itself out.”
An article by Los Angeles Times Jaweed Kaleem and Kurtis Lee published on Military.com observed the so-called Jan. 6 “rioters” included “ex-members of the military and police or actively employed by the armed services and law enforcement.
“Since the Capitol attack, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer and an Air Force veteran turned QAnon extremist, law enforcement authorities, journalists and amateur internet sleuths have scoured images, videos and arrest reports to identify those who were in the pro-Trump crowd,” said the writers.
“The participants included members of the Oath Keepers, which recruits from ex-police and veterans, and Three Percenters, who wear patches and carry flags with the Roman Numeral III. Photos show that another anti-government group, the Boogaloo Bois, was also in D.C. The military and law enforcement ties among some rioters rattled U.S. officials ahead of more possible violence.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the attack as “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building and our Constitutional process,” the writers added.
“The Joint Chiefs, which is made up of the eight top branch generals, told service members that their jobs were to ‘support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law.’
“The letter was addressed to the joint force, which covers the 1.3 million active-duty service members. It also includes 811,000 National Guard members and reservists.”
The “military and police training shared by many on the far-right present a dangerous dilemma for law enforcement seeking to quell riots and protests, especially since many followers invoke the Revolutionary War and see themselves as patriots,” observed writers Kaleem and Lee.
“Those in the Washington mob included 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego whom police shot dead as she was among armed rioters forcing their way through the Capitol.”
“Police officers from Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington state, and the police chief of Troy, N.H., were in Washington on Jan. 6, as was a firefighter from Sanford, Fla. (And) federal officials arrested and charged two Rocky Mount, Va., officers with unlawfully entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct,” they noted.
“There are 19.5 million veterans in the country, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The federal government has not done a comprehensive study of how many have joined extremist causes, though experts said the vast majority do not.
“The history of extremism, law enforcement and the military goes deep in the U.S. Former Confederate officers founded the Ku Klux Klan in the 19th century. In the 1970s, the Klan operated openly at Camp Pendleton. In 1995, Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.”
“Civil rights groups have since criticized screening measures in the military that do not outright ban White supremacists. (“Mere membership in a white supremacist group is not prohibited,” deputy director of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Robert Grabosky said at February hearing of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Armed Services Committee.),” reported Kaleem and Lee.
“Some militias recruit specifically among veterans and ex-police. The Oath Keepers is one of them. Its name comes from the oaths its members took as law enforcement and military. The group’s founder, former Army paratrooper Steward Rhodes, joined the pro-Trump rally … but has said he did not enter the Capitol or confront police.”
According to the Times reporting, Mr. Rhodes has boasted: “ ‘The leftist terrorists know our police go armed and they don’t know which among the Oath Keepers they are looking at are police,’ ” he wrote on the Oath Keepers website, which has since gone offline. “ ‘We always mix in our police with our military members.’ ”
Rhett Butler, a writer for The Shadow League, said his initial reaction to the insurrection was “chickens coming home to roost.”
“Before Donald Trump left the White House, I knew he’d have a final act. I knew something was going to happen,” he said. “The ‘patriots’ represent the core values of the people who founded this country. They thought they were doing the right thing. They’re surprised that they’re being put in jail. The core of America is to live a lie. If you don’t prop up the lies, it doesn’t fit comfortably in the American narrative. Whiteness and white supremacy are meeting, and ‘patriots’ are coming to realize that their patriotism is low-key terrorism.”
“People are shell-shocked, and people are quiet.”
Mr. Butler, a play-by-play commentator, Combat Sports insider, and former Mixed Martial Arts and boxing promoter, said while he doesn’t want to give credit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but said it needs to list and monitor all White terror organizations around the country.
“For too long, White people have been able to make positives out of their negatives. America is good at making examples. There will be legal repercussions for the rioters but until we hit at core ideology of this country, this won’t go away. There’s another Trump being incubated right now. America still has never grappled with the fact that it created a system that encourages and feeds demagoguery. It’s all tokenism and putting people in positions to pacify the masses. For real change, they would have to shake everything up and toss out the guidebook of people who are very comfortable with enslavement.”
Alexandra Gelbard said she is so disillusioned by Mr. Trump’s attempt to steal the election, the Jan. 6 insurrection and Republican senators’ treachery and betrayal of their constitutional duty that she wants very much to become a hermit deep in the mountains.
“One word to describe how I feel is disgusted,” said Ms. Gelbard, a visiting scholar and Ph.D. candidate at Florida International University in Miami. “In the United States, egregious acts are committed against the people of this country, but we’re expected to move on. There’s no accountability. We’re seeing the real live hypocrisy of a country that was founded on the systemic dehumanization and exploitation of labor, genocide in the original land space and slavery.”
“What happened was inevitable. I’m not surprised with what happened on the 6th. We got advanced warnings. Trump and his allies were very clear what they planned to do, and they would end up giving him a pass. There are 15 senators who refused to go to work during the impeachment. They blatantly disregarded their jobs and engaged in pathological behavior. We’ve seen these patterns happen over and over again, such as in 1835 in the Snow Riot.”
Tensions precipitated by Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831 and tensions between abolitionists and slave owners led to the riot. For several days, a lynch mob destroyed Black establishments, churches and schools because of White workers’ anger over free Blacks being able to work and resentment that they had to compete with Blacks for jobs.
Ms. Gelbard said a truth and reconciliation commission might bring healing, but said she isn’t sure if that would work or if Americans have the will to take the necessary steps needed to bring healing.
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever said she has no interest in finding common ground with people who hate her for no reason and want her, her family and those who look like her dead.
“I hear people talking about healing. I can’t heal if I’m constantly hurt by people who refuse to acknowledge and put into place the necessary mechanisms to reach healing,” she said. “They want to skip over this and have people shut up. There is no desire for healing.”
“I don’t want to compromise and come to some sort of healing with White supremacists, people who want to completely disenfranchise us. We must look at the complete annihilation of this enemy. The challenge I believe the Biden administration has, and must face, is that they need to understand who they’re up against. They should seek no healing from the criminal class. My advice is that when these people talk about unity, it’s a false flag. They’re trying to get us to mute us, dull our power.”
That reality has been further validated by the fact that in spite of House Impeachment managers making a compelling case that former President Donald Trump was the chief architect of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the decision by Republic senators to vote to acquit him demonstrates that those in power will never hold other White people accountable, several observers and critics said.
“The reality is this country has been consistent in not holding White people accountable for their violence,” said Dr. Jones-DeWeever, a political analyst, author and public speaker. “The implication is a new sort of direction that we see. Republicans are using this as a tactic. They have not acknowledged Trump’s loss and are inciting violence to intimidate people. I believe this has emboldened organizations. I expect them to continue with White supremacist racial and political violence.”
“Until we prioritize crushing those organizations as a governmental necessity, they will be allowed to metastasize and grow. It will be particularly difficult for the country and for Black people.”
The Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler agreed. “I think the deeper impact is that America shows what is its longstanding history,” said the veteran civil rights and social justice activist. “When they don’t get their way, they resort to violence like in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898, the Red Summer of 1919 and Tulsa in 1921. The violence will continue because the reality is that White folks don’t want to share power,” said Rev. Hagler, senior pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Northeast Washington, D.C.
“We have new extremist groups and a whole new generation like the Proud Boyz, Boogaloo Bois, right on down the line,” said Rev. Hagler. “They have multiplied because they came together in hatred of people of color. They are the protectors of White idolatry and they are fighting to show who has more hatred.”
Mr. Trump’s pronouncements before, during, and after the 2020 presidential election that it was stolen, animated his base—a mélange of White domestic terror groups and other far-right supporters. He told them to come to the District of Columbia on Jan. 6 to stop Congressional lawmakers from certifying the election. After a rally on the Ellipse, Mr. Trump encouraged the throng to march to the Capital and “stop the steal.”
For between five to six hours, according to House impeachment managers, the mob stormed the building with military precision, searched in vain for lawmakers, ransacked and destroyed offices, urinated and defecated in and around offices and fought with an undermanned police presence using baseball bats, flagpoles, fire extinguishers police shields and other objects. One Capitol Police officer died after being beaten in his upper body, more than 140 D.C. and Capitol Police officers sustained an assortment of injuries including spinal injuries, brain trauma and broken ribs, and two others committed suicide after the incident. One officer reportedly lost three fingers, another might lose an eye and there’s no way to assess the mental and emotional trauma the officers suffered, say analysts.
(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)