The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held a rally at the Barclays Center downtown on Thursday night, Jan. 7, to decry what they said was law enforcement’s double standard between how they treated the Trump supporters seditious take over of the U.S. Capital building this week and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in recent months.
Among the couple of hundred protesters were DSA member and newly elected State Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope), Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and city council candidates Anthony Beckford for District 45 and Chi Ossé for District 36.
DSA Co-chairs Sumathy Kumar and Chi Anunwa heavily criticized the Capitol police, at least one of whom was seen looking as if he was posing as a rioter took a selfie, for the staunch difference in how pro-Trump supporters were treated in comparison to BLM protesters. In addition to impeachment, the DSA demanded the abolishment of the electoral college.
“As horrifying as this attempted coup was, it’s merely a symptom of the broader rot in our political system. This is a political system that is rife with white supremacy, state-sanctioned violence, and a lack of true democracy for the working class,” said Anunwa. “And to make matters even worse this mob was also aided and abetted by Republicans who publicly refuse to certify the election results.”
Nelini Stamp, Direct Strategy and Partnerships of the Working Family Parties, had similar comments in her speech. “You reap what you sow, and it’s time for the GOP to reap what they sowed. The stench of what happened yesterday must never wash off of their party,” said Stamp.
Williams began his speech by reminding the crowd of Miriam Carey’s violent death at the hands of Capitol police and Secret Service in 2014. Carey was an “unarmed dental hygienist from Connecticut,” a 34-year-old Black woman, and mother in her car with her 1-year-old when she allegedly got turned around near a White House checkpoint. She was shot five times. CNN reported that law enforcement analysts at the time justified her shooting because she could’ve been a “terrorist” with a possible “bomb” and it was a split second decision.
Those split seconds turned into hours in 2021 under similar circumstances, said Williams.
“Thousands of people marched into and took over the Capitol, they scaled the walls, they brought in pipe bombs and weapons, and zipties. They destroyed the Capitol, and except for a few, they largely went unharmed and had breakfast with their families this morning,” shouted Williams. “We know if those insurrectionists and rioters had but an ounce of melanin in their skin we’d still be cleaning up the blood off the senate floor and the steps, except we wouldn’t have made it to the steps.”
Williams also took a moment to appreciate the levers of Democracy that allowed Trump to be voted out and Republicans who chose not to object to their state’s electoral votes late Wednesday night when the count had finally resumed.
Ossé said that BLM organizers like himself feel vilified. “The far right and the right-wing conservatives have taken this high road for the past couple of months that they’re nonviolent. That we’re the agitators. That we’re the violent ones and we saw them for what we always saw them for and the rest of the country hadn’t,” said Ossé.
“If I had rushed those officers like that, if I had even pushed those officers like they did, I’d have been shot,” said Beckford. Beckford said when he travelled to DC to support the BLM demonstrations during Trump’s inauguration, he said they had four different police departments and national guard with pepper spray and flash bangs.
Brisport led the crowd shortly after in chanting “Donald Trump. Get him out.” before heading a march up Flatbush Avenue to Grand Army plaza with police escorts.