In the wake of the Trump-inspired attack on the Capitol on January 6, there’s much talk about passing domestic anti-terrorism laws and expanding those already on the books. People are being added to no-fly lists and the Capitol remains on lockdown with thousands of troops deployed there until March.
We are reminded of the government response after 9/11, when many police powers and surveillance laws were expanded, like the US Patriot Act, and thousands of Muslims were rounded up, registered with the government, spied on and terrorized. There has been no round-up of thousands of white Christians since January 6.
The expanded police and surveillance powers given to the government have been used against citizens and immigrants, Muslim and non-Muslim. Similarly, the “conspiracy” charges being leveled against some of the “insurrectionists” could also be applied to those who traveled to Minneapolis after the police murder of George Floyd or those who went to Ferguson after the police murder of Michael Brown.
The attack on the Capitol was not due to a lack of laws or police power. It was an abundance of racism, a lynch mob. Just weeks before on December 12, the Proud Boys led an attack on two Black churches and burned Black Lives Matter banners in Washington, DC while flashing the “White Power” sign.
Just as Trump was the result of an 8-year racist “birther” assault on Obama, in many ways January 6 was a response to the anti-racist uprising against police terror this past summer. The answer isn’t more laws, its more anti-racism.
Our union has done a modest job at contributing to the anti-racist movement. We can do better. And today, we commit ourselves to that task.