By Caitlyn Hunter
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
There is nothing more terrifying than a mob of angry white people. It’s synonymous with violence. It breeds hate. It ends in death.
I can’t control the tears as I watch hundreds of people rush the United States Capitol breaking windows, busting down doors, and eventually, chasing a Black Capitol policeman up the steps. A Black man who can’t turn his back for fear of being hurt by these terrorists. This is the first time in my life where I am fearful for someone in law enforcement. Not because he is police, but because he is Black and alone. I am trying to find breath when I see a white man seated with his feet up in Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office leave a note on a manila folder stating “We will not back down.”
This is Nancy Pelosi’s desk. pic.twitter.com/dFZGTn66Xp
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) January 6, 2021
This is what happens when a president, during a televised debate, signifies to Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Remember this fear. Remember this moment. This is a coup and this coup is not bloodless. It simply has no regard for life.
I can’t think straight. I am displaced with grief. Grief for a country that I am a citizen to. Grief that something like this is even possible. I call my mother to calm me down. When she answers all I hear is her yelling at the TV.
She is watching the same Black man being chased.
Police retreating and fleeing from the horde of MAGA protectors storming the US Capitol. Scary moment. pic.twitter.com/V1LyLydqzu
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 6, 2021
“This is horrible,” I tell her between sobs. “I don’t understand why this is happening.”
“It is happening because they didn’t want Black people to vote. They are angry and upset and want to take our power away.”
On July 17, 1946 in Georgia a military veteran Maceo Snipes was the first and only Black man to cast his vote in his county. Two days after casting his ballot, Snipes was met with a firing squad of white men outside of his mother’s home. Snipes made it to the hospital and the doctors removed his bullets but the blood transfusion needed to survive went unanswered as the hospital was “out of Black blood.”
Snipes died the next day.
Even though he had relayed to police who had lured him outside, even though his mother gave the police a detailed account of events, the ruling was one of “self-defense.”
What does it mean to have power? Who owns it and who makes the rules?
There are countless stories of Black people succumbing to violence because they knew that there was true power in voting. When my Grandfather was in hospice, the last thing he did was cast an absentee ballot because he knew of this power. The day he died Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States and I mourned two losses that day.
I’ve mourned for this country ever since.
To protest peacefully is our god-given right. That much, I am sure, is a point where we can all agree. But there is a point where peace was disturbed and it crossed a line. When we protested over the summer, when we screamed in the streets that Black Lives Matter, we were called rioters and met with tear gas. We were called anti-American and arrested under the guise of inciting terror. Now, in the wake of a new year, the same people who called us as such are now the very people wreaking havoc on a symbol of the sanctuary of democracy. These are the people hanging ropes over walls, taking candid photos in the Senate in unitards, and making a mockery of our country.
I listen as the crowd jeers “FREEDOM” and “USA” I have to wonder, how do actions like this make us free? Is this what our country’s forefathers envisioned when they constructed an outline for America?
I honestly miss the times of George W. Bush. I miss the days of when we could respectfully disagree on political standings and it did not lead to hostility. And now I am watching as “protestors” in bulletproof vests and camouflage and MAGA hats high-five one another and smile proudly for inciting chaos. I have to wonder: if this had happened during the Black Live Matters protests what would’ve been the result? While these people see themselves as heroes and true patriots, we, the Black American, all would’ve been massacred.
Let us not whitewash this moment. Let’s color it for the reality that it is: we, as a nation are upset, angry, and disenfranchised. All of us.
This is a moment that is unprecedented. It demonstrates that none of us are safe. It also proves at any point, if there are enough people who are angry and predominately white, then there will be no lethal actions taken by law enforcement. This is what a riot looks like.
This is America.