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There is no comparison between what happened when Trump marched through a crowd of peaceful protestors in Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020, and the January 6 insurrection. And that’s why I’m writing this story.
This is a tale about extreme racism and the two Americas which continue to be a reality in the 21st century. It’s about Black Lives Matter and other groups like the ones protesting today across the nation against our government’s failure to keep our people safe. And it’s about January 6 when a mob attempted to overthrow our government after Donald Trump ordered them to direct their hatred towards his own government and violently overthrow our democratic process happening inside the Capitol.
The difference between Lafayette Park and the January 6 insurrection is in the minds of our nation’s people.
For example, every time a Black Lives Matter protest is organized to denounce injustice, right-wing politicians and Fox News call these peaceful protests, protected by the first amendment, “violent riots.” When the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers or other Neo-Nazi hate group holds a march the same politicians and fake journalists call it “free speech.”
On June 1, 2020, a crowd gathered in Lafayette Park, just outside the White House to protest Trump’s fascist policies. His ego was crushed, and he was unable to accept criticism from the people he was elected to serve. Hastily, he organized a group consisting of some of his White House staff, family members, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and a number of our nation’s military. The gates to the White House were opened, and Trump and his entourage began a march to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Led by the military, the peaceful protestors in the park were dispersed with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. The purpose? Trump wanted a photo op in front of the church. This violent violation of first amendment rights was pure fascism. No one on the right denounced Trump’s selfish and un-presidential action.
January 6 was organized weeks prior to the event. It was never intended to be a protest, its purpose was always to overthrow the government of the United States. It was violent and the leaders were Trump, and the leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, both white supremacist groups. Trump supporters and Fox News are attempting to call it a “normal protest,” and claiming that the violence was incited by the Capitol Police. Just a normal protest whose participants wanted to hang the vice-president of the United States because a spoiled, fat, rich man-child didn’t get his way.
I have, and always will, call January 6, 2021 “the darkest day in American history,” when the 45th president of the United States committed treason and attempted to overthrow his own democratic government.
I grew up in an area of West Los Angeles where I enjoyed “white privilege.” However, at age 16, I left Catholic school and attended Venice High School, which was a public school. It was racially mixed, and for the first time, I had friends who were of Asian descent, Hispanic, and Black.
From my black friends, I learned that in fact there were two Americas: one for Blacks and one for Whites. Nothing reveals this more than the way real Americans and white supremacists view peaceful protests and violence with the intention of destroying the United States of America.
Many of the problems facing our nation today are the result of racism and bigotry. However, I have good news, or maybe bad news for pure whites, our country is becoming more diverse every day. In just years, not decades, America will have one minority, pure whites. Our country is destined to be more colorful and far more interesting.
Op-ed by James Turnage
Edited by Marrissa Kay
My nine novels are available on Amazon’s Kindle
USA Today: How police pushed aside protesters ahead of Trump’s controversial church photo; by Karl Gelles, Veronica Bravo, and George Petras
NPR: A timeline of how the Jan. 6 attack unfolded — including who said what and when; by Kat Lonsdorf, Courtney Dorning, Amy Isackson, Mary Louise Kelly, and Ailsa Chang