White Nationalists Trash Capitol -Politely Allowed to leave Without Being Arrested

Nationalist gathered at the Georgia State Capitol in 2012 protesting gun control legislation. Photo the writer

“They always get away!”

The day after the not guilty verdict came in from the George Zimmerman case back in 2012 for the murder of Trayvon Martin, a friend from college called me with a teary voice. She cried: “White people always getaway; they always getaway.”

While I attempted to console her by saying we are a nation of laws, and justice, in the end, will prevail, I knew in my heart from my own life experiences that she was right. “They always get away.”

They get away with the murder of Black people with impunity, of this one thing, Black people are wise. You can add insurrection to the list of things that white people, unlike Black people, can do without facing legal consequences.

While watching news coverage of the takeover of the US Congress, I counted 61 white Nationalists walking out a door from the Capitol held open by a Black Capitol Police Officer.

My grandfather Charles, who was born in the 19th century, would often say that the laws were not made to apply to white people; rules were intended to keep Black people in their place.

Nothing I’ve seen in six decades can nullify the truth Granddad spoke. Whether it is standing your ground laws, self-defense, lying, or waging a rebellious war with the federal government, the regulations do not apply to white people. Black people do not benefit from any doubt when these issues arrive, but the whites, the thought that they came close to breaching the law, is never considered.

In 1963, Black people in Birmingham, Alabama, just wanted to go downtown and use public accommodations. They peacefully petitioned the local government for the change they sought. The Police Chief ordered the fire department to blast the demonstrators with firehoses, then caused the cops to sic the dogs on them.

In Selma, Alabama, in 1965, Black people wanted to peacefully walk several hundred miles to Montgomery to demonstrate their right to vote. But, no, the High Sheriff told them they could not cross the bridge leading out of town and ordered the cops to beat them with cattle prods and to trample upon them with horses if they tried to walk out of town.

We do not have to go that far back. Just look at Ferguson, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Brunswick in the past decade. The list is unending from 1619 through today.

Very few can form the words to say that the President criminally lobbied the Georgia Secretary of State to commit fraud by changing the Georgia election results to make it appear that he won, and Joe Biden lost. 

Nor can they see that Trump criminally incited a group of White Nationalists to storm the Capitol, and thus should be charged under the felony murder statute for the death of Ashli Babbitt killed during the commission of a felony (sedition) at the president’s behest. 

It is time to test Trump’s theory that he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and suffer no legal or political consequences. The blood of Ashli Babbitt killed on Capitol Hill during the bloody coup of 9/6/21 ordered by Trump is on his hands.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

“America does not like Black people. America, if you love me, why do you treat me the way you do,” Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said one day before the 2020 Georgia Senate Runoff.

Charles Steele, Jr., President and CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Photo the writer

When white cops approach a Black person, they come with guns drawn and a belligerent vocal tone placing the Black citizen in a position that their only response, no matter how calm, is resistance. This perceived resistance allows the cop to escalate the encounter, which generally ends with the Black citizen either arrested or dead from a gunshot wound or from a knee to their body that restricts airflow to the brain.

But white people can violently take over the innermost sanctum of Western Democracy and, save for one rebel shot in the early stages of the government takeover, receive the kid-glove treatment.

“All we ask,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once told America, “is that you be true to your creed.”

If you allow white thugs to tear up the legislative office building of the leading proponent of democracy in the world, then you must treat peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators with the same kid gloves.

The Biden administration has a lot of work to do when it comes to restoring faith in the criminal justice system for Black Americans. One quick way to start is by treating white people the way you treat Black people.

Let’s start there.

If you believe that good policing is the methodology used in policing Black and Brown communities, then make this the standard. It serves no useful purpose to legislate new standards if white officers can use their racial biases when policing white communities. All Black and Brown people ask for is equal treatment under the law.

If the whites get the breaks, the Blacks and Browns should get the same benefits of the law. Anything else is unequal justice, unconstitutional, and a potential future cause for Black Americans to storm the fortress of American Democracy like the privileged whites who trashed the Capitol on January 6 , 2021.

Come on, America, the whole world is watching you just as she has watched Georgia for the past two months. America, come on. All we ask is that you live up to your creed, that all women and men on these shores are created equal. Do unto the coloreds as you do unto the whites.

Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. Harvey is an engaging public speaker. Contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.


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Published by Michael

Harold Michael Harvey is a Past President of The Gate City Bar Association and is the recipient of the Association’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award. He is the author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, and a two-time winner of Allvoices’ Political Pundit Prize. His work has appeared in Facing South, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Black Colleges Nines, and Medium.