WASHINGTON, D.C. – Defending Rights & Dissent and Justice for Muslims Collective are non-partisan organizations. We are unwavering in our commitment for people in a democracy to exercise their sacred right to select for themselves their own leaders.
Yesterday, a group of Trump supporters, egged on by the President and some members of Congress, besieged the Capitol with the sole purpose of using brute force to halt the constitutionally required counting of electoral votes. There is no other word for such efforts other than an attempted coup.
“While we condemn these crimes against democracy, such antics cannot be used to justify new repressive measures against actual protests, restrictions of the right of peaceful assembly, or curtailment of speech,” said Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent. “This cannot become a justification to create a new domestic terrorism law, which may be intended to address white supremacist violence, but which will doubtlessly be deployed against the very communities it purports to protect.”
“The police protected white supremacists even as they inflicted violence onto others,” noted Dr. Maha Hilal, co-executive director of Justice for Muslims Collective. “It goes without saying that had Black and Brown people engaged in a similar fashion, they would have literally been murdered.”
The coup failed, but not before exposing a stark contrast to the militarized police violence progressive protesters, especially those who are Black or Brown, have faced recently and throughout U.S. history. As two groups that have taken part in protest at the Capitol, we have witnessed first-hand the massive police and militarized response to our protests. As we saw in DC and across the country last summer, Black Lives Matter protesters cannot even protest non-violently without being kettled, beaten, bloodied, bruised and mass arrested for minor or even non-existent infractions.
“DC will continue to be used as a stage by white supremacist and nationalist groups who have assaulted DC residents, burned and desecrated sacred sites, including burning a Black Lives Matter sign at the historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, and targeted Black Lives Matter protestors and Black Lives Matter Plaza,” said Darakshan Raja, co-executive director of Justice for Muslims Collective. “It is therefore critical that DC receive statehood as federal agencies are able to get away with trampling on the rights and safety of DC residents.”
Yesterday’s events prove that law enforcement are more than capable of exercising restraint and attempting to de-escalate before immediately resorting to violence to stamp out dissent.
“The Capitol Police were not ‘unprepared.’ They knew exactly what to expect from this crowd, and made a decision to respond with restraint,” said Sue Udry, executive director of Defending Rights & Dissent. “We ask why police cannot respond with similar restraint when Black and brown and antifascist protesters demand racial and environmental justice.”
The disparate treatment and clear political biases of law enforcement were on display for anyone to see, and reaffirms the fact that law enforcement agencies in DC and across the country coddle – and in many circumstances directly collaborate with these groups. We demand a fully public investigation into the federal & local police planning and response to yesterday’s events. We also call for the termination & prosecution of all officers & officials found to have condoned or colluded with the white supremacists.
Justice for Muslims Collection is building a world where radical inclusion leads to collective liberation for Muslim communities and beyond. The mission of Justice for Muslims Collective is to dismantle institutional and structural Islamophobia through raising political consciousness and shifting narratives, community empowerment, organizing and healing, and building alliances across movements with a focus on the greater Washington region.