Berkeley hotels

January 6 followed years of political violence. The committee should also investigate left-wing violence

There is a lingering infamy to January 6, and rightly so. Yet the mob madness is not unique to Trump and his “Stop the Steal” supporters.

Trump’s “coup in search of a legal theory,” as President Bennie Thompson called it during Thursday night’s session of the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, is unique in its scope, but not in his assault on American democracy.

There was a trajectory of modern mob formation during the Trump years that the Jan. 6 select committee would do well to explore in subsequent hearings.

A bloodied woman outside a Sacramento Trump rally cradles her companion’s head after he was beaten by ‘Antifa Sacramento’ Black Bloc supporters. The movements of the “counter-action” of December 5, 2020 were tweeted in real time from the group’s Twitter. The doctors on the left are watching.
Jeremy Lee Quinn

The civil unrest may have peaked on January 6, but it started much earlier. And the potential for its continued activation has been with us ever since. If the members of the Jan. 6 select committee fail to delve into the mob events leading up to Jan. 6, they will miss half the story.

Fortunately, it can be found on Twitter. And what you learn when you cover these protests is that neither the right nor the left has a monopoly on political violence.

On January 19, 2017, Trump supporters were attacked in riot leftists in the nation’s capital under the hashtag #DisruptJ20. Three months later, three men pleaded guilty to their involvement in a DC Antifascist Coalition plot to release butyric acid through the vents of the National Press Club, site of the pro-Trump DeploraBall celebration event. .

UC Berkeley that year became the site of riots and Black Bloc clashes occasioned by visits by conservative speakers to campus. These riots took place before and after the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. But they got a fraction of the press.

In the summer of 2022, police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho arrested members of the ethno-nationalist group Patriot Front, an offshoot of the white nationalist group Vanguard America, as they planned to oppose an event Gay Pride.

Jake Lee green
In the summer of 2022, police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho arrested members of the ethno-nationalist group “Patriot Front,” an offshoot of “Vanguard America,” as they planned to oppose a Gay Pride event.
Jake Lee green

The man who killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville by ramming his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters represented Vanguard America, and members of the Patriot Front were recently forced out of the Chicago March for Life event in January 2022 by the Conservatives.

Right-wing protests were targeted violently in the fall of 2020, resulting in a hate crime charge in California and a shooting death at the end of the summer Oregon. The first was organized by the group Berkeley Antifa, who took to Twitter to call on leftists to “be fierce”. The latter was the work of a lone shooter who identified himself as “100% Antifa. Both victims had ties to groups that the media describes as “extreme right.” Both were accosted and attacked on the street.

Three dates in DC stand out before Jan. 6, further explaining how violent mob action crescendoed in the nation’s capital.

On November 14, 2020 in Washington DC, Trump supporters were attacked en masse by the Black Bloc after the Million MAGA March at Freedom Plaza. Trump supporters leaving the rally passed through Black Lives Matter Plaza, where they were assaulted, sprayed with chemicals or chased away from the neighborhood. Nearby diners had fireworks launched on them. As night fell, the Proud Boys retaliated by tearing down the BLM signs. fights broke out in the streets of the national capital.

MAGA punch to the face
‘Maga punch in the face.’ Black Bloc leftists march through the streets of DC. The video captured several assaults on Trump supporters passing near BLM Square on November 14, 2020.
Brendan Guttenschwager

A second Million MAGA march took place a month later, on December 12, 2020, and at nightfall, opposing political crowds clashed again on the streets of DC. Leftists converged on right wingers in their hotels, and roving gangs of Proud Boys swarmed the alleyways in search of opponents.

Finally, on January 5, 2022 in Washington DC, Trump supporters marched through Black Lives Matter Square. Outnumbered leftists tweeted warnings to supporters not to come out, and only a handful showed up in the Black Bloc to wave BLM flags, protected by the Metropolitan Police. Trump supporters briefly clashed with MPD for the first time that night in DC

Only then did January 6 happen.

Seen in this context, it becomes clear that many members of the January 6 riot crowd were appropriating the techniques showcased by their political rivals throughout the summer of 2020, from makeshift shields to impact weapons to gas masks, helmets and even skateboards.

Frontline Jan 6 activists have moved their operations forward, following Trump’s ‘will be wild’ tweet: Oath keepers stockpiled guns across the river. Proud Boys issued a “1776 Returns” document to occupy the buildings, although the US Capitol was not named.

And yet, the vast majority of the tens of thousands present that day were not rioting at all. Much like the BLM protesters of 2020, they too were “mostly peaceful.” And a bit like in 2020, violence prevailed.

Outside the Capitol
Outside the Capitol, Trump supporters crowd in front of the terrace. January 6, 2021
Jeremy Lee Quinn

At the opening of the first select committee hearing on January 6, Chariman Thompson compared supporters of the Capitol insurrection to supporters of “slavery, the Ku Kux Klan and lynching.” President Biden told a crowd in October 2021 that January 6 “was white supremacy, in my opinion.”

But speaking to protesters outside the Capitol that day, I heard grievances against government mandates, Big Tech, and BLM and Antifa supporters, who many believed had been given carte blanche by the national press. when his followers rioted and attacked the others.

The demographic makeup of the January 6 protesters was very different from that of Charlottesville. Those arrested at the Capitol were older, only 7% were unemployed, and nine out of 10 people arrested were not affiliated with any group like the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys, according to CPOST research Jan. 6. Meanwhile, a former Proud Boy named Thad, a person of color kicked out of the group for having a dialogue with a BLM leader days before the Capitol riot, told me that the white supremacist element of the group was “tiny”.

If we want to understand why millions chose to follow the machinations of a narcissistic strongman, rather than the media telling them they were being racist if they did, we better argue for another guy investigation into who showed up on January 6. and why.

The mass unrest of January 6 was just one piece of a larger puzzle of the country’s disease of polarization, media myopia and escalating political violence. This is where the January 6 Committee should turn next. If our political leaders and the press fail to do so, we are doomed to do the same again in 2024.

Jeremy Lee Quinn is an investigative photojournalist who documented riot action across the country in 2020 and 2021. Video clips are available on Twitter @JeremyReporter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.