Say it Louder This is the American that Black people know
Cori Bush is the first Black Lives Matter activists elected to Congress. She represents Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in the House.
My skin burned for 22 hours after I was pepper-sprayed. The memory of that burn stung with a new kind of pain on Wednesday as I, now a newly sworn-in member of Congress, watched in horror and disbelief as an insurrectionist mob overran the Capitol.
Back in July, we had been protesting at the police station in Florissant, Mo., where a police officer had recently run over a Black man with his car. The police had been beating protesters for weeks. They tear-gassed us to the point of suffocation for painting “Black Lives Matter” on a road, arrested us for putting our fists in the air and beat those who they’d taken into custody.
That night was no different from any other night. The officers rushed out of the station in riot gear, slapping their batons against their shields, holding shotguns loaded with rubber bullets and chanting commands. They chased us into the middle of the street, forcing us to backpedal blindly in the dark. The police were pushing with such force that people began falling to the ground all around me, finding themselves swarmed by officers who began hitting them with batons. I reached in to try to pull a woman away to safety.
They sprayed us with mace. It wasn’t your average mace, either. I used every trick in the book to try to make the pain stop — milk, water, dish detergent. But my skin did not stop burning for 22 hours.
On Wednesday, as I sat in the House gallery listening to my colleagues debate the certification of the electoral college votes, something prompted me to get up and leave. I left the chamber and quickly went to check on what was happening outside. The doors were locked, but as I stood on the second floor of the Capitol and looked out through windows in the doors, I could see Trump flags and Confederate flags gradually moving closer. I froze in disbelief. The next minute, my staffer was rushing me back to my office.
Once I was in my office and we secured the door, I felt a different kind of burn — this time inside. Watching on TV, we saw white supremacists stroll past Capitol Police, untouched and unscathed. Just minutes after we had locked our door, the mob entered the House Rotunda. The rioters broke windows, sat in the House speaker’s office and invaded the Senate floor.
There was no way to avoid the comparison or to duck the obvious answer: Would this have happened if the rioters were there to fight for Black lives rather than white supremacy? We’ve been tear-gassed for much less, beaten for much less and shot at for much less. We’ve been assaulted by law enforcement for much less.
Read the story on Washington Post
Speaking Of… The broken system that allowed white rioters to walk away from the scene of the crime
Last summer, as racial justice protests broke out around the country, Houston lawyer Brenda DeRouen told me she couldn’t just stand by as hundreds of nonviolent marchers were arrested and detained in her city. DeRouen’s firm agreed to defend about 20 protesters pro bono, including protesters arrested for trespassing after police herded them onto private property, and helped organize a brigade of pro bono lawyers to represent other marchers. Within weeks, the Houston district attorney dropped charges against more than 600 demonstrators who, in DeRouen’s view, never should have been arrested in the first place.
Last week, most of the rioters who broke down police barricades and stormed the U.S. Capitol were permitted to leave the building without being arrested, based on photographs and videos of their exit from the building. At least seven of the rioters who appeared in viral photographs of the storming of the Capitol – including a shirtless “Qanon shaman” draped in furs, an Arkansas man who posted a photo of himself seated in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and a Trump-hatted Florida man who mugged for cameras as he left the building carrying a Congressional lectern – have since been arrested and charged. In all, according to Reuters, about 20 alleged rioters are now facing federal charges. At least 40 more have been charged with lesser crimes in the District of Columbia.
Prosecutors and the FBI have said they are continuing to investigate the riot, which left five dead, including a member of the U.S. Capitol Police. The chief of the Capitol Police, who announced his resignation after last week’s events, said in a Jan. 7 statement that his department did not foresee the violence and that his officers were simply overwhelmed. "The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities," the statement said. "But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior."
DeRoeun watched the Capitol Hill debacle last Wednesday night on television. And as she witnessed white rioters walk freely out of the Capitol – many raising their hands or waving their fists in celebration – she said she thought about the hundreds of peaceful Houston protesters who were handcuffed and locked up last summer.
What she saw, she told me, was exactly the systemic racial inequality that drove Black protesters and their supporters to the streets.
Read the story on Reuters
More of This Hold all the Trump lawyers accountable for what they’ve done
Prominent lawyers who helped fuel Donald Trump’s baseless charges of election fraud to try and thwart Joe Biden’s win, are now facing potentially serious legal and financial problems of their own tied to their aggressive echoing of Trump’s false election claims, say former Department of Justice lawyers and legal experts.
They include a federal investigation into the Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob, possible disbarment and a defamation lawsuit.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who led Trump’s conspiratorial drive to overturn the election and gave an incendiary talk to the Trump rally right before the march on the Capitol began, could be ensnared in a federal investigation of the attack and is facing a disbarment complaint in New York.
Pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Cleta Mitchell have, respectively, been hit with a defamation lawsuit for making false claims, and losing her law firm post after coming under scrutiny for her work promoting Trump’s false claims.
“I never saw allegations of misconduct that I think are as seriously unethical as the conduct of lawyers who have been propounding the false claims of President Trump,” said Mary McCord, who led the DoJ’s national security division at the end of the Obama administration until May 2017, and also served for six years on the DC Circuit’s Grievance Committee.
Read the story on The Guardian
More of This Too Thousands of law students demand disbarment of Sens. Hawley and Cruz
More than 7,300 law school alumni and students have signed a petition calling for the disbarment of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) over what it says were their “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.”
Hawley and Cruz led efforts in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to stop the counting of electoral votes certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Trump in the November election.
Critics are accusing the senators of using rhetoric that helped inflame a pro-Trump mob that engaged in acts of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as the vote-counting was underway. Both have rejected the accusations.
But alumni and students of the law schools that the men attended — Cruz is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Hawley of Yale Law School — and others have signed a petition over the past two days urging the Texas, Missouri and Washington bars to “immediately begin disbarment proceedings” against the two senators.
The petition (see text below), started by seven third-year Yale law students, had garnered more than 10,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, two of the organizers said.
Signatories include more than 2,500 members of the Washington D.C., Missouri, and Texas bars, the petition’s organizers said. Among those who signed are former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Harvard Law professors Laurence Tribe and Michael Klarman, as well as retired appeals court judge H. Lee Sarokin and former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter.
The Yale Law School students who started it, including Daniel Ki and Jenny Choi, said they decided to do because they did not think condemnation of Hawley and Cruz was enough.
“The senators’ actions to undermine democracy by spreading false claims of voter fraud and inciting insurrection violated the ethical and professional obligations of all members of the bar, and as aspiring lawyers, we thought it was important to speak up,” Ki said in an email.
Read the story on Washington Post
Perspective In all the chaos, don’t forget the injustice Jacob Black suffered at the hands of a weak prosecutor
Paul Butler is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. A former trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice, he is the author of "Chokehold: Policing Black Men.
This week, another prosecutor used the power of his office to demonstrate that Black suspects have no rights that the police are bound to respect. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that no officers would be prosecuted for shooting Jacob Blake seven times.
If you are trying to remember exactly which Black man targeted by the police last year Jacob Blake is, I feel you. He is not George Floyd, asphyxiated by the Minneapolis police in May. He is not Rayshard Brooks, who in June was gunned down by Atlanta cops in a Wendy’s parking lot. He is not Daniel Prude, who stopped breathing two minutes after Rochester, N.Y., police put him in a spit hood last March.
Compared with those men, Blake is lucky. He survived his police violence. But Blake, who was shot in his back and sides, is paralyzed from the waist down and probably will never walk again.
According to the prosecutor, that’s basically Blake’s own fault. At his news conference, the district attorney was in full “blame the victim” mode. One could be forgiven for thinking that Blake was the person under investigation, rather than Rusten Sheskey, the White officer who did the shooting.
Read the story on Washington Post
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