Rachel Dobkin, Staff Writer |
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a federal lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and former U.S. Attorney General Rudy Giuliani for inciting the U.S. capitol riots.
On Feb. 16 in Washington D.C., the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, accusing Trump and Giuliani, along with the Proud Boys (a far-right, neo-fascist and male-only white nationalist organization) and Oath Keepers (a far-right anti-government militia organization), of “inciting a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election,” according to an article written by the NAACP.
Plaintiff Thompson states in the lawsuit that the Capitol riot was in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 which was “intended to protect against conspiracies, through violence and intimidation that sought to prevent Members of Congress from discharging their official duties.”
The lawsuit includes details of how each defendant contributed to the Capitol riots. Quotes from Trump and Giuliani at the “Save America” rally gave a case as to how both defendants incited violence on the Capital.
Giuliani said that he was “going to find criminality” and “prove this election was stolen,” according to Article II of the lawsuit.
Article I of the lawsuit states that a leader of the Oath Keepers, Thomas Caldwell, sent out a Facebook message telling members that “gathering on January 6 would be a call to arms.” Article II of the lawsuit states the words of Trump at the rally, “‘…we are going to the capitol, and we are going to try and give…our Republicans…the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.’”
The Proud Boys then inflicted violence at the Capitol after hearing the words from Trump and Giuliani. “…Members of the Defendant Proud Boys descended on the Capitol…overcoming the Capitol Police officers stationed there to repel any insurrection on the Capitol,” according to Article III of the lawsuit.
This incitement of violence was used to disrupt Congress from approving the count of votes cast by members of the electoral college in an effort to change the results of the election from a Biden victory to a Trump victory.
The NAACP sees this as more than a violent riot, but also as an attack on the Black vote. According to the article they released, “The coup attempt was a coordinated, months-long attempt to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise millions of ballots that were legally cast by African-American voters.”
Dr. Robert Compton, Chairperson of the Africana and Latino Studies department and political science professor at SUNY Oneonta, touched on this concept of the disenfranchisement of African American voters. He said, “In the US, people of color often vote for the Democratic Party. Those who support the Republican Party know this and try to make processes and laws which make it more difficult to vote. Given that African-Americans tend to, in a large majority, vote for Biden, to negate the results is the height of voter suppression and that’s what happened at the Capitol.
But the motives for voter prevention go further than wanting a specific party to win and can be rooted in white supremacy.
Compton said, “Quite a few people, myself included, point to cases and evidence which suggest that both formally (e.g., ID requirements) and informally (e.g., intimidating rhetoric), there are some Republicans who want to suppress African-American turnout in voting for cultural, ideological, and economic reasons. Underlying this is the preservation of their privileges and status, often race-related. By extension, this links directly to white supremacy.”
Thompson and the NAACP hope to stop further violence and get compensation for this injustice as stated in the “Prayer For Relief” section of the lawsuit.