“Final night time demonstrators who have been a part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter signal and actually burned it on the street,” wrote Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, in a public statement. “The signal burning was captured on Twitter. It pained me to see our title, Asbury, in flames. For me it was harking back to cross burnings.”
The attacks occurred on the end result of an evening stuffed with assaults and confrontations with each counter-protesters and police by the individuals in the earlier “March for Trump” organized by “Cease the Steal” teams, however populated by Proud Boys, “Three %” militiamen, and different far-right teams who dominated the violence that adopted within the streets that night.
The primary vandalization occurred at Asbury, one of many metropolis’s oldest African American church buildings. A bunch of Proud Boys tore down the church’s massive Black Lives Matter banner and carried it into the streets, parading it as a trophy.
Ultimately, a cluster of them set the banner aflame on the street, dousing it with liquid gasoline. The boys chanted, “Fuck antifa!” and the white nationalist dogwhistle, “Uhuru!”
Later, one other group of Proud Boys have been seen on video vandalizing the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, one other historic African American church that had erected a number of BLM indicators. The boys tore down the indicators and destroyed them.
Two different church buildings, Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and Luther Place Memorial Church, reportedly additionally suffered injury throughout the demonstration, in accordance with Metro D.C. police. Officers advised reporters all 4 incidents have been being investigated as hate crimes, however declined to say whether or not any arrests had been made within the circumstances.
As Cassie Miller of the Southern Poverty Law Heart famous, a number of of the Proud Boys wore shirts that have been variations on commonplace Proud Boys garb that indicated additional affiliations with violent white supremacist and fascist actions. Notably, a number of of the boys seen burning the BLM banner wore shirts with the acronym “RWDS,” which stands for “Proper Wing Loss of life Squad,” a meme first popularized by white nationalists on web platforms comparable to Reddit.
One Proud Boy was noticed by journalist Chad Loder sporting an RWDS shirt that primarily featured a fascist image on the chest, together with the letters “6MWE”—for “6 Million Wasn’t Sufficient,” a reference to the estimated numbers of Jews killed within the Holocaust. The identical man wore a death-skull “Siege” mask favored by the followers of neo-Nazi figure James Mason.
Such masks and others—notably branded Proud Boys and American flag kerchief masks—have change into frequent sights at far-right occasions in recent times, manifesting how readily the teams pushing the politics of intimidation will abandon their very own myths. In the earliest phases of the continuing confrontations between far-right road brawlers and antifascists in 2017, it was frequent to listen to the Proud Boys and their white nationalist cohorts jeer at masked antifascists, calling them “cowards” for hiding their faces.
It was a hypocritical taunt since there already have been various masked far-right rioters partaking in that violence even then. Now the masks should not solely commonplace however nearly de rigeur among the many far-right protest crowds.
Equally, one of many road brawlers’ favourite speaking factors, each to media and amongst themselves, is the assumption that they don’t instigate violence or have interaction in property injury and burning. As an alternative, they argue, as Patriot Prayer chief Joey Gibson usually claims, that their opponents are the violent ones: “They’ve brought on riots, they’ve confronted the police, they’ve bodily assaulted individuals, they’ve broken property, they’ve set fireplace, they’ve finished all these issues and, but, conservatives simply don’t are inclined to roll that approach,” he told one reporter.
The fact is that far-right street-brawling teams have always rolled that way. Furthermore, no matter what crimes will be laid on the doorstep of antifascist and anti-police brutality protesters, hate crimes should not amongst them.
Furthermore, the context of those specific hate crimes is essential. As Cassie Miller explains:
Black church buildings have traditionally been one of many key organizing areas within the Black freedom wrestle and have subsequently lengthy been topic to racist assaults. They signify Black autonomy—one thing considered as particularly threatening within the midst of the civil rights motion of the 1950s and 1960s. Church buildings have been bombed and set on fireplace all through the period, together with in 1963 when Klansmen bombed the 16th Avenue Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and killed 4 younger women.
Rev. Mills noticed that what made the assaults on the church buildings particularly disturbing is the response from regulation enforcement on the scene, and by main politicians afterwards:
Sadly, we should level out that if this was a marauding group of males of coloration going by way of our metropolis, and destroying property, they’d have been adopted and arrested. We’re particularly alarmed that this violence is just not being denounced on the highest ranges of our nation and as a substitute the leaders of this motion are being invited to the White Home.