Imagine  if  Capitol  rioters  had  been  Black-Post 1

The assault on the US Capitol by Trump supporters before the inauguration of Joe Biden has brought out the stark reality that, despite the rhetoric, some American lives matter more than others, says Baffour Ankomah.


New African Magazine

Finally, Donald J. Trump has been put out to pasture. The “end of the error” came on 20 January when Joseph Robinette Biden Jnr was sworn in as the 46th US President.

But this was an inauguration like nothing else before it. In addition to the social distancing for those invited to the event and the total absence of a crowd due to Covid-19, some 21,000 national troops were deployed around the Capitol in Washington D.C. This was four times the total number of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – and could constitute the entire armed forces of many countries.

The reason for this unprecedented level of armed protection for the incoming President was because, as we can all recall, two weeks to the day (i.e., on 6 January), a mob of Trump’s supporters had committed a near-sacrilege by storming the Capitol with the intention of “capturing and assassinating elected officials in the United States government”, according to US Justice Department prosecutors in a court filing.

How was this possible? Laurel Wamsley of the National Public Radio (NPR), writing on 15 January, made the important point that: “Washington DC is known for its multitude of law enforcement agencies – a fact reflected in the agencies involved in security on 6 January.

“The Metropolitan Police Department has jurisdiction on city streets; the US Park Police on the Ellipse where Trump’s rally took place; the US Secret Service in the vicinity of the White House; and the US Capitol Police on the Capitol complex. 

“How could security forces in the nation’s capital be so swiftly and completely overwhelmed by rioters who stated their plans openly on a range of social media sites? President Trump had even tweeted on 19 December: ‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Congressmen and women holed up fearing for their lives and in the end five people died. Imagine if that mob had been Black. What do you think would have happened? 

But the Trump mob was White! So the law enforcement guns stayed down. Some policemen even narrated to the CNN how they pleaded for their lives when caught up by the mob in the Capitol’s alleyways and nooks, telling the rioters “we have kids, we have kids” to induce sympathy so the mob would not kill them. Just imagine the space and time the police officers would have allowed the mob if they had been Black.

The thought of it took me to Prof Kwesi Kwaa Prah’s 2019 book ‘Kromantsihene – Before and After Garvey’. The book’s subtitle summarizes its contents: ‘Marcus Garvey and his Contemporaries, the ‘Back to Africa’ Movement, and the Contradictions of African Nationalism Today. We shall stay with Garvey’.

“It is now 80 years since Marcus Garvey died. He had by then passed his peak politically by about 15 years. However, his impact on the thinking of many Pan-Africanist-inclined minds remains active. Many, particularly some of the contemporary militant youth, still espouse Garvey’s pronouncements with unstinting passion and fervency. 

“This is hardly surprising, because the directness and trenchancy of Garvey’s message remains moving for those who must still live with the scourge of anti-Black racism. 

“For as long as African-Americans disproportionately fill American jails; for as long as American police continue to shoot innocent African-Americans (yes, Black Lives Matter); for as long as excessively large numbers of America’s destitute and poor are African-Americans; for as long as people of African descent continue to suffer from racist attitudes in Europe, Garvey’s message will continue to speak sympathetically to people of African descent.”

In his book, Prof Prah explains that he chose the title ‘Kromantsihene’, which means chief of Kromantsi (also spelt as Cormantin by the British), because it is generally suggested in Jamaica that Garvey was a Kromantsi. Prof Prah goes on:

“Kromantsi is an Akan coastal village in Fantiland in Ghana. It has a prominent and impressive rocky outcrop jutting out and descending dramatically into the sea.

“In the era of the slave trade, it was for periods a significant point of departure for slaves drawn from the hinterland and further afield. Many of the slaves who ended up in Jamaica left from Kromantsi and with time, the Kromantsi memory acquired a reputation for defiance, resistance, and marronage [the running away of slaves from plantations] in the Caribbean and Americas.”

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