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Right-wing protesters storm DC Capitol, Tally 19 still face charges

Commentary by Regina Joseph |
January 9, 2021
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Tallahassee, FL - I found out about the right-wing attack on the U.S. Capitol while casually scrolling through social media on my phone. It started off as one Facebook post about Mike Pence being dragged away by the Secret Service. It had no context. More information trickled, then flooded, in - “protesters stormed the capitol,” then more videos, images and of course memes - painting a picture of the most nauseating, gut-wrenching and insulting scenes. Cops taking selfies with white supremacist reactionaries. Trump supporters are in politician’s’ offices. One man joyfully flung his boot-clad feet up on House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s desk, and felt so immune that he broadcast himself doing so, live. Some of the far-right wing reactionaries even wore t-shirts that read “MAGA Civil War Jan 6, 2021”, stylized to parody the Marvel movie franchise installment titled Civil War.

They literally wore custom made t-shirts broadcasting a coup they planned and orchestrated, at the urging of President Donald J. Trump.

Trying to make sense of this situation as I scrolled endlessly on my phone. The more I scrolled, the angrier I became.

I am angry because not only did police arrest 14 people in Tallahassee on September 5, 2020 but because they continued to ambush and arrest protesters, bringing the number of those with warrants for our participation at the September 5 protest up to 19.

I am angry because my wife is facing a felony charge with ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

I clearly remember the afternoon of September 5 - across the street from the Old Capitol Building - I was arrested, along with 13 others, by hundreds of law enforcement officers clad in riot gear and equipped with military weapons and canines.

I remember holding on to my wife, surrounded by waves of dark uniforms; it was like being engulfed in a shadow. Batons flailed in the air as the police attempted to break up a peaceful protest against a grand jury decision absolving Tallahassee police officers for the murders of three Tallahassee men earlier in 2020. Police weren’t just trying to break up a single protest on September 5, they were out to hobble the growing movement for Black lives and distract from demands for community control of the police.

I remember holding my wife’s hands, the tears full in their eyes, the tiredness worn on their face and the absolute terror of it all. As our hands slipped, and dozens of others watched in horror as the police broke us up, I screamed as hard as I could, just wishing I could just...hold my wife.

I remember being scared of what would happen next.

What happened next was more police beatings, draggings, mass-arrests, forced and costly hospitalization, misgendering of arrestees, disgusting jail conditions, delayed bail processing, repressive release conditions, additional late-night follow-up arrests, and humiliating diversion offers made to some - but not all - of the #Tally19. There are two Tally19ers still facing felony charges.

Fast forward to January 6, 2021. In what seems like increasingly stranger yet less shocking days, we witnessed a moment sure to be etched in history books. As I write this, hours into an undisrupted racist, reactionary siege of the U.S. Capitol, the hypocrisy is blatant.

I am angry because multiple trucks ran into Black Lives Matter protests in Tallahassee. Yet Democrat State Attorney Jack Campbell let the drivers all go and holds firm on prosecuting BLM organizers.

I am angry because Trump’s ally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is crafting legislation to make it legal for drivers to hit and kill protesters.

We have a ‘democracy’ wherein the first Black senator in the South since Reconstruction is finally elected and then the next day, elected far-right Republicans support a literal white supremacist siege of the U.S. Capitol building.

We must demand the end of political repression faced by Black activists across the country.

From the Tallahassee 19, to the Minnesota 646: Drop all charges against those fighting for a better tomorrow in the face of police violence.

If you wish to support the Tally 19, head to our GoFundMe

Additionally, you can send a letter to Tallahassee officials to drop the charges against the Tally 19.

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