Donald Trump rioters are 'terrorists' – not calling them out is a slap in the face for BLM
Donald Trump rioters stunned the world as they invaded the Capitol building this week. But for Black Lives Matter activist Aniyah Vines, the scenes were difficult to witness.
The 20-year-old tragically lost her cousin Delrawn Smalls in 2016 after he was killed by off-duty policeman, Wayne Isaacs, in New York, during a road rage encounter. The officer was initially charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. But he was acquitted on all charges and is still employed by the NYPD to this day.
Heartbroken, Howard University student Aniyah started campaigning for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The epitome of white privilege
After watching violent Donald Trump rioters smash windows and wave confederate flags at Capitol Hill, she accurately describes the riot as a "terrorist attack". "It's the epitome of white privilege," she tells me – and Aniyah is correct. What would have happened if the attempted coup had been staged by people colour?
Remembering how protestors were treated during the BLM marches last year, Aniyah tells me: "There were major differences regarding how people were dealt with while trying to overtake a federal building versus protesting on behalf of black people that were murdered."
She points out that there was little to no force used on Trump's far-right supporters when they broke into the Capitol. However, when people were participating in the Black Lives Matter protests, they were met with pepper spray, rubber bullets, tasers, teargas, dogs, and "indescribable force".
"The media is trying to put this summer's peaceful protests and this ridiculous coup in the same category, but it is not," Aniyah continues. "For those who chose to look the other way in 2020, the terrorist attack on the capital shows who America truly protects and serves."
An assault on democracy
When news broke of George Floyd's murder last year, Aniyah "felt like I had lost another family member." She tells me: "I knew I had to take to the streets.
"What stood out was that many people didn't know each other before this summer, but the desire to fight against the injustice within our nation has brought countless people together. We will be bonded forever."
But after watching the horrific scenes at Capital Hill, Aniyah knows the fight is far from over. Not only was it a clear assault on democracy, but it once again exposed America as a deeply divided nation.
Donald Trump rioters are not protestors
Aniyah also takes umbrage with those who are calling the Donald Trump supporters "protestors" instead of "terrorists". She describes it as a "slap in the face" to those who have continued to demand justice for black and brown communities.
This was something that President-elect himself, Joe Biden, commented on in his remarks from Delaware during the riots. He said: "They weren’t protesters – don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple."
For activists like Aniyah, the events are not indicative of the current state of America, rather, they simply expose a country that has "been this way since the founding fathers".
She tells me: "It only broadcasted a fact that we have known forever. It is not the action of the citizen that will be deemed as criminal. It's the race of the citizen that will be deemed as criminal."
A moment of hope
But despite the anger she felt this week, Aniyah also experienced a moment of hope. On Tuesday, she travelled to Georgia to support the Senate runoff election. It resulted in the projected election of Raphael Warnock, who will be the first African-American to represent the state in the US Senate.
"To me, being a true activist means being able to assess what is needed to better the black and brown community," she tells me. "At that moment, it was to drive ten hours to Georgia, and help secure these Senate positions – so that’s what I did!"
It was "phenomenal", she continues, detailing her work at the voting polls, and the speeches she delivered at the rallies. Aniyah even got to personally meet the senator-elect.
"It was such an important moment in history," she continues. "We have already come out in record numbers for the presidential election. But I knew we needed all hands on deck to bring the voters out again."
The BLM movement continues
Aniyah's efforts to uplift the brown and black communities of America is only just beginning, however. Last year, she founded The Live Movement – a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) coalition that advocates on behalf of black education.
The student successfully staged a sit-in in front of the US department of education. This bravely involved her and her team sleeping outside the building for eight consecutive days. The need and importance of such protests cannot be overestimated.
She concludes: "For us to achieve true freedom, we must be given opportunities. Opportunities that would otherwise be denied because of our race and socioeconomic standing. We need the opportunity to acquire jobs that give us salaries above the poverty line. We also need education that has not been whitewashed."
"But to start off gently, we must stop being murdered by law enforcement because of the colour of our skin."