Early Saturday, a small group gathered in Washington D.C. to express support for those trapped in a web of accountability after the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol. While this isn’t the first attempt to reframe the attack on the capitol as something other than insurrection, disregarding the low turnout event could be a mistake.
Journalist Chuck Modiano pointed out the disconnect in viewing small turnout as an indication of lack of support. Challenging Rep. Ted Lieu’s assertion to the contrary, Modiano noted several reasons for the small numbers, including white supremacist groups advising people not to go.
“We should not underestimate the fascist movement which no longer needs Trump,” tweeted Modiano.
Modiano has spent countless hours documenting protests and other incidents across the capital city, a prominent fixture on the District of Columbia’s justice beat. (Follow Modiano’s work here).
Speaking with several counter-protesters gathered, Modiano was able to spotlight perspectives generally not elevated in the mainstream media.
Sean Michael Love, founder and editor of Black House News, was on the scene and told Modiano that fascists and white supremacists could not be allowed to think they have a “foothold” in cities like D.C. (Find out more about Black House News here).
“If they’re the ones disturbing the peace of those who want to live/exist in a society that’s anti-racist, anti-fascist, if they’re here to disrupt that peace, we have to make sure we disrupt theirs and disrupt their intentions,” said Love. “We got to make sure that their attention and their attention is directed towards the counter-protesters and not the civilians.”
Part of the feeling to protect civilians like hospitality workers and homeless people stems from prior incidents of white supremacists attacking people in Washington D.C. over the past year.
“You can’t let the nation’s capital city that is majority Black, right, become a place where okay anytime while neo-nazis are coming around, we have to stay inside the house,” Love continued. “No, we should be the city that comes out whenever we want, party whenever we want, walk the streets, go to any part that we want to.”
Echoing the need to confront fascism, organizer Lexi Cali told Modiano that ignoring these events will not make them go away.
“There’s this liberal myth that when fascists like the proud boys, or the Oathkeepers, or MAGA supporters come out that we should just ignore them,” Caly said. “When people say ignore it, and it’ll go away, not only is it a lie, it removes the culpability that they have to this issue. We all have a responsibility for these social issues that are growing in our cities, because when we ignore it.”
Another local D.C. protestor described their distrust of the media and how framing anti-racist/anti-fascist protestors as a problem or on the same level as white supremacists makes them feel unsafe.
“We’re not a terrorist organization,” they explained. “We literally just want to be able to live our lives and not be attacked by actual terrorists who stormed the Capitol.”
In a comment seemingly directed at media, including outlets like the Washington Post, the protestor said leaving open-ended stories that could make it seem like anti-racist/anti-fascist are the actual problem.
“We don’t really feel safe around you,” they continued. “We don’t feel protected, and we definitely don’t feel like the truth is going to get sent out.”