Riot Gear (#313)

I’ve been to marches, protests, and candlelight vigils. Sometimes the police are also in attendance. At the super white, super suburban Women’s March, all the cops wore affable smiles. Some even sported pink hats.

At BLM protests? Lines of police show up in riot gear, generally sparking the following chant:

I don’t see no riot here!
Why are you in riot gear?!

Yesterday, on January 6, 2021, there was an actual riot. Encouraged by the sitting President (and whiny sore loser baby), Trump’s fascist cult broke into the Capitol, trespassing, stealing, and vandalizing.

I watched it unfold on Twitter, NPR, CNN, and NBC News.

I saw no cops in riot gear.


Today, I’m watching all my white people on Facebook clutch their pearls. “I can’t believe this happened!” they moan, adding sad emojis, prayerful emojis, shocked emojis.

Really? Trumpers have been discussing this for months. They had merchandise declaring their treasonous intent. Trump and his Congressional wingmen have fed Republicans the myth of a stolen election since before the votes were even counted. Trumpers’ social media feeds showed them flying to DC, discussing their plans to riot.

And there were no lines of police in riot gear.


White social media is still echoing President-Elect Joe Biden’s claim that “This is not who we are!

The fuck it isn’t. This is clearly who 70 million of us are. Maybe not everyone who voted for Trump was personally prepared to storm the Capitol in a fit of pique, but they all believed that a lying, cheating, misogynist, racist, narcissist, fascist, brazenly cruel, homicidal white man who has spent his entire life flouting every law possible would be okay as President. That alone is an indictment of both our educational system and our white culture. If you believe in a man who doesn’t believe he should follow the law, then you don’t really believe in law and order.

And still there were no police in riot gear.


My fellow white Americans are currently screaming their heads off about how we need “unity.” I hear it on the news. I see it in the comments on Facebook. I just got a damned email about a school contest with prizes for “Visions of Unity.”


As in, just ignore that seditious mob. Don’t prosecute Trump or any of his people for the most corrupt Cabinet in history or their looting of tax payer funds. Ignore the obstructions of justice. Forget about the negligent homicide that will kill at least half-million Americans.

Let me answer that call for unity with all the respect it deserves: “FUCK YOU NO.”

Unity is not more important than justice. In fact, I’d say that American History has proven that unity is impossible without justice.

There was no justice meted out to the traitors after the Civil War. There was no apology to those who were enslaved. No amends were made. There was no universal American reckoning with the genocide we perpetrated. Compare that with Germany, who apologized for WWII and the Holocaust, outlawed the swastika, and swore, “Never again.”

Instead, the USA allowed its citizens to glorify the Lost Cause. It let them put up statues of traitors and fly the traitors’ flag. There were no consequences, no justice, because “unity” was more important. And what happened? White folks, unfettered by even the smallest consequence, oppressed Black Americans in thousands of ways. They suppressed their votes, stole their property, and lynched them.

This should surprise no one. As any non-shitty parent of a toddler will tell you, that’s what a lack of any consistent consequence does. It creates an environment of privilege, one where the rules do not apply to your offspring. Children learn this fast.

The United States currently exemplifies a lack of consequences. The white men who created the Great Recession? Exactly one of them went to jail. Election doesn’t go your way? Throw a gigantic hissy fit and toss in some vandalism and treason. And don’t worry about showing your crimes on your social media feed—it’s not like you’re one of the hundreds of Black Americans arrested for protesting police killings.

Trump is the poster child of no consequences. Goes bankrupt repeatedly? Loan him more money!  Worst boss ever? Give him a TV show for firing people. Praises bloody dictators? Make him your President!

Had Trump gotten actual consequences (i.e., been convicted by the Senate when he was impeached), the storming of the Capitol would never have occurred. But Senators such as Susan Collins said Trump, “learned a pretty big lesson” and gave him a final pass to do whatever the hell he wanted.

Now 363,000 Americans are dead. The country, like the Capitol, is in shambles.

So give me justice, not “unity.”

And the next time the white fascists try to fuck with the certification of a fair election?

Give me lines of police in riot gear.

Photo by Rich Riggins

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

28 thoughts on “Riot Gear (#313)”

  1. There’s no excuse for having voted for Trump, not in 2016, not in 2020. Anyone who was paying attention would have known that he was a racist and a misogynist, xenophobic, incompetent, and a narcissist. We knew that he liked violence if he could talk someone else into doing it for him. His history showed that he was loyal only to himself. I could go on and on. All of this was obvious. No one should have been surprised by what has happened this week.

    People who voted for him can be forgiven, but only if they confess and change. And even then, they will carry the shame for the rest of their lives.

    Unity (or at least getting along) is important, but justice is absolutely necessary. When Biden says, “This is not who we are,” I translate it as, “This is not who we aspire to be.”

    And don’t forget courage. Race is a big part of our problem, but don’t forget how toxic it has been to be afraid to go against the guy in power.

    1. I agree with both of you. Regarding the POTUS’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, some would even argue that they should have been suspended or terminated a long time ago for continually unleashing falsehood, misinformation and mass distrust. Fortunately, he has not (yet) been given free access to software or button(s) with which to launch weapon(s) of mass destruction.

      In any case, those who are fair-minded and discerning are not easily swayed by his constant thrashing around and beating in the bush. Speaking of whether “the president really is a very stable genius”, SoundEagle’s adage is that Trump is a fool’s idea of a genius. In addition, the POTUS has long slid from being a “Law and Order” President to a “Flaw and Border” President.

      I have given a very stern and stark warning about what the end result will be in the final paragraph of my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” at

      It is all a big mess!

      1. I guess we just need more fair-minded and discerning folk. One of the elements to the coup attempt that makes me so angry is that we were FINALLY getting more women and BIPOC in the halls of power–and that’s when the white people came storming in. Not a coincidence. I think of those explosive and zip ties and I shudder.

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  2. Bravo! Love your fiery passion and the way you’ve channeled it.

    And I agree with Behind The Story’s assessment of Biden’s comment. It may be who we are now, but it’s not our final epitaph, either.

  3. 100%. When Biden and everyone else say, “This is not who we are,” my immediate response is, “Yes it is.” Although I must say I was still shocked by how easily the Capitol Police were overrun. I thought that group had more pride.

    My South African and German friends are shocked when I tell them it’s not illegal to fly/carry a Confederate flag in America. The old South African flag carries the exact same message/connotation and it’s been banned since 1994.

    1. Yeah. Right now there are rampant rumors and various cell phone videos about how many cops may have aided the right wing mob. But there is also video of officers getting hit with pepper spray. How much of it was deliberate and how much of it was incompetence is already being investigated. Police Chief is already resigning after Pelosi called for him to be fired (and rightly so).

      DC has always been a jurisdictional nightmare for law enforcement. Wouldn’t happen if it were an actual state, but that would mean more representation for Black Americans in Congress…and Republicans can’t have that. Not even if it might have saved them from an unruly mob.

      1. I just listened to the Daily and it also shed some light on how this happened for me. It sounds like to some extent the DC mayor and DC police also didn’t want such a huge federal police presence, due to the backlash from all the terrible events that happened during the protests in June, and hence did not ask for a lot of backup. So it was a combination of the federal government not pushing for it and the DC government also not pushing for it. No matter what, the blame is squarely on Trump and all the mistrust and chaos he’s created.

  4. Hear, hear! You said it: “Unity is not more important than justice.” I agree.

    I’m not on FB but I can imagine the dismay. If you didn’t know this mob was coming and that there is systemic injustice in our country based on race, then you must be an ostrich with your head in the sand. Fake outrage and shocked surprise don’t cut it with me.

    1. What I hear and see from various friends of friends and relatives of relatives by marriage is that so many white people simply cannot accept/empathize with injustice unless they experience it personally.

      It’s easy for some folks to explain away police brutality with “well, he must have done something to deserve it, because it never happened to ME,” the same way they blame sexual assault on the victim.

      And now, of course, the right is feeding them lies about how all these treasonous white people who live-streamed their attack weren’t really at fault. They “were infiltrated by BLM and Antifa” (the very folks the white supremacist fascists would have killed or strung up in the noose they brought if they’d been foolish enough to attend).

      1. It’s fascinating to me the depths of denial among many white people. I’m white, personally familiar with injustice, and able to see people for who they are. But many of my “peers” are clueless. They drink the Fox News kool-aid by the gallon.

  5. Autumn!! You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a standing ovation. I 110% agree with everything in this post. The police had already set a low bar for me, but after the events at the capitol, the bar (somehow) went even lower.

    “There was no justice meted out to the traitors after the Civil War. There was no apology to those who were enslaved. No amends were made. There was no universal American reckoning with the genocide we perpetrated.” THIS. This is the crux of America’s racism and despicable treatment of blacks. This is where everything went wrong — and it’s sad that we are letting history repeat itself.

    Nancy Pelosi is gearing up the charge to get Trump removed from the cabinet. One can only hope that history doesn’t repeat itself, and we actually dish out justice this time. Sadly, however, a part of me knows that they will give the entitled white man (Trump) a slap on the wrist and tell him to be a better boy next time (aka, pardon himself). Ridiculous.

    The day of the riots, a coworker told me that Trump is not to blame for this — it’s the fault of the individual. Some people just don’t get it.

    1. Thank you! I know a lot of folks want to see immediate justice, or at least the white traitors responsible perp walked out of their affluent neighborhoods, but I believe in Pelosi’s political acumen. She’s going to let pressure build on pro-Trump MOCs over the weekend, because she’s only got one shot at impeachment and conviction. It may not succeed, but it’ll get those Trumpers on the record as coup supporters. That will make for some excellent footage for their future opponents during the next campaign.

      No one is going to change the minds of the hardcore Trumper fascists. But what I am seeing is horrified white Republicans now finally saying, “Oh, no! That’s too much! I don’t support that!” Which is not the same as being smart enough to have seen it 5 years ago (and maddening!), but may convince those who staked their political fortunes on Trump to finally jump ship.

      While I do believe the individual is responsible for his own actions, there is a whole industry built on right-wing fascism. Starting with Fox News. And it needs to die.

  6. Just this morning, I drove past a construction site. There was a big ass pick-up truck there. The kind with oversized tires that aren’t necessary on city streets with two humongous flags. One for trump and the other the US flag. I was appalled. Today. Even now, his supporters don’t get it. If that was my construction company I would ban displays like that.

    1. Right? There’s a whole industry out here built on convincing folks we need more homes (even though we have millions sitting empty). Very powerful lobbying arm, which has allowed construction to be considered “essential” during COVID. It’s not helping with our rising infection rate, but they’re Trumpers and they don’t care.

  7. I concur (movie reference) with your assessment AA! I feel like the nation is the frog, and white nationalism/science deniers/groupthink/years of education underfunding is the pot & water. 74+ million Americans voted for Trump in 2020… so we have a lot of reconciliation ahead of us, if we as a nation will improve.

    Many, many people need to re-examine their thought processes, figure out WTH is going on inside their cranium, and what they can do to fix it so they can become fellow citizens.

    I can only hope this correction lasts longer than the Reconstruction era. May we learn from history since there are so many bad examples to not repeat, ever.

    1. Education, oh, so important and yet so fraught. There are pros and cons to localized control over education in the US. It has enabled the white supremacist version of the Civil War to become accepted fact in the majority of the Southern states. Yet it also allows/ demands that Harvey Milk receive his due in California textbooks, thanks to the Fair Act. And local control did limit the damage DeVos could do in many states– but only in terms of textbooks, not Trans rights or women’s rights.

      Ultimately, you’re right. The answer is work. A lot of hard questions, and a lot of hard work. There is no easy fix to the deeply entrenched racism in our culture and institutions. But we have Stacey Abrams and Georgia to serve as proof that with hard work and boots on the ground, change is possible.

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