COMMENTARY: The “Vanilla ISIS” attack on the Capitol surprised many people, but not Black Folk.

HAWK NEWSOME President, Black Lives Matter Greater NY | 1/14/2021, midnight
My father had a saying that was somewhat sarcastic and he used it when I had to learn a lesson ...
Protective fencing up at the US Capitol, several days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

Hawk Newsome

Linda Cheriyan photo

Hawk Newsome

My father had a saying that was somewhat sarcastic and he used it when I had to learn a lesson the hard way. I would go to him for counsel after I made an avoidable mistake and he would look me squarely in the face and say, “I could’ve told you that.”

On Jan. 6, white supremacists violently attacked America’s capital. Many people were surprised by how violent they were, But Black folk could’ve told you that they were violent. If that word of our people wasn’t enough then you should’ve heeded the warnings issued by the FBI and Homeland Security in September of 2020. In fact, most of the terrorist attacks since 9/11 have been carried out by white men. It is no secret that the biggest threat to our national security are right wing extremists who embody white supremacist ideals. Actually, these same types of people have terrorized our people for centuries, but now it is of great concern because white people see them as a threat. That is where the surprise lies.

The storming of the capitol by a large group of Trump supporters came as a “shock” to the Capitol Police. Could you imagine that the people who are charged with protecting the most powerful people and buildings in the nation’s capital were caught off guard? What if it was an international terrorist group like ISIS instead of the white supremacist terrorists that we’ve deemed “Vanilla ISIS.” We watched on television and social media as this angry raging mob stormed the capitol. 

We expected military tanks to be in front of the building and rows of heavily armed soldiers standing at the ready to stop the threat. Surprisingly (to white people) the military was not there in the way that they were during Black Lives Matter marches. That never happened, but we did see capital police roll out the red carpet for protesters. We saw police officers opening barriers and allowing this angry mob to approach a building where the most powerful politicians in the country were at work. At the front door we saw Vanilla ISIS attack police with pepper spray, fire extinguishers, sticks, spears and whatever else they could use. Several of them had firearms on their person and others had explosives. These are the same people who sided with the police when they killed innocent Black people. They always screamed “Back The Blue,” but they were supporting the oppression of our people and not the police. These people murdered a police officer, however, you don’t hear politicians on the news saying that they will prosecute everyone who touched that officer. This comes as no surprise to Black people.

Yes, there were officers who fought them, but they used what could be described as minimal force. You should keep in mind that the FBI is investigating to find off-duty police officers that participated in the Vanilla ISIS raid. Yet again, no surprise to Black people.

I have seen police fracture skulls and pummel protesters for not moving out of streets fast enough. I have been tear gassed, pepper sprayed and had assault rifles pointed at me by police for less than what Vanilla ISIS did. This leads many to the conclusion that the police did not want to hurt white people, and that is a racist act. We also know that many of those police are Trump supporting white supremacists and they wanted this to happen. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that officers at the highest levels of the Capitol Police wanted the capitol to be invaded. The Proud Boys promoted this event on social media as the “Million Gun March.” The same group that assaulted Black women and clashed with other activists in Washington, D.C. in months prior. The same groups who’s leader was arrested the day before the capitol invasion for stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter banner in Washington, D.C. weeks before at the last Proud Boys march. Their violent ways are no secret to anyone. 

Supporters of Donald Trump traveled from across the country for a “Revolution” and to “Stop the steal” by any means necessary. At the rally that preceded the invasion, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani spewed what could be interpreted by the United States Supreme Court as Fighting Words that are not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Black folk knew that Donald Trump and his supporters are dangerous. White America did not know that Trump and Vanilla ISIS would turn on them.

It would be a gross mischaracterization to assume that the people who orchestrated and carried out the invasion of the capitol were toothless, uneducated, rednecks. Gini Thomas, lobbyist, is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She cheered on Vanilla ISIS even after people began dying. Other professional who have since been fired from their jobs include a real estate agent, a former state representative, an adjunct professor, numerous military veterans, an attorney, and many more will follow. We know that they are intelligent, we know that they are hateful, we know that they are proud gun owners, we know that they are capable of anything.

We are a forgiving people, but you stay tough when you see them arrested, pulled from planes, fired from jobs, and crying and denying like infants. Remember, that members of Vanilla ISIS are calling for armed protests at state capitols across the nation on Jan. 16. They are also calling for an armed “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20, which is inauguration day. They really are planning to overthrow the government. These people see the writing on the wall. The white supremacist reign of America is coming to an end. They will do anything to stop it, and that includes hurting Brothers and Sisters. You all stay alert and stay ready. Don’t let them catch you by surprise.

Hawk Newsome is chair of Black Lives Matter Greater NY. iamHawkNewsome@gmail.com