When One Side’s Terrorist Is Another Side’s Martyr

Can we talk big-time hypocrisy? The Right has gifted martyrdom to the late Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot and killed while rioting in the Capitol January 6. These past six months they have called for the name of the law enforcement officer who shot her, but the officer was cleared of wrongdoing, and his name was not released.

Now parts of rightie media have named a name, based on their analysis of the video of the shooting. I am not going to repeat the name here, because the wider his name is known the more peril he is in. And I have no opinion as to whether the man named is the real shooter. I do have an opinion that the Justice Department was right to clear him of wrongdoing.

To review, on January 6 Ms. Babbitt was in the forefront of a port of the mob who came up against the barricaded door of the Speaker’s Lobby, a space outside the main entrance of the House chamber. Members of Congress and their staffs were escaping through the lobby at the time. Rioters shattered the glass on the doors. In the videos, you can see a law enforcement officer standing behind the doors with a gun drawn. Babbitt, with the help of other rioters, was squeezing herself through an open space to get into the lobby. You can see her in this photo; she’s wearing the striped backpack.

I am told that in some videos, security staff can be heard shouting “Get back! Get down!” I have not watched every video myself to verify that, but in this one you can hear rioters yell, “he’s got a gun.” One officer is plainly visible pointing his handgun. And as Babbitt’s head came through the window, he fired. She was struck in the neck and declared dead at the hospital.

The righties make much of the fact that Babbitt was not armed. But the security staff at that time had no way to know who was armed. And in any event, by then police all over the building were being routed and beaten up by the overwhelming force of the mob. Armed or not armed, the rioters were a clear danger to the legislators still a few feet away, either evacuating or still in the House chamber. This photo taken from within the House chamber suggests that if those doors had been broken through, more people would have been shot.

It is regretful that anyone died in that mob. But how deluded do you have to be to believe that Babbitt died “for no reason“?

The Department of Justice said of the officer who shot Babbitt:

The focus of the criminal investigation was to determine whether federal prosecutors could prove that the officer violated any federal laws, concentrating on the possible application of 18 U.S.C. § 242, a federal criminal civil rights statute. In order to establish a violation of this statute, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted willfully to deprive Ms. Babbitt of a right protected by the Constitution or other law, here the Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure. Prosecutors would have to prove not only that the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so “willfully,” which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law. As this requirement has been interpreted by the courts, evidence that an officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required under Section 242.

The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber. Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter.

I don’t know the status of the evacuation at the exact moment of the shooting, but it’s my understanding that the mob could well have gotten their hands on members of Congress if it had gotten through that door. Lawmakers Were Feet and Seconds Away From Confrontation With the Mob in the Capitol, according to a Wall Street Journal headline. And now that the mob has the name of an officer, he and his family will need to be moved to a very safe, undisclosed location. So far, none of the published articles naming his name have given his address or the names of family members, but that’s only a matter of time. Somewhere, no doubt, he is already doxxed.

It’s my understanding that the shot that killed Ashli Babbitt was the only gunshot fired in the Capitol that day. There was, of course, bear spray and tasers and many blunt objects in the hands of the mob. I’ve waded into some rightie sites today, and according to rightie lore, all of the rioters who died that day were killed by Capitol security. Beside Babbit, these are:

Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama. According to news reports, Greeson was standing with a group of Trump loyalists on the west side of the Capitol when he suffered a heart attack and fell to the sidewalk. He was talking on the phone with his wife at the time. According to righties, he had a heart attack because he was shot in the chest with rubber bullets.

Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia. Ms. Boyland was trampled by her fellow rioters, although the official cause of death was “acute amphetamine intoxication.” Even so, the New York Times “Day of Rage” video shows rioters trampling over her. According to rightie lore, the crowd ran because it was being fired on. No, it wasn’t. The crowd was not in retreat but in advance. No shots are heard. No one in that part of the crowd was shot.

The point is that a characteristic of Trump supporters is blind tribal loyalty and an inability to take personal responsibility for anythng.

Speaking of deaths, on July 6 Chris Hayes made the point that the House would have been evacuated sooner except that Rep. Paul Gosar was taking his time objecting to the ballots of his own state. If the House chamber had evacuated sooner, Ashli Babbitt might still be alive. Chris Hayes stopped short of accusing Gosar of coordinating with the mob. Hmm.

And let us not forget that abut 140 officers were injured in the defense of the Capitol. Many injuries were serious — broken ribs, smashed vertebrae, head injuries. Officer Brian Sicknick died the next day, perhaps from unrelated causes, and two other officers committed suicide in the days after the riot.

But we must remember that the mob is still out there, and still dangerous, and they think they have righteousness on their side.

See also: Philip Bump, The death of Ashli Babbitt offers the purest distillation of Donald Trump’s view of justice.

10 thoughts on “When One Side’s Terrorist Is Another Side’s Martyr

  1. Ashley Babbitt is the new Horst Wessel.

    "American Style!!!"

    And maha, there's no "hmm"-ing about KKKongressKKKritter Paul Gosar having involvement at this insurrection:  I don't think any reasonable person here in the realm of reality – as opposed to Rightie BIZZARO world – doesn't think he wasn't in up to the lighting-bolts on his SS neck insignias with tRUMP's MAGA Zombies.

    Hell, he was one of the prime speakers who opened the damn insurrection.

    And then, while his Sturmtroopers were breaking in, he "coincidentally" was the one giving a long, seeminly endless recitation of tRUMP's bullshit, tying-up the House?

    C'mon, now!

    I didn't fall-off a turnip wagon last week.

    PS: I love that turnip phrase!  How did something that weird become so commonly used?

  2. The 'smoking gun' picture is the one you found (and I have been hunting for) of the broken window from the insurgent side, barricaded with chairs, and the hand holding the gun immediately before the officer fired. 

    The picture tells it all. The window didn't break itself – the crowd trying to gain access had violent intent. By this time, cops knew from radio communications that they were under violent siege at multiple points of entry. By this time, any officer could reasonably assume that members of Congress were in imminent danger if the mob broke through. 

    IMO, the police used too much restraint on Jan 6. They have snipers on the roof, according to testimony from the US Capitol police after I made my flight.  Next time, the people in tactical gear should be the targets for snipers if a mob rushes any Capitol Building. These people do not have the stomach for a revolution, or the resources to win a revolution. They want a coup – a takeover by stealth from the inside. 

    The martyrdom if Asli Bobblehead is intended to create reluctance for cops to use force against a coup attempt. Doing serious harm to 100 DC cops probably had the opposite effect. Next time, the cops expect enough resources to manage a confrontation and permission to kick ass.

  3. At what point do these antics upset the base?  The perversions have become more and more excessive.  Only those who think Republicans always deserve the fix think this is close to fair.  

    As far as I can read the tea leaves, the religions of this country are split big time.  Those with fundamentalist bias tend Republican in general.  Even evangelicals cannot close the square on this duplicitous morality.  The black and white moralists, the modern American Manichaean moralists find this sort of claim outlandish.  

    The only way one thinks this is moral is to give deity status to he who propagates this nonsense.  Have they not been warned of false gods?  At least so far the Mormons have not accepted him as a later day saint, though some members and elders seem to be willing to elevate him to such status.  

    No moral high road exists for 1/6. It was an act of vigilante injustice at best and a mob run amok at worst.  Such an action can have no martyrs. Only just causes get to claim participants of that status.  Only moral morons would think otherwise.  


  4. She got what she deserved.  They should have draped her coffin in a Trump 2020 flag. If Trump thinks she's some kind of martyr he should erect a statue of her at Mar a Lago. Who in their right mind would even think that smashing a window in a barricaded door within the chambers of Congress and climbing through with the known intent that you're part of a party to kill the Vice President of the United States wouldn't expect to be met with armed resistance. And that's what she got. Her blood is on Trump's hands.

    I have absolutely no sympathy for any of those insurrectionists. They should all be charged with sedition even if the charges don't stick. They need to be sweated back into the realization of the nature of the offense they committed. It was a violent attack on the very foundations of our nation, and not some misguided expression of patriotism.

     I might seem extreme in my views but, our laws and our society gives us every means to express dissent and grievance without having to resort to violence. I agree that unless this spirit of rebellion against democracy isn't severely crushed its only going to fester and grow as its being stoked by that bag of shit and criminal in chief. For Trump it's all about him and his self preservation, but he's sowing discord and poison into the fabric of our nation. Don't treat it with kid gloves.

    • No, you are not extreme at all.  I would have shot the person, man or woman.

      Were the insurrectionists told that law enforcement would not shoot?

    • The insurrectionists were led to believe they'd have a free hand to do what they did.  The "man" who was President at the time urged them to do it, said he'd be with them "every step of the way."   Police officers, firefighters, attorneys, government employees, state elected officials all thought this was their "1776 moment," a Bunker Hill redux and they were there to take their part in history.  This is what they were led to believe.  

      It will be interesting to see how history treats Jan 6th if they succeed in their use of state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court in enshrining minority authoritarian rule.   


  5. Domestic terrorism. Period.

    A suicide bomber, martyred in the eyes of her fellow domestic terrorists.

    Praised (loved) by her Vanilla ISIS leader Donald Trump.

    She was not alone; her fellow terrorist mobsters demonstrated their murderous intent with her on January 6th. They all deserve arrest, trial and punishment. 

    We have been too lenient with our domestic terrorists, whether it be the white supremacists in Charlottesville, the oath keepers the Qanon delusionals, the "wokes" the cancel culturists, the critical race theorists, and all others using the threat of violence or violence to advance their goals of anger,  hatred, and marginalization (at the least) of all they consider" the others."

    Our unwillingness to stop the Trumpsters and their ilk may turn out to be the epitaph of the "experiment in democracy".


  6. The Big Lie is at the foundation.  Jan 6 wouldn't have happened had it not been for the lies Trump told, picked up by his entire party, that led many of the insurrectionists to storm the capitol, believing they had the backing of the administration and thus a free hand to do what they did.  None of them thought they could be arrested for what they were doing.

    How to destroy democracy?  Tell the Big Lie that the foundation of it, our election system is corrupt.  Repeat it over and over, to get people to believe it.  Remove all faith in our ability to hold elections.  This has already happened, and it is succeeding. This is an old story, Hitler successfully used it, so did other authoritarians throughout history. The good news is the playbook is documented, and we can counter it, IF we are willing to recognize it for what it is.

    The Big Lie was not just the ravings of a cartoonish, narcissistic lunatic, it was the intentional leading edge of a fascist plot to destroy democracy.  Ashli Babbitt, insurrectionists as "patriots," history of The 1619 Project as false, are all plot devices to further the lie to achieve the goal, a white nationalist, fascist, effective one-party state of the minority, ruling by corruption on fear and hatred, and it proceeding apace.  Why "we" don't start routinely referring to the republican party as the fascist party it clearly is, when every official of the GOP routinely make matter of fact reference to the "democrat party" as socialist, and even communist, is really missing the moment.  One we may come to bitterly regret.  We gotta stop comforting ourselves with "it can't happen here."  That somehow, the democrats will…I can't even finish that sentence.  It can happen here, and it is.

    If "we" don't start taking them more seriously, if we let them win in 2022, and their state voter suppression laws go into effect ahead of 2024, there will be no need for another capitol insurrection.  They will legally accomplish then what they failed to accomplish using the Big Lie and fear in 2020.  And the worst part of that will be, the realization that we could have done more, but didn't. Digging ourselves out of that hole will be a lot harder than fighting back now.

  7. On the topic of the insurrection one incident that I'd like to see the perpetrators get their lumps is where the cowardly assholes attacked the mainstream media ( CNN) encampment and destroyed their video equipment. What did that have to do with anything related to their supposed stopping of the steal cause? It just showed how Trump's constant denigration of mainstream media had effected the attitude of the mob to where a free press is perceived as the enemy of the people. What a shame, and to think that those assholes see themselves as patriots. It makes you realize how twisted the insurrectionists minds had become from feeding on a steady diet of Trump's lies.


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