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The Capitol Riots and a Tale of Two U.S. Government Coup Attempts

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Photo by Proulain is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

A group of white vigilantes – angry and fearful over the newly elected government – joined forces with area militias to rain terror.

After fanning false and racist beliefs that the newly elected government would promote a Black uprising, upend their way of life, endanger white women, and bring about an unfathomable new American reality in which Black men – not white – governed, white leaders pledged harm.

No, this does not describe the President Donald Trump-inspired mob that left behind so much death and destruction at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

It is a description of what the History Channel labeled as the only successful coup d’état ever in the United States.

Those actions occurred in 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and counts as a story of racial terror that had primarily been obscured from the annals of American history.

According to the History Channel, white city leaders pledged to “choke the current of the Cape Fear with carcasses” rather than allow for Black advancement.

“When the carnage ended, more than 100 Black government officials—city councilmen, the city clerk, the treasurer, the city attorney, and others—had been forced from their elected roles. Somewhere between 60 and 250 Black citizens were murdered,” History reported.

“After the coup, for which no one was ever prosecuted or punished, more than 100,000 registered Black voters fled the city. No Black citizen would again serve in public office for three-quarters of a century.”

“It is exactly what went on [Jan. 6],” pronounced Arianna Jones, a Washington, D.C. resident. 

She noted that she lives only blocks from the Capitol and saw much of the mob that rummaged through federal lawmakers’ offices and desecrated a sacred government building.

“President Trump incited his followers to attempt a coup. He wanted them to end the counting of the Electoral College votes, somehow stop [President-elect] Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Black woman, from taking control of the government,” Jones determined.

Trump and his supporters’ attempts have failed miserably and with deadly consequences.

On Sunday, Jan. 10, Capitol Police officials announced that Officer Howard Liebengood died following the insurrection. Multiple reports alleged that Liebengood, 51, committed suicide. 

Earlier, Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the riot. His death is being investigated as a homicide. 

Trump supporter Ashli Babbit, a military veteran, was shot and killed during the riot by Capitol police, and three other individuals died after suffering what authorities called “medical emergencies.” 

Trump, who has been suspended from no less than a dozen social media and other platforms, helped incite the coup attempt.

At a rally just before the riot, Trump urged his supporters to “show them you’re angry,” and that they wouldn’t be able to “take back our country with weakness.”

The President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, called for “a trial by combat” against lawmakers who were certifying the Electoral College votes.

Trump’s son warned, “we’re coming for you.”

“To those Republicans, many of which may be voting on things in the coming hours: You have an opportunity today,” Donald Trump Jr., shouted during the pre-riot rally dubbed, “Save America.”

“The whole world is watching,” Trump Jr. exclaimed. “These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months.” 

However, Democrats who now control both Congress chambers, have drafted articles of impeachment against the President.

Many in Trump’s top staff and cabinet have jumped ship, resigning out of shame by the act of domestic terrorism inspired by the President. 

And, some Republicans have pronounced that they have had enough.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told CNN that Trump should resign from office.

Toomey added that Trump could face criminal liability after the deadly insurrection. “I’m not optimistic it will happen. But I think that would be the best way forward,” Toomey stated.

Earlier, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski proclaimed, “I want him out. He has caused enough damage.”

In 1898, Wilmington officials feared the loss of white supremacy and formulated a multi-pronged strategy to retake power and strip Black citizens of their political and economic agency, the History Channel reported.

That coup worked. One hundred and twenty-two years later, Trump’s attempt miserably failed but will have lasting effects and significant consequences.

 “I’ve never seen anyone be able to breach the Capitol like this,” Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) stated. “The President of the United States incited this riot, and someone needs to go over to Pennsylvania Avenue and arrest him.”