We often think of fascism in terms of Hitler, Mussolini–overtly racist and violent people who want to take over the state–as something that has never happened in America but is close to happening now. In reality, the authoritarian police state many people now fear has been the status quo for Black people in America for centuries.

While people are right to be upset and afraid it is important to remember that the use of political violence and over policing is nothing new, it’s something that is woven into the very fabric of America; it’s as American as apple pie. It’s just not the America white people are used to. Yet it is the only America Black people have ever known.

The kind of police tactics used at J20 weren’t new, it’s the kind of policing done in the overwhelmingly Black 7th District east of the river everyday. In the 7th District, white police officers like Vincent Altieri (Badge #4440) wear overtly white supremacist tee-shirts over their uniforms while they illegally harass and brutalize Black people. They have been seen in court with tee-shirts that brazenly glorify jump-outs and have the sun cross, a popular white supremacist symbol, prominently displayed. This is the type, nature and ideology of policing of Black communities in the district.

Now, MPD has been using the blank check of fascist white supremacy given to them by the administration to use things like Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments to export the militarized policing used in Black communities throughout the entire district.

They’ve already been coming for Black people and most of DC has done nothing. When they started coming for immigrants and Muslims, most of DC was still silent. But now that they are coming for anyone looking at, reporting on or just around protest, you cannot afford to continue your silence. We have to hold the people responsible accountable and at the top of that list is Police Chief Peter Newsham. Newsham was in charge of oversight and compliance on the consent agreement with the DOJ to curb D.C’s rampant police brutality in the 90’s. He refused to implement all the requirements of the agreements, allowing MPD to slide back into it old, brutal ways. Now as police chief, Newsham is taking his habit of brutalize first, justify later, to streets of downtown D.C.

As long as Peter Newsham is allowed to continue his reign of brutality, Black people will not be safe in our communities.

As long as Mayor Bowser refuses to take steps to make D.C a real sanctuary city, immigrants and Muslim residents, especially Black immigrants and Black Muslims, will not be safe.

As long as MPD can weaponize hate and political violence in the district as they did on J20, our democracy will continue to be a sham, not only for Black people but for all residents of the district.

Therefore Black Lives Matter D.C stands in solidarity with all J20 defendants. We recognize their fight is our fight. Their struggle is our struggle. We can only win, when we move forward together. An injury to one is an injury to all. Solidarity, now and forever.

Contact: blacklivesmatterdmv@gmail.com