|Ali (Akbar) Alexander mugshots|
Yesterday's "Stop the Steal" protest, which has roots in Alabama, devolved into a riot -- with Donald Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, leading to four deaths and numerous injuries. It should not have been a surprise, given the sketchy past of protest leader Ali (Akbar) Alexander and that Trump himself has been inciting violence for months.
In fact, yesterday's Legal Schnauzer post showed "Stop the Steal" is driven largely by individuals from the right-wing fringe, suggesting the event might turn ugly. And on Tuesday evening, Akbar led protestors in a "victory or death chant" -- less than 24 hours before the event did turn ugly.
Still, many Americans probably awoke today in a state of shock. Perhaps adding to their discomfort is Akbar's out-of-touch response to the violence that transpired at a rally he organized. Consider this from a report at Newsweek:
The national organizer of "Stop the Steal," a group boosting President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the presidential election was "stolen," refused to condemn pro-Trump violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday while suggesting that outside "agitators" were really responsible.
Group national organizer Ali Alexander said that he was refusing to disavow the actions of the violent Trump supporters, who assaulted police and stormed the Capitol building as Congress was meeting to officially certify President-elect Joe Biden's presidential election victory. Instead, he bizarrely claimed that the incident was "peaceful."
"I don't disavow this," Alexander said while standing outside with the Capitol building in the background. "I do not denounce this. This is completely peaceful, looks like, so far. And there are a couple of agitators that I obviously don't endorse."
"But this is completely peaceful," he added, pointing to the building. "This is we the people."
Akbar had a later opportunity to denounce the violence, but he chose to point fingers elsewhere. Writes Newsweek's Aila Sisco:
A later tweet from Alexander suggested that "Antifa agitation" could be to blame. Although other pro-Trump conspiracy theorists have taken to social media with similar claims, no credible evidence exists to support the notion. Video shows the group storming the building while wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and carrying pro-Trump signs and flags.
Alexander's claim that the situation was "completely peaceful" was clearly false. A woman who was shot inside the building amid the chaos was reportedly later pronounced dead, while several law enforcement officers and others were injured during the rioting.
Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated claims that the election was "fraudulent" despite the violence. He praised the rioters as "great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long" in a tweet that was later deleted by Twitter, urging his supporters to "go home" but "remember this day forever."
In addition to deleting Trump's tweets for the first time ever, Twitter suspended the president's account for 12 hours over concerns that it could incite further violence, while promising to permanently ban Trump if he makes similar posts when the suspension is lifted.
Some high-profile Republicans spoke out against the violence:
Other prominent Republicans have unequivocally condemned the rioting, including former President George W. Bush and several active members of Congress. Some have announced that they reversed their plans to officially contest Biden's win due to what took place.
Biden, who is set to be inaugurated as the 46th president in two weeks, said that "democracy is under an unprecedented assault" after the rioting started, adding that a "small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness" had caused chaos that "borders on sedition."