Some BLM groups said they came to support the Second Amendment.
RICHMOND-It’s called Lobby Day, but very few people actually met with lawmakers in person on Monday. In Virginia, every year the General Assembly sets aside one day for people to come and push for or against certain bills. But in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the process went virtual.
And for the most part, politicians this year couldn’t meet anyway. Due to the limited 30 day schedule for this session, committee and subcommittee meetings start at 7 a.m. and don’t wrap up until 6 p.m. most days. Monday was no exception. But while lawmakers were voting on bills, other groups were out in the streets.
We highlighted elsewhere that the Boogaloo Bois, Proud Boys and other right-wing groups were out in Richmond. But they weren’t the only ones marching in support of Second Amendment rights.
“Speak Our Peace”
Members of the Black liberation militant group BLM 757 were also present and armed. Alongside them some representatives of the Black Panthers of Virginia and the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense were also carrying guns.
We have to be able to protect our family. We have to be able to make sure that my kids see the next day,” said BLM 757 leader Japhari Jones. “We’ve just come out here to speak our peace.”
Though these groups are normally at odds, members of the different organizations were strangely cordial. Members of the Proud Boys and the Boogaloo Boys raised fists in support of the BLM 757 while marching by their gathering. A leader of the Black Panthers of Virginia, General Mike Pain, said their ideologies aren’t entirely different.
“We’re not the opposite of them,” Pain said. “We’re not here to protest. [We’re] just here to enjoy the Second Amendment and make that stance that we support it.”
There were no serious confrontations between the various militia groups who were marching around the Capitol Monday.
The armed militias whose mission includes Black liberation at almost doubled the number of white supremicists demonstrating on the ground around the Capitol. However, neither side had a significant following. In total about 30 members of Black liberation militias were present. About 10 people affiliated with white supremicist organizations were on the ground around the Capitol. There were also a few dozen pro-gun rights militias with no obvious connections to either white supremacy or Black liberation.
“Joke’s on You”
However, the number of reporters covering the demonstrations far, far outnumbered the number of demonstrators. There were over a hundred journalists giving attention and legitimacy to a handful of white supremacists at any given time throughout the day.
In the words of two of the Boogaloo Bois who would not release their names, this is exactly what they were hoping for.
“I’m just trying to get on TV,” joked one Boogaloo Boi to another, as dozens of cameras flashed in their faces.
“Joke’s on them,” his friend replied.
Meg Schiffres is Dogwood’s associate editor. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.