It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and for several hours now countless mostly white, mostly male pro-gun, anti-gun control activists have been marching throughout the streets of Richmond, Virginia, claiming to merely be exercising their Second Amendment rights. Many appear to be dressed in military garb, including camouflage, masks, and donning various types of firearms over their shoulders or at their side.
Some Virginians have been so concerned about the possibility of violence that Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned guns from the capitol. His ban survived a state supreme court challenge. Some say the ban does not appear to have been enforced.
Thousands are marching, including some white nationalists, far-right militia members, anti-government extremists, and neo-Nazis. As NBC News reports, members of some of those groups from across the country have been planning on attending.
To get a sense of scale here’s a photo from an ABC reporter:
Crowd from above at the Richmond 2A protest @ABC7News
— Caroline Patrickis (@Cpatrickis) January 20, 2020
Many online noted the reception from pro-gun advocates might be far different if the activists were Black instead of white, given the nation’s history – and that of Virginia.
The Virginia Mercury’s Ned Oliver posted this video at 7:35 AM:
Here’s a line of heavily armed rally attendees outside the VA Capitol pic.twitter.com/ze2ZUYf0SR
— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) January 20, 2020
One social media user asked, “Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns?”
Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns? https://t.co/aI9fwe6nTi
— Pariah Carey (@weekend3warrior) January 20, 2020
Government ethics expert Walter Shaub offers this insight.
Imagine how Fox News would cover this if these guys weren’t white. Imagine what Trump would tweet. Imagine how much danger they’d be in. But these guys are allowed to silence counter protesters by showing up armed to the teeth after some of their allies have threatened violence. https://t.co/scmDaodgku
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 20, 2020
Days ago President Trump essentially endorsed the rally in a tweet and then did so again minutes ago.
The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
Some are asking questions like, “Imagine if Black folks just decided to have a ‘gun rally’ like this.”
Take a look at these responses from social media users.
There's a mob of white folks walking around the streets of Virginia with assault rifles, MAGA hats and trump flags and nobody seems to care, nor think anything bad can possibly come from this.
Imagine if Black folks just decided to have a "gun rally" like this.
— Skoob 🇵🇦🇯🇲 (@TheKidSkoob) January 20, 2020
Imagine if a large group of black men with assault weapons and ski masks were marching in the VA capital.
The privilege on display here is really something.
— Kathmandu🦅💚 (@Kathmandu513) January 20, 2020
— CrazyLikeATiger (@groundedsince87) January 20, 2020
I’m only leaving my apartment for the gym today and already the amount of confederate flag shit I’m seeing for these guns rights people is ridiculous. I’m only commenting so gun nuts will stop the dishonest framing of this issue as an act to protect Black people.
— AdenWare (@AdenWare) January 20, 2020
Imagine if a group of black people lined up outside the capitol with guns 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/EGzgwj2deH
— Terrence Everett (@IB_terrence) January 20, 2020
Don’t use MLK or any minority groups to promote your fear message. You all know damn well if those were majority black men with their military-grade guns protesting out there, it would be a different story. #VirginiaRally
— mariah loves wonho 🇭🇰 (@ohnoitsmariah__) January 20, 2020
In the 1960s, when the Black Panthers were the ones carrying guns, Republicans were much more sympathetic to gun control. A total coincidence I’m sure. https://t.co/7ELwGC6hmD
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) January 20, 2020
that history here https://t.co/uuJFOkmUjN
— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 20, 2020
What’s happening in Richmond today is not only scary but also underscores that the cruelty is the point. If they just wanted to advance an argument on gun rights, they wouldn’t do it on #MLKDay. The miss being able to openly terrify people, especially black people. #richmondrally https://t.co/Koc8EYoRit
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) January 20, 2020
Image: Screenshot via Twitter
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Watch: NBC Reporter Urges ‘Come to Jesus Moment’ for Media in Wake of Colorado Springs Anti-LGBTQ Mass Shooting
NBC News’ senior reporter Ben Collins is calling for media outlets to have a “come to Jesus moment” – a dose of reality in order to make a major change – in the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub, Club Q, that left five people dead. A clip of his segment is going viral, with many agreeing the media needs to do a better job.
On MSNBC Tuesday morning, Collins, who covers what he calls the “dystopia beat,” meaning extremism, noted he’s been reporting on far-right extremism and its attacks on the LGBTQ community for months, apparently suggesting his articles were a warning.
“I do you want to say though, am I doing something wrong here?” Collins asked rhetorically, as if to suggest another anti-LGBTQ mass shooting hate crime had only been a matter of time.
“Here are some headlines that I wrote the last six months,” he said, reading them off.
“‘Fueled by parents far right machine anti-LGBTQ threats shut down trans rights and drag events.’ Remember,” Collins said after his voice initially appeared to crack, “there was a drag event happening to Colorado,” at Club Q the night of the mass shooting.
“‘Anti-trans stalkers at Kiwi Farms,’ which is an anti-trans website that stalks people, ‘are chasing one victim around the world. Their list of targets is growing,’ – that was a couple months ago,” Collins added.
“‘Doctors under threat from far right activists for providing trans care.’ ‘Boston Children’s Hospital faces bomb threat after right-wing harassment campaign’ – there were three of those bomb threats. ‘FBI charges Massachusetts woman with Boston Children’s Hospital bomb threats’ – so they found one of the people. ‘At least 20 Republican politicians have claimed that schools are making accommodations for students who identify as cats.’ That was before the midterms.”
“Here are three more from my colleagues in the last three weeks,” Collins continued, reading those headlines. “‘As election nears some conservative groups have ramped up anti-trans campaign ads.’ ‘Far right figures appear to be testing Twitter’s boundaries for anti-LGBTQ speech.’ ‘GOP senator targets Tiktok influencer with anti-transgender taunt.'”
After reading the headlines, Collins posed the question important for all journalists.
“And I’m just wondering, what could I have done different? Seriously, as reporters what can we do different? Because there are five dead people in a strip mall – because that was the only place they felt safe, as gay or trans people in this town in Colorado Springs.”
“And I am trying to thread this needle here. I’m trying to say that this is happening. This targeted stuff has real life impacts,” he continued.
“And I’m going to fail by the way, I’m going to freak out because it’s happening. Because I wake up and I see that there are five dead bodies. But I think we have to have a come to Jesus moment here, as reporters. Are we more afraid of being on Breitbart for saying that trans people deserve to be alive? Or are we more afraid of the dead people? Because I’m more afraid of the dead people. I don’t want to wake up on a Sunday and see that all these headlines came to fruition.”
On Twitter Collins says this is “an inflection point in this country right now, specifically for reporters.”
I talked this morning about an inflection point in this country right now, specifically for reporters:
What are you more afraid of? Being on Breitbart for saying that trans people deserve to be alive?
Or are you more afraid of waking up to the news of more dead people? pic.twitter.com/1B4FqNrZSQ
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) November 22, 2022
Saying, “Thank you, Ben Collins,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), commented: “Reporters & media outlets have a responsibility not to lend fuel to dangerous political attacks on vulnerable minorities—including by stories like recent pieces by Reuters & the NYT that deliberately stoke fears & misconceptions about transgender kids.”
Watch the Collins’ clip above, the full MSNBC segment below, or both at this link.
Anti-LGBTQ Congressman for Colorado Springs Deluged With Angry Responses Over Club Q Tweet That Doesn’t Say Gay
Sunday afternoon U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) posted a tweet about the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in his district and didn’t mention anything about the victims or that it was a crime of hate. He’s received so many angry responses he turned off responses.
Congressman Lamborn, first elected in 2006 after serving eight years in the state Senate, has a long history of anti-LGBTQ actions and a few racist ones as well.
“I am saddened to hear of the senseless loss of life in the shooting last night. Law enforcement and first responders are to be commended for their rapid response. All people should pray for the victims and their families,” Rep. Lamborn tweeted. He posted the exact same message to Facebook, and received similarly angry responses. Lamborn also issued the exact same statement as a press release.
Nothing in his tweet mentioned it was (even at that time) likely an anti-LGBTQ attack, nothing about the name of the nightclub, no support for the LGBTQ community in his district or across the country. Not even any mention that the patrons and not police were the ones who subdued the gunman.
His tweet doesn’t even mention it was a mass shooting and that it took place in his district. It was a tweet so generic it could be used for any shooting that takes place any night of the week anywhere in the country.
Many of the responses noted that Congressman Lamborn recently voted against a House bill to protect marriages of same-sex couples should the Supreme Court strike down rulings like Obergefell. Others noted he once called for PBS to be defunded after of a gay cartoon character’s wedding.
Rep. Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs, once tried to defund PBS because of a gay wedding plot on the children’s TV show Arthur https://t.co/Qzi8H7MVpZ
— Gillian Branstetter (@GBBranstetter) November 20, 2022
Michael Aaron, the publisher and editor of QSaltLake Magazine tweeted that Rep. Lamborn “co-sponsored the natl anti-drag story hour bill, sponsored a bill to defund PBS over a gay rat wedding, voted against Respect for Marriage bill, opposes gun control.”
Lamborn indeed is a co-sponsor of the “Stop the Sexualization of Children” bill, which falsely characterizes drag queen story hours across the country as “sexually-oriented events.”
Lamborn has a long anti-LGBTQ history. In 2012 ThinkProgress published a report on “The 7 Most Anti-Gay U.S. Representatives.” Lamborn made the list.
“Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), a third-term Republican who came under fire for racially insensitive comments that associating with President Obama was like “touching a tar-baby.”
Earlier this year Lamborn was chastised by Jewish leaders for an inaccurate and insensitive tweet about Easter and Passover.
See some of the responses below or at this link.
You need to look inward and stop spreading hate. pic.twitter.com/q6pMp2cJDV
— Thee Nikki 💛🐝 (@NikkiBrinksCO) November 20, 2022
You contribute to the climate that leads people to commit senseless acts like this. Your anti-lgbtq bigotry inspires these people, which makes the whole ‘thoughts and prayers’ even more hollow than all the other times you have no more to offer.
— link122 (@link12213) November 20, 2022
Your words mean nothing—specifically because both your words and deeds gives permission for bigots to target LGBTQ+ people. Your own hatred is the cause for these deadly attacks.
— David Lytle (@davitydave) November 20, 2022
good try doug! it was actually 2 customers of the club that stopped the shooter. also pretty cool that even lauren boebert directly says she’s praying for the victims and you can’t manage that. what do you represent exactly? cause it’s obviously not the people in colorado springs
— the blasto (rat very fied) 🐀 (@blastomisty) November 20, 2022
Over and over again you try to prevent the LGBTQ+ community from having rights, dignity and safety. Your words are pathetically hallow. pic.twitter.com/aw6BIMJyjO
— Jess P. (@Jessnj4554) November 20, 2022
‘Blood on Your Hands’: Critics Blast Boebert for Spreading Anti-LGBTQ Hate and Lies After Club Q Mass Shooting
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is being highly criticized for her role in spreading anti-LGBTQ hate and lies after this weekend’s horrific anti-LGBTQ mass shooting in her home state of Colorado, which left dead five patrons of a nightclub that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, and another 25 injured.
Without mentioning any details, including that this was apparently a targeted attack on the LGBTQ community, Sunday morning Congresswoman Boebert tweeted: “The news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers. This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.”
Among those criticizing the Republican Colorado gun-toting Congresswoman were U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chasten Buttigieg, husband of the Secretary of Transportation, to name just a few.
“Not only is Boebert blindly pro-gun, she has also spread vicious, dangerous lies that LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. are ‘grooming’ children,” Rolling Stone reports. “A report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Human Rights Campaign found that Boebert was the third most influential Twitter account in the U.S. that spread the harmful and false ‘groomer narrative.’ Her GOP colleague, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, was ranked number one. Meanwhile, hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have been rising in areas of the U.S. and internationally. Experts have been warning that increases in anti-LGBTQ hate speech online can be seen as calls to action for extremists and extremist groups.”
Rep. Boebert won re-election by just 554 votes only after her Democratic challenger conceded to avoid spending taxpayer funds for a recount.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) blasted Boebert, tweeting, “you have played a major role in elevating anti-LGBT+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies while spending your time in Congress blocking even the most common sense gun safety laws. You don’t get to ‘thoughts and prayers’ your way out of this. Look inward and change.”
The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill posted screenshots of Boebert’s attacks on the LGBTQ community.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 20, 2022
Journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile focused on Congresswoman Boebert and her allies Sunday evening.
“MAGA out in force, apoplectic at being told lord and savior Trump, & his henchman — DESantis, Kari Lake, Matt Walsh, Boebert, Greg Abbott, on & on — are responsible for inspiring the shooter at the Q nightclub in Colorado Springs,” he tweeted. “They’re furious, because they’re all guilty.”
Chasten Buttigieg put the blame at Boebert’s feet, tweeting: “You encourage this type of hatred. Get off Twitter and start looking inward.”
Kate Kendell, the former Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) had just three words for Boebert: “You did this.”
Democratic state Rep. Brian Sims of Pennsylvania responded to Boebert’s tweet, saying: “If you think for even one single moment that the entire nation, and all of the LGBTQ+ people in this country, don’t know that you, your rhetoric, your bigotry, and your hatred incited this attack, think again. You are an accomplice to these murders.”
Many accused Boebert of having blood on her hands.
“Lauren Boebert pushes the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric which encouraged the tragic violence in Colorado Springs last night,” tweeted Democratic strategist Jack Cocchiarella. “Boebert has blood on her hands.”
Colorado Democratic state Rep Brianna Titone urged Boebert to “resign,” tweeting: “Thanks for the ‘thoughts and prayers’ but that does nothing to offset the damage that you directly did to incite these kinds of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. You spreading tropes and insults contributed to the hatred for us. There’s blood on your hands.”
Retired U.S. Air Force colonel, attorney, and former administrative law judge Moe Davis told Boebert, “Thoughts and prayers can’t wash the blood off your hands when violence explodes after you chose to strike the match and light the fuse. There’s nothing patriotic or American about domestic terrorism or those who enable it.”
Progressive communications strategist Dante Atkins: “Boebert, DeSantis, and the entire right wing have been fomenting anti-gay violence, specifically at drag shows, for years. The blood is on their hands. They may as well have loaded the guns themselves.”
Equality California political director Tom Temprano did not hold back his rage, tweeting screenshots of some of her anti-LGBTQ posts and a very strong response.
— Tom Temprano (@tomtemprano) November 20, 2022
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