Beau of the Fifth Column
If armed militia groups are going to give themselves permission to “police” local Black Lives Matter demonstrations, as they did in downtown Elizabethtown on June 6, I think it’s important to know a little more about them.
One of the groups in Elizabethtown — the Carlisle Light Infantry — claims to be the direct descendant of the Carlisle Light Infantry that marched with George Washington against the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania and fought for the Union in the Civil War.
The other, now calling itself the Domestic Terrorism Response Organization, identified itself as “Anti ANTIFA” on a newly created Facebook page June 1, but changed to Domestic Terrorism Response Organization shortly after President Donald Trump declared the loosely organized American anti-fascist movement to be a domestic terror group.
The president’s attempt to avoid addressing concerns about police brutality expressed across the country failed miserably. Under U.S. law, the federal government can only “deem entities terrorists and impose sanctions on them” if they’re from another country, according to The New York Times on June 10.
Elizabethtown police Chief Edward Cunningham told LNP | LancasterOnline that he “became aware” on the night of June 5 that some shop owners had arranged their own security, but said he didn’t invite the militia groups or approve their plans. Apparently, borough Councilman Bill Troutman didn’t either. Nearly a week later, he was still demanding to know “who put those people on the roof,” according to LNP | LancasterOnline.
One gunman told LNP | LancasterOnline his name is Niels Norby Jr. and stated “I was there to protect everybody” — store owners, police and protesters.
The Domestic Terrorism Response Organization members present in Elizabethtown apparently offered no explanation for their presence there. “Anti-antifa” — a name it previously used on Facebook — is a term that has been coined by and linked to some white supremacist groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Carlisle Light Infantry, in its modern incarnation, describes itself on its website (carlislelightinfantry.com) as “the living, breathing, operational element of the 2nd Amendment as defined by the signers of the constitution of the United States as ‘a well regulated militia.’ ”
Asserting to be the revitalized progeny of the Colonial-era Carlisle militia, the current leaders explain on their website why they had to get the unit back up and running. Following are direct and unedited quotes: “We live in a time where we as citizens are apprehensive, even afraid of our uniformed officers. We’re doubtful and suspicious of our local elected officials. We’re convinced that our leaders do not have our best interests, our families and livelihoods, in mind as they make decisions that effect every aspect of our daily lives. We live in a time when our open arms to the world and it’s many peoples and cultures invites risk and harm to our own. We therefore live in a time where it’s our personal and civic duty to stand up for what’s right, and protect what matters most.”
Despite its assertion that “we do not, and will not, discriminate against anyone,” there is not one black or brown face in the several group photos posted its website. Put all of that together and you come up with what sounds to me like another white nationalist group intent on imposing its jaundiced view of 21st-century American society on communities (as it did in Elizabethtown on June 6), whether we ask for it or not.
Shocking as it is to view photos of these people brandishing their weapons on the rooftops of downtown Elizabethtown, it really is nothing new. Militia members essentially threatened to lynch Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month to express their displeasure with restrictions imposed to protect them from the deadly coronavirus.
But they go much further back than that. I met these disaffected Americans years ago when I was reporting in Michigan, Indiana and upstate New York. Like the Carlisle group, they called themselves “real” patriots. Those I met had lost faith in this country and its institutions, including the political system, the police and the military. Like the Carlisle Light Infantry, those militia members lived in fear; for them it was fear of a one-world government, secret messages on the back of road signs and black helicopters on the horizon.
For the Carlisle Light Infantry, it’s — in my view — fear of people of color, immigrants, diversity and a world not dominated by white people.
I felt sad talking to those militia groups back then, and the same sadness washes over me as I listen to these militia groups today. Their members seem so desperate that they’re willing to take up arms against their fellow citizens.
Back then, I tended to write these folks off as an insignificant splinter of the American body politic. But I don’t think we can ignore them anymore. They have a president who seemingly encourages them to take the law into their own hands and who shows no signs of understanding the traumatic experiences of any Americans, black or white.
Notice that today’s militia members seemingly express no sense of identifying with the struggle for racial equality and justice now sweeping across our country. It was a peaceful desire to support Black Lives Matter that triggered the protest in Elizabethtown on June 6. But the Domestic Terrorism Response Organization and the Carlisle Light Infantry didn’t come for that. They stood with trigger fingers at the ready — an intimidating, self-appointed presence — apparently prepared to take out anyone who crossed whatever lines they drew for acceptable behavior during a demonstration against police brutality.
Although the Carlisle Light Infantry puts in a lot of time drilling, these members are not trained police officers. Thank God the day did not end in tragedy. But the challenge posed by these groups did not end at sundown in Elizabethtown. A civil society cannot allow violence or the threat of violence to usurp the rule of law.
These are tragically disappointed people, gripped by fear and a mindset that will lead to nothing good. We must invite them back into the community dialogue now — for their sake and ours. There’s no better time than the present.
For students of color, guns in classrooms could be deadly.
How long would it be, if Trump’s plan became reality, before a teacher shoots a black student and then invokes the “I feared for my life” defense
.. Most high-profile mass shootings have been committed by white men, but metal detectors, school police and armed guards are disproportionately placed in public schools with majority black and other nonwhite students, along with locked gates, random sweeps, and a host of other surveillance and security measures to maintain control in their schools
.. Research shows that such practices foster hostile environments that have contributed to racial disparities in school suspensions, expulsions and arrests leading to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” by pushing more students of color out of school and into the juvenile justice system.
.. black students were disproportionately likely to be referred to school resource officers or arrested — they made up 16 percent of total enrollment but 27 percent of students referred to resource officers and 31 percent of students arrested in school-related matters.
.. White students, who were 51 percent of the total, accounted for only 41 percent of resource officer referrals and 39 percent of arrests.
.. “implicit bias” on the part of teachers often means young black males in schools are seen as “irresponsible, dishonest and dangerous.”
.. many teachers, especially young white women, are afraid of their black students.
.. white students are punished differently from their black counterparts for the same offenses.
.. “By playing into this armed teacher agenda, we are setting up our at-risk students, especially our black and brown students, as targets for the pipeline as well as actual physical targets of teachers’ bullets. It is insanity driven by greed, prejudice and privilege.”
.. “arming white teachers would be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. In many cases, the little cultural nuances in black kids are often foreign to white teachers.
.. Black assertiveness is seen as black hostility to white teachers, as opposed to the teachers recognizing that it is a strength in the black student.
.. I fear that when black students stand up for themselves, white teachers will interpret that as the students attacking them.”
.. Davis also fears that any black or Latino teachers who carry weapons to “protect” students would wind up being shot by police during an active-shooter crisis in their schools.
.. Twitter, they used the #ArmMeWith hashtag to list more important priorities:
- smaller classrooms,
- improved textbooks,
- adequate supplies and
- more resources for students with challenges.
.. This is about protecting the narrative that white suburban schools are places of safety and preserving the idea that violence is elsewhere, that black and Latino youth represent danger.
.. “My biggest fear and disappointment is that I think many students and families of color would simply opt out of public education if arming teachers were to be enacted,”
.. The fear would be absolutely legitimate, but disengagement would further divide us so much further. It would lead to a setback like never before in the movements for civil rights and human rights.”