Is Trump’s Jan. 6 indictment justice for Black voters?

“This indictment is a blow against all those people who would see our votes undermined and see our voices discounted,” said Svante Myrick, president and CEO of People For the American Way.

As the nation watches the historic indictment of former President Donald Trump for his role in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, civil rights leaders say the federal government’s case against him is justice for Black voters.

In the days after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential contest, Trump and his associates challenged the vote counts in key battleground states where Black voters made the difference, from Georgia and Michigan to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Nevada Republican volunteer recruiting event at Fervent: A Calvary Chapel on July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas. Trump is the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination amid a growing field of candidates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“It is not an accident that Donald Trump was trying to invalidate Black votes,” said Svante Myrick, president and CEO of People For the American Way. “He knew that overwhelmingly Black voters had voted against him and for President Biden.”

Myrick, who helped lead a rally in Washington, D.C., ahead of Trump’s courthouse arraignment on Thursday, told theGrio that Trump was trying to “disenfranchise all voters by throwing out the electoral results, but particularly Black and brown voters.”

The civil rights leader noted the fact that one of the four counts against Trump is a conspiracy to violate civil rights under a statute used to protect election integrity for marginalized groups.

“This indictment is a blow against all those people who would see our votes undermined and see our voices discounted,” added Myrick.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told theGrio that Trump’s indictment in trying to invalidate the will of Black voters feels particularly good because “we’ve seen in the past where Black voters can be…either attempted or successfully violated and suppressed, and there are no repercussions.”

He continued: “It’s particularly vindication for Black voters that were at the heart of his efforts, because …what we have to keep in mind is he really wasn’t trying to overturn all the votes of Georgia, he really just found the Black votes to be the ones that were the ones that were illegitimate.”

A protester displays a sign outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Court House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. Members of a grand Jury met to examine former President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riot and effort to overturn the 2020 election. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said Trump not being charged for his role in the Jan. 6 attack would have set a dangerous precedent.

“If this is supposed to be a country where the rule of law matters, then I think him not being charged for what happened on Jan. 6 would have been a travesty for this country and for democracy,” Campbell told theGrio. 

Though Trump, the likely 2024 Republican presidential nominee, is now facing three separate criminal cases, it won’t stop him from taking back the White House if elected next November. Constitutionally, he could still serve as president and would likely pardon himself of any federal crimes. Civil rights leaders say this only raises the stakes going into next year’s election. 

“He’s proven that he would do anything for power,” said Campbell. 

Having the power of the presidency to protect himself from his legal troubles “seems to be the only reason he’s running,” said Myrick, who noted that in his campaign speeches, Trump doesn’t talk about many policy positions but rather his “own personal grievances.”

“This should serve as not only a wake-up call to Republican voters in the primary but to all voters,” he added.

Albright noted that in addition to pardoning himself, Trump could continue his “onslaught against Black communities” and democracy at large. He added, “He’s basically said he’s going to purge the government.”

This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows President Donald Trump recording a video statement on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, from the Rose Garden, displayed at a hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo credit: House Select Committee via AP, File)

“Black voters are going to understand how high those stakes are, in spite of whatever ambivalence there may be for a Joe Biden reelection,” said Albright.

“At the end of the day, this is not a referendum on Joe Biden. This is a choice between the current president and the former president and respective of Black voters, that’s a clear choice.”

As Trump forges ahead with his litany of criminal charges, there remains the question of whether he could incite more violence – particularly if he were to lose again in the 2024 election.

Campbell said that, in her opinion, the former president “never stopped trying” even after the violent and deadly event of the Jan. 6 insurrection. “I think that’s been a consistent message coming from him,” she told theGrio. 

Albright said Trump being sent back to the White House would “be vindication and a green light to do everything he’s already done and more.”

Myrick noted that during Trump’s presidency, there was “more political violence, incitements, riots than at any time in our lifetimes, or frankly…many lifetimes here in America.”

While he and fellow leaders are concerned about more political violence, Myrick said he is more concerned about what would happen if Trump was to actually win on Nov. 5, 2024.

“What if he’s able to carry out the plot that [Special Counsel] Jack Smith is alleging he intended, which was to install his own fake electors, let the major cities riot, and then send in the military to quell them, using the Insurrection Act,” warned Myrick.

“This could lead to a true civil war,” he continued. “I think it’s too dangerous a candidate to even consider supporting.”

Myrick added, “It’s up to the Republican primary voters at this point.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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