By now the widely shared video of a Black woman security officer defending herself after she was hit by one of the angry pro-Trump extremists on Jan. 6, has made its rounds on social media.
But the story behind the incident and the aftermath which has sorely affected the life of Ashanti Smith, the security guard, highlights another example of how punishment is swiftly handed down for Black people in comparison to how violent white extremists are coddled.
In the video, a white woman behind Smith attempts to reach over to grab Smith’s phone, resulting in hitting her. After Smith strikes the woman, a man violently pushes her, and three other men drag her to the police line. As the angry mob continues to harass Smith, a woman comes from behind and pushes her into the police resulting in more violence. Smith is caught in the crowd who continues to push and is hit with pepper spray as police attempt to disarm the crowd.
The woman who pushed Smith was identified as Anne Lorenz and was charged with assault along with Smith.
Smith recently launched a GoFundMe and after she was placed on leave from her job due to the video’s popularity on the internet. So far supporters have donated over $94,000 so that she can stay afloat with her bills and legal fees. In a description for the fundraiser Smith tells her side of what took place in Washington D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Plaza where scores of the mob assembled inciting violence.
“The video makes me look like I am the aggressor, but it does not show what happened prior to my defending myself. People shoved me, tried to take my phone and keys, yelled racial epithets at me, and tried to remove my mask. I asked them to social distance and stay out of my personal space due to COVID 19. They refused, and I was afraid of being hurt and harmed. After being assaulted, I defended myself. I am now facing criminal charges along with being relieved from my employment pending an investigation.”
“They didn’t have masks, said Smith. “They proceed to try to take my mask off of my face. I was on Instagram live just to protect myself and also show everyone what was going on.”
In a serious plot twist, the daughter of the woman who assaulted Smith decided to reveal her mother’s identity, who Newsweek confirmed is named Therese Duke.
18-year-old Massachusetts teen Helena Duke responded to a widely circulated video of the incident with, “hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent…this you?” She followed it up with photos proving that Duke is indeed her mom.
Duke told the New York Post she was made aware of her mother’s whereabouts after she saw the video on social media.
“She didn’t give me any more information about it, she was very vague … When I found out about the Capitol being stormed, I looked at her location sharing and it had been off for two days, so I assumed in that moment, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she might actually be there,” she said.
“And then the next day, my cousin shared a video of her getting punched in the face … by police after harassing them.”
“Her actions were appalling and I did not think she could possibly stoop this low,” the 18-year-old told Newsweek. “I do find her participation in the insurrection extremely hypocritical as she has kicked me out of the house for attending BLM protests.”