County GOP chair condemns Capitol violence, likens it to BLM ‘riots’

Albany County GOP

From Albany County GOP

ALBANY COUNTY — While the county’s GOP chairman condemns the violence at the United States Capitol last week, he also likens it to the violence at Black Lives Matter protests over the last year.

“A peaceful protest is one thing, but attacking people and stuff, we don’t condone that. It’s not something that we would do,” Randy Bashwinger told The Enterprise this week.

His comment echoes a post made by the county GOP on Facebook a day after the riots, which condemned the violence, but not without spreading the blame across the aisle.

“It’s disgusting,” Bashwinger told The Enterprise on Tuesday. “All the Left wants to do is bitch and complain about how people went down and rioted, but where were they for eight or nine months when all the rioting and shit was going on, burning cities down?” 

He was referring to the highly partisan Black Lives Matter protests that began last summer after a Black man, George Floyd, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes after a report was made that Floyd had used counterfeit currency at a convenience store. 

Because of the destruction and death that surrounded some of the Black Lives Matter riots and the Capitol Hill riot, they’ve become a common comparison among conservatives who wonder — mostly rhetorically, as Bashwinger did — why their tribe is being attacked for the pro-Trump riot when the same people who attack them (progressives, by and large) were apologists when a Target in Minneapolis went up in flames, among other incidents. 

One commenter on the Albany County GOP page by the name Darlene Lee mimicked the slogans BLM protesters and supporters have used in reference to unarmed Black people who’ve been killed by law enforcement as she referred to the death of an unarmed Capitol rioter, Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed by a police officer as she attempted to lead a charge through a broken door-window.

“Ashli Babbit, an unarmed woman was shot and killed in the people’s house,” Lee wrote. “Say her name.” 

Four other people died during or as a result of the Jan. 6 riot: a Capitol police officer who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher, and three people who suffered medical emergencies. 

Meanwhile, during the Black Lives Matter protests, which spanned months and took place across the country, between a dozen and 19 people were killed, according to PolitiFact, which weighed in on the matter last August, before the protests had died down, and before 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two BLM protestors

“Black Lives Matter protests attract not only BLM members but supporters and opponents,” PolitiFact wrote, “making it difficult to assign blame to BLM for particular incidents.”

According to data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, reported by The Guardian last October, at least 25 Americans had been killed during protests and political unrest by that point, though the count was not specific to the Black Lives Matter protests. The data, according to ACLED, does not include “criminal violence,” which the group defines as a violence “motivated by personal or purely criminal motives,” regardless of their proximity to a political event.

Using the same data, The Guardian reported that, of the more than 9,000 protests that related to the Black Lives Matter movement, the “vast majority” were peaceful.

 

No county GOP bus

Disinformation, like that which drove the rioters at the U.S. Capitol this week — — the false claim that the presidential election was “stolen” — has also pestered Bashwinger since that historic day.

Bashwinger didn’t sound pleased when asked on Tuesday about the bus full of pro-Trump protestors that his organization allegedly sent down to Washington, D.C., his tone indicating that he’s spent some time now setting the record straight.

“Let me stop you right there. The county [GOP] did not send the buses down. Period; that’s it,” Bashwinger told The Enterprise.

Bashwinger said that the committee used Facebook to advertise tickets — $65 each — to get on a bus rented by private citizens, none of whom held a position in the regional organization. 

“It got passed around that the Republicans were sponsoring the bus — we didn’t sponsor the bus,” Bashwinger said. “It was individuals paying for it. Nobody from the county GOP committee ... went down. It was all done by private people.”

While a casual observer of the county GOP’s Facebook page could be forgiven for thinking that the tickets for the bus were being handed out by the committee itself based on the Jan. 4 advertisement, which listed an email for a woman named Valerie without explaining who she was (“Some woman from Saratoga,” Bashwinger told The Enterprise), it’s true that rumors were spreading. 

From residents of Berne, where Bashwinger is chairman of that town’s GOP committee, and a controversial figure for his political influence and Trump-like strategies, The Enterprise heard this past week false accounts of Bashwinger renting a van and driving people to D.C., still absent days later, inviting questions about participation in the storming of the Capitol. 

But Bashwinger wasn’t involved at all, he said, and the reality of the trip was more mundane for those who were.

Bashwinger said that he spoke with someone on the bus, who told him that the local group was on its way back when news started spreading that the Capitol was being overrun.

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