As social media posts from the Capitol Hill siege are continuously analyzed, more and more of the rioters are being identified and arrested for their participation. Most recently, a Black female security guard was detained, but not because she was involved in the insurrection. According to Atlanta Black Star, 28-year-old Ashanti Smith was arrested for punching a white Trump supporter in what she claims was an act of self-defense.
“I recently was assaulted, attacked and harassed by a group of Trump supporters on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C. on January 5th, 2021,” she wrote in a statement. “A video has surfaced where I was surrounded by a group of Trump extremists, and I honestly feared for my life.”
Video of the incident shows Smith striking a white woman after she attempted to steal her phone. The punch resulted in her assault at the hands of multiple people around her. Smith was dragged, pushed and hit with pepper spray as officers tried to dissolve the crowd.
“People shoved me, tried to take my phone and keys, yelled racial epithets at me, and tried to remove my mask,” the security guard explained in her account of the incident. “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.”
Therese Duke — Smith’s would-be burglar — was later identified after the suspect’s daughter, Sarah Duke, called her out for her involvement in the violence. “Hi mom, remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent...this you?” Sarah tweeted after the altercation.
Smith — who has been relieved her duties as a security guard amid an ongoing investigation — is now facing assault charges as a result of the incident and has started a GoFundMe to raise money for an attorney and the accompanying legal fees.