Story at a glance
- Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by Capitol Police while trespassing on federal property.
- Her supporters co-opted the "#SayHerName" campaign on social media, prompting pushback from Black activists who started the movement.
- Black women are killed by police at disproportionately higher rates than white women.
When "#SayHerName" begins trending on Twitter, it’s a painful alert that another Black woman or girl has died at the hands of police. So Black activists who started the campaign were shocked to see it trending for another reason.
Ashli Babbit, an unarmed White woman, was killed by a black police officer yesterday inside the U.S. Capitol. Say her name.— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) January 8, 2021
After a woman who stormed the Capitol Building with a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists was fatally shot by Capitol Police, supporters took to Twitter, using the words and hashtag “Say Her Name.” Identified as Ashli Babbitt, the woman was reportedly seen trying to climb through a smashed glass pane in a door to the Speaker's Lobby when she was shot by an officer. The Capitol Police officer has been placed on administrative leave with their police powers suspended pending the outcome of a joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police Department.
THE LATEST ON THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
The families of numerous Black women shot and killed by police officers are still waiting on such investigations. The African American Policy Forum and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies launched the "#SayHerName" campaign in December 2014, after the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. That year, Gabriella Nevarez, Aura Rosser, Michelle Cusseaux and Tanisha Anderson were also killed by police.
"Black women and girls as young as 7 and as old as 93 have been killed by the police, though we rarely hear their names. Knowing their names is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for lifting up their stories which in turn provides a much clearer view of the wide-ranging circumstances that make Black women’s bodies disproportionately subject to police violence," says the campaign website.
Like their male counterparts, Black women face higher rates of police violence than white women. Since 2015, nearly 250 women have been killed by police officers, according to a Washington Post database, about one-fifth of whom were Black. Only two officers were charged with manslaughter or murder in an on-duty shooting of a Black woman, one of whom was acquitted.
“None of these killings of Black women, nor the lack of accountability for them, have been widely elevated as exemplars of the systemic police brutality that is currently the focal point of mass protest and policy reform efforts,” said a 2015 report. “The failure to highlight and demand accountability for the countless Black women killed by police over the past two decades, including Eleanor Bumpurs, Tyisha Miller, LaTanya Haggerty, Margaret Mitchell, Kayla Moore, and Tarika Wilson, to name just a few among scores, leaves Black women unnamed and thus underprotected in the face of their continued vulnerability to racialized police violence.”
So when their movement was co-opted, Black activists fought to take it back, listing the names of Black women killed or victimized by police violence.
Breonna Taylor— jo #acab (@jojaacat) January 7, 2021
Atatiana Koquice Jefferson
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells
Charleena Chavon Lyles
#SayHerName is for Breonna Taylor #SayHerName is for Charleena Lyles#SayHerName is for Oluwatoyin Salau#SayHerName is for Rem'mie Fells#SayHerName is for Riah Milton#SayHerName is for Sandra Bland#SayHerName is for Atatiana Jefferson— void_healingbloc (@voidhealingbloc) January 7, 2021
say her name is for BLACK WOMEN ONLY. especially Black trans women!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/rfU4UDHoq4— (@leftistexe) January 8, 2021
READ MORE LIKE THIS FROM CHANGING AMERICA