Is NAACP and congressman right to sue Trump under 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act?


Fact Box

  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in 1909 to fight against racial injustice, and is the “largest civil rights organization in the nation” with over 2,200 units and 2 million activists. 
  • On February 13, former President Trump was acquitted in the second impeachment case, relieving him of inciting violence on Capitol Hill a month earlier. 
  • Both the NAACP and Rep. Bennie Thompson filed a lawsuit against Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers for delaying the results of the presidential election. 
  • The lawsuit accuses violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 which was intended to protect the civil rights of four million freed slaves. NAACP is saying Trump and followers “intimidated, harassed, and threatened” in order to stop the election results.

Stephanie (No)

Mississippi Senator Bennie Thompson and the NAACP are incorrect in their attempt to sue former President Trump under the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act for Capitol violence. As former senior advisor to Trump, Jason Miller, attested, the former president 'did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6th rally,' and in fact, reminded those planning to attend to act peacefully.

Trump was recently acquitted of his second impeachment, which 'focused squarely on accusations of incitement' [of violence]. If anything, Democrats such as Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and others ought to be blamed for constantly promoting violence. Yet, that did not stop Thompson from claiming that those on the right are 'intent on destroying our country,' despite the fact that Republicans are the ones attempting to defend the US Constitution, American values, and strong national security.

 The Ku Klux Klan Act's goal was to prevent future violence that could inhibit Congress members from 'carrying out their constitutional duties.' Despite any intimidation tactics that his supporters may have carried out, this did not occur on Trump's behalf. Trump was also within his right to openly complain about the election results, believing they were fraudulent.

While the plaintiffs of this case claim that the Capitol riots' goal was to 'disenfranchise' African American votes, the real reason was to protest what many have considered a stolen election. The recently filed lawsuit also failed to specify its goal: on the one hand, claiming attacks toward Congressional plans on that day while concurrently alleging that the rioting was aimed at black voters. It was certainly not both, and arguably neither. 

Tyler (No)

Trump's involvement in instigating the attack on the Capitol certainly makes him liable under the KKK Act of 1871. It is no coincidence that the law established to combat the Ku Klux Klan, is now being used against Trump, as it is widely perceived the former president consistently promoted racism throughout his term.

The Ku Klux Klan act of 1871 was made to outlaw any intimidation tactics or violence used to influence or react to a congressional outcome. Trump's actions in encouraging his supporters certainly meet these criteria. The former president got the wheels turning on this massive outburst when he told hate groups to 'stand back and stand by' during a rally in September. This behavior occurred up until hours before the terror occurred when he tweeted that the country would never be taken back with weakness. 

The lawsuit lists the Proud Boys, which has been a recognizable face of hate from the right-wing. This group has been encouraged by Trump and was spotted causing destruction amidst the Capitol riots. Their intent to disrupt a peaceful transfer of power is similar to when the Ku Klux Klan would scare Black citizens from participating in any political activity.

Republicans that chose to acquit Trump in his historic impeachment trials hinted that they only did so because the situation was a better fit to be handled in the courts. However, they certainly acknowledged his involvement in inciting the violence. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that Trump's supporters inflicted the violence on the Capitol because of his remarks at his rallies and due to his attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence.

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