Email Ken Stallings   The Crispus Attucks of Our Time

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On March 5, 1770, a seminal event in American history took place on the streets of Boston, Massachusetts.  A crowd assembled outside the Customs House, which at the time was guarded by soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot, and started a protest that led to violence.  A boy had observed that a member of this British unit had received a hair cut and then refused to pay his fee to the barber.  The boy then chastised the solider for his greed and dishonesty.  Word of this otherwise innocent moment spread in a city of inflamed sentiment, and quickly crowds gathered to attack these British troops.

Later, another group of citizens arrived and threw pieces of wood and other debris at the soldiers, who by this time had assembled outside the Customs House in defensive posture.  What happened next is the shot that deeply divided the Americans from their British leadership.  That shot killed Crispus Attucks, a stevedore, who was also of African and Native American heritage.  He is widely considered the first casualty of the American Revolution.

Initially, even most colonists spoke ill of Attucks, including John Adams, who was the legal counsel of the soldiers on trial for murder and manslaughter.  Adams said this of the crowd, "a motley rabble of saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish teagues, and outlandish Jack Tarrs."  Of Attucks, he said that he had "undertaken to be the hero of the night with his mad behavior."

Adams obtained acquittals of all the murder charges, and of all but a few of the manslaughter charges, lodged against the soldiers.  Two were convicted of manslaughter, and they avoided possible death sentences by accepting what at the time was a common penalty of being branded on the thumbs. 

Aside from the comments of John Adams, other Bostonians took a far more positive view of Attucks, with John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere calling him a martyr and hero.  Today, there are many high schools named in honor of Attucks, Boston has a monument erected to his honor, and to this day in Boston, there is a holiday celebrated in his honor.

Consider all that when looking at what happened in Washington DC on 6 January 2021.  About 150,000 people came to DC to protest against what they considered to be a terribly fraudulent general election in November.  They came to be heard.  Unfortunately, about 30 protesters shoved their way past barricades and illegally entered the Capitol Building.  One of those people was a 14-year Air Force veteran named Ashli Babbitt.  She was being hoisted on the shoulders of other protesters so that she could enter the Capitol through a window.  Before she got in, a Capitol Hill police lieutenant shot Babbitt in the neck, severing an artery and quickly causing her death. 

A day later, it seems clear that this was the only shot fired during the illegal storming of the Capitol, and it seems that none of the protesters were armed.  We know for a fact that Babbitt was not armed, did not physically attack anyone, did not threaten to use force against anyone, and from all witnesses of the event, including one journalist, it would appear that the use of police lethal force was unwarranted.

Nevertheless, today there are no cities on fire, there is no looting, and there are not thousands of protesters yelling to defund police.  Perhaps that is because Babbitt was a white female.  Despite clearly breaking the law, and rightfully being subject to arrest and prosecution for illegal trespass onto government property, Babbitt did not deserve to be shot to death.  She violated 18 US Code 1752, which is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison, plus a punitive fine.  Since she's dead, it doesn't matter any longer for her.

There are certain government installations and buildings that clearly placard warnings that unauthorized intruders may be shot upon sight.  The US Capitol Building is not one of those buildings.  Such installations are nuclear bunkers, and other such buildings, and are barbed wire topped fenced sites that require such unusual protections.  Moreover, how many Antifa radicals were shot by police for looting, arson, and unprovoked physical beatings of innocent and defenseless people?  The answer is that police have shot three such rioters, all of whom overtly threatened police with deadly force.  Babbitt threatened no one with any arms, of any type.

Back in 1770, Crispus Attucks did throw objects at the British soldiers, according to most witnesses of the event named the Boston Massacre.  In that respect, since the British soldiers were being physically attacked, their use of force was far more justifiable than was the deadly force used against Ashli Babbitt.

The American left, including their allies in the media, can hurl all the rancid attacks they care to.  But, this truth remains unchallenged.  The Capitol Hill police shot dead an unarmed women who was not using physical force against anyone, and who according to many witnesses did nothing other than illegally attempt to enter the Capitol Building through a window.  She should have got 10 years in prison, not death.

It took four years after the Boston Massacre for Boston the city to seethe with rage to the point where the Boston Tea Party led to the Intolerable Acts, which led to the American Revolution.   While initially most colonists believed Boston was a city of rabble rousers, it took only a year later for the Battle of Lexington and Concord to galvanize American opinion to author the Declaration of Independence and formally cede all ties to Great Britain.  In September 1783, over seven years of armed revolution ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, where Great Britain formally agreed to abandon all claims to the United States of America.

Those events started on a cold late afternoon in Boston in March 1770, and ended in September 1783.  It took thirteen years approximately from initial armed rebellion with blocks of wood and stones, to winning independence from a government considered by most to be an intolerable force of tyranny.  For all their bravado and vitriol it would be helpful for today's Democrats, and the entirety of the American left, to consider history.  In 1770, most people considered those at the Boston Massacre to be rabble rousers.  By 1783 they were unanimously considered heroes of the American Revolution, and ultimately have monuments and schools named after them.

History can be that way.  Often those with the power and bully pulpit initially, end up finding themselves on the wrong side of justice and history.  Sadly, emboldened already with their renewed level of power, the left appears eager to use it in a manner guaranteed to make it a short lived possession.

-- Ken Stallings

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