Upset by Fellow Veterans in Mob, Volunteers Battle Hate

Teams go through Capitol area and DC streets, removing signs of hate
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2021 7:25 PM CST
Upset by Fellow Veterans in Mob, Volunteers Battle Hate
Demonstrators left a pile of broken equipment outside the the US Capitol on Jan. 6.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – Just last year, after the death of George Floyd in police custody, a group of veterans called Continue to Serve was formed. David Smith had seen the unrest near the White House and wanted veterans to work for equality and justice. "When I saw Lafayette Square get cleared, I broke into tears," he said. "I couldn't believe this was happening in America, and that [law enforcement] would attack peaceful protesters." And last week, he was at the US Capitol when a mob attacked it. His reaction was similar. The fact that fellow veterans were involved hit him hard, the Washington Post reports. "That was a dagger to the heart,” he said. "Just because you served in the military doesn't give you impunity to storm the Capitol building." When the riot was over, there were stickers and signs with racist and fascist messages "all over the place," Smith said. So he organized a sweep.

Veterans and other volunteers walked through the area around the Capitol and downtown Washington streets on Sunday, removing signs of hate. They took down "Stop the Steal" signs, as well as neo-Nazi and alt-right messages. "There was so much good energy, especially in the fallout of something so negative," said Smith, who served as a combat medic in Afghanistan. "It almost brings you to tears" to see pro-Trump rioters identify themselves as veterans, he said, per WUSA. He wanted to show that the veterans in the mob don't represent all veterans. "To support and defend the Constitution," Smith said. "That's what we’re supposed to do, not a man, not a president, but the Constitution." Nearly 200 people took part in the cleanup. (The crowd included a retired Air Force officer.)

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