Twitter users are arguing that the #SayHerName hashtag should not be used in reference to the Donald Trump supporter who was killed during the invasion of the Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
After some users began to use the hashtag to refer to Ashli Babbitt, a white, pro-Trump rioter who was fatally shot during the assault on the Capitol, others expressed disapproval of the use of the rallying cry, arguing it’s intended to be used to refer to Black women like Breonna Taylor who have died unjustly at the hands of police.
The phrase “Say Her Name” was originally used in reference to the death of Sandra Bland, who died in the custody of Texas jail authorities after her arrest following a pretextual traffic stop in 2015. Since then it has been used to raise awareness about other Black women who have died through injustice or police brutality, like Korryn Gaines, Atatiana Jefferson, and many other women.
On Twitter user said, “we will not say her name” in response to the push to connect Babbitt with the hashtag, “You see how our movement is mocked and hijacked by the very system that is the cause for its creation. This woman is/was a TERRORIST. We will not say her name.”
Babbitt was struck by police gunfire on Wednesday as she and other members of a pro-Trump mob infiltrated the Capitol building. The 35-year-old was a 14-year Air Force veteran. After the shooting she was transferred to a hospital, where she died.
The San Diego resident and outspoken Trump supporter tweeted Tuesday, the day before the attack on the Capitol, writing, “Nothing will stop us…. they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light.”
On social media, Babbitt criticized Democratic supporters and promoted QAnon, a shadowy online far-right movement known for spreading extreme conspiracy theories. She also supported the “stop the steal message” promoted by Trump as he perpetuated the idea of widespread fraud in the election while he refused to accept the outcome of the race.
Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, confirmed to KUSI News that she had died from her injuries. He said she was a strong supporter of Trump and a true patriot.
Following news of her death, some Twitter users also characterized Babbitt as a hero and a patriot and tagged tweets about her with #SayHerName.
However, others users quickly pointed out the differences between Babbitt’s death — where the woman was fatally wounded by a Capitol policeman as she was at the front of a throng attempting to breach a door behind which members of Congress were sheltering in place — and the death of 25-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own apartment as Louisville police executed a no-knock warrant on her residence.
One user tweeted, “I don’t know who needs this clarification, but here you go: Breonna Taylor was laying in her own bed when the cops came into her home and shot her. She wasn’t trying to break into the offices of the Speaker of the House with an angry mob. So THAT’S why we say her name.”
During a segment on CNN, Don Lemon also clashed with Chris Cuomo on Wednesday evening when the network decided against airing the clip of Babbitt being shot. Lemon argued that videos of the deaths of Black people have been played in a loop on the network and they died for much less.
The insurrection took place as members of Congress were in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Lawmakers were escorted to safety by staff and police as the process was interrupted by rioters who entered the Capitol building. Congress certified the election results more than 12 hours later, with Vice President Mike Pence declaring Biden the winner.
A statement from Trump that followed the certification promised a “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”