Ashanti Smith, the 28-year-old Black female security guard, says she lost her job and faces criminal charges because of the incident that was captured on the now-viral video and shared on social media.
The rioter, identified as Therese Duke by her 18-year-old daughter Helena, was publicly shamed by her daughter for attending the riot. Duke’s daughter claims her mom wouldn’t let her attend the Black Lives Matter protests last summer because of the potential violence, a salient point her teen highlighted in her public calling out.
Smith launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for legal fees. She’s already surpassed her goal of $85,000, reaching more than $240,000 already. She detailed the incident from her perspective in the fundraiser’s page:
“Greetings, My name is Ashanti Smith; I am a 28-year-old African American woman who lives in the Washington DC metropolitan area. I recently was assaulted, attacked and harassed by a group of Trump supporters on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC on January 5th, 2021.
"A video has surfaced where I was surrounded by a group of Trump extremists, and I honestly feared for my life. The video makes me look like I am the aggressor, but it does not show what happened prior to my defending myself. People shoved me, tried to take my phone and keys, yelled racial epithets at me, and tried to remove my mask. I asked them to social distance and stay out of my personal space due to COVID 19. They refused, and I was afraid of being hurt and harmed. After being assaulted, I defended myself.”
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