In an ironic twist of historical proportions, former President Donald Trump faces charges under a law originally passed to quell the violence and terror of the Ku Klux Klan. The latest indictment in Trump’s ongoing saga to overturn the 2020 election results includes one count under this civil rights law, otherwise known as the KKK Act of 1871.
Special counsel Jack Smith didn’t hold back on Tuesday, laying down four felony counts against Trump. Aside from charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of vote certification proceedings, there’s a fourth charge – one of conspiracy to violate civil rights – that’s grabbed the headlines.
This charge has been placed under the KKK Act, a statute from the era of widespread racial violence against Black communities by white supremacists. The Act was instrumental in protecting constitutional rights during a dark time in America’s history.
And it’s not every day you see a former U.S. President in the company of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and voter suppression activists. These are the same people who’ve sought to dismantle civil rights and perpetuate white supremacy in the U.S. – not quite the crowd a former head of state wants to be associated with.
Over the years, the interpretation of the KKK Act has been expanded by the Supreme Court to cover election fraud conspiracies, especially those attempting to prevent Black individuals and other marginalized groups from voting.
This brings us to Trump’s controversial campaign during the 2020 elections, where he tirelessly attempted to overturn the votes in states that favored President Joe Biden. Majority-Black neighborhoods, with notably higher Biden support, were the primary targets of these efforts, painting a starkly discriminatory picture.
Remember the time when KKK members would drop cards from airplanes in Black neighborhoods or show up at polling stations to intimidate voters? Well, Trump’s 2020 campaign eerily mirrors these tactics, reminding us of the unyielding face of systemic racism.
These charges against Trump, according to experts, are a clear condemnation of his efforts to dismantle democratic processes. The indictment details how Trump and his cohorts targeted the “bedrock function of the United States Federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.”
Evidence gathered from former Vice President Mike Pence’s notes revealed the lengths Trump and his co-conspirators were willing to go to, recruiting fake electors and weaponizing the Insurrection Act against those who dared to protest his authoritarian ambitions.
In summary, the latest charges against Trump paint a picture of a desperate struggle for power, echoing the dark times of racial violence and voter suppression. But it also serves as a reminder that the battle for civil rights is far from over, and every attempt to undermine it, no matter how grand or subtle, will be met with the full force of the law.